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I made a marscarpone mix for a Jamie Oliver cheesecake and it has curdled.

The ingredients I added to the mixture include:

  • full cream milk,
  • vanilla essence,
  • and icing sugar.

Why would this mixture curdle? There is no acid in any of the ingredients.

And what can I do to fix this curdled marscapone mixture?

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What happens when you whisk it real good? –  Wouter Jan 13 '12 at 13:38
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3 Answers

I am guessing there is alcohol that denaturated the milk in the vanilla essence.

If the proteins are indeed denaturated, there is not much you can do. Perhaps you can use it in some recipe that hides the weird texture.

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Mascarpone is very prone to curdling in mixtures like this if any of the ingredients are different temperatures. Generally, you whip the cheese to soften it and it warms up a bit in the process, then if the milk you added is colder than the cheese, the fats in the cheese will solidify again, causing it to appear curdled.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure everything is room temperature, and to add the liquids very slowly. To fix it once it has already curdled, generally you would gently heat it over a double boiler (or microwave it a few seconds at a time) while whipping it until you've whipped the lumps out. Once it's smooth, let it cool back to room temperature, stirring regularly, and rewhip it once it's cool.

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Butters and soft cheeses do not just curdle with the addition of an acid, when you add any liquid into a butter or soft cheese and if it is added to quickly (as you are essentially forming an emulsion of liquid and fat) it will split and curdle. This is why in creamed butter cakes you will often see the instruction to 'slowly add the beaten egg as not to curdle the butter' or something similar to that.

In a cake it won't make to much difference, it will just be a bit denser, but in something that's not cooked like a buttercream frosting it will leave an unpleasant, watery, almost gelatinous mouth feel and will separate out. You can salvage it by putting in the fridge (which solidifies the fat and pulls the mixture together), then add some more icing sugar (which absorbs the remaining liquid) and give it a good mix and it should come back together.

Hope this helps!

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