I love a bagel with cream cheese for lunch. That’s not my crazy secret. My crazy secret is that sometimes I run out of cream cheese because I use it in everything — cheesecake, mashed potatoes, pimento cheese, risotto — and, desperate for a fix, discovered that mascarpone cheese makes as delectable a schmear as anything. Oh, I see those old Jewish folks with their pitchforks off in the distance. They don’t look happy.
Mascarpone cheese, an Italian soft, fresh cheese, is just like cream cheese, but with extra fat. Can you see why this was an instant hit on my bagel? Unlike cream cheese, which has much of its butterfat (ratio of fat to liquid) removed, mascarpone is a double to triple cream cheese. That means it’s between 50-75% pure, delectable fat. All due respect to cream cheese, 75% fat it is not. And these are big, plump, chewy New York bagels we’re talking about here. They deserve the crème de la triple crème.
I’m not making the switch permanent — cream cheese does have an edge in that it’s fluffy and tangy rather than dense, highly meltable and buttery. It might be that cream cheese is for weekdays and mascarpone (and working) is for the weekend. You may not have even lowered your pitchfork of indignation all the way, which I totally understand. I’ve just violated a sacred union. Personally, I think we should let the lox decide.
More on bagels at Food Republic: