Makes 1 pound

I like to use a double boiler to bring the cream up to temperature, to avoid scorching the cream. It takes longer than placing the cream directly over the heat, but it saves a lot of stirring and worry. If the top of your double boiler isn’t large enough, nestle a medium saucepan into a larger saucepan, being careful that the top saucepan doesn’t touch the water below. Unlike other soft cheeses you can easily make at home, this leaves almost no whey after straining. You will drain it in a strainer, but you should have very little liquid in the bowl underneath. This recipe uses vinegar, following the ingredients in the book The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley; you could use 1 tablespoon lemon juice instead (or tartaric acid, which I have not tried).

4 cups heavy cream, pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized, very fresh, preferably from a local dairy

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Pour the cream into the top of a double boiler. Put a few inches of water into the base of the boiler; it should not touch the bottom of the upper pan. Bring the water to a boil, and periodically stir the cream with a heat-safe spatula or wooden spoon, until the cream reaches 190 degrees. Pour in the vinegar and stir until the cream seems slightly thicker and custard-like; curds will not form as in ricotta or other cheeses.

Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand 20 minutes. Meanwhile, set a strainer over a bowl and line it with several layers of moistened butter muslin (this is a cheesecloth with a very fine weave, unlike that you usually find in a grocery store — look for it in kitchenware stores or online).

Pour the thickened cream into the strainer and let stand until cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight to finish setting. This will keep several days in a covered container, but it is quite perishable.

Related recipe: Tiramisu Parfaits

Related column: Mama Mia Mascarpone!

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