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Mascarpone is milky-white in color and is easily spread. It is used in various dishes of the Lombardy region of Italy, where it is a speciality. It is a main ingredient of modern Tiramisù. It is sometimes used instead of butter or Parmesan cheese to thicken and enrich risotto.
Mascarpone originated in the area between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, Italy, southwest of Milan, probably in the late 16th or early 17th century. The name is said to come from mascarpa, a milk product made from the whey of stracchino (shortly-aged cheese), or from mascarpia, the word in the local dialect for ricotta (although mascarpone is not made from whey, as ricotta is).