Can you substitute mascarpone for ricotta cheese?
In a pinch, yes. They're both soft cheeses with a delicate flavour and an Italian name, but they have significant differences you should be aware of before attempting a substitution:
- Ricotta contains a lot more water than mascarpone (feels lighter)
- Mascarpone contains a lot more fat than ricotta (feels heavier, richer)
- Ricotta has more carbohydrates (feels sweeter)
- The composition of the protein and carbohydrate part is very different, though this will be less noticeable
I would be especially wary of this substitution where ricotta is presented "by itself" - in recipes such as cannoli, cassata, pastiera the substitution will not work well.