Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese coagulated by the addition of certain acidic substances such as lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid. It is recognized as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (PAT) ("traditional regional food product").
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 popularly held to derive from mascarpa, an unrelated milk product made from the whey of stracchino (a young, barely aged cheese), or from mascarpia, a word in the local dialect for ricotta.
Mascarpone is milky-white in color and is easy to spread. It is used in various Lombardy dishes, and is considered a specialty in the region. It is one of the main ingredients in the modern Italian dessert known as tiramisu, and is sometimes used instead of, or along with, butter or Parmesan cheese to thicken and enrich risotto. Mascarpone is also used in cheesecake recipes.