Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What's the Difference? {Cream Cheese, Mascarpone, and Neufchatel}

Hi, everyone! It's really nice to be back. I was quite busy with school, but I'm happy to say that I have graduated from college! I tackled countless papers, projects, homework, and studying for my exams (made possible through perseverance and an obscene amount of Red Bull). What's next for me, you might ask? I'm in a weird stage in my life where I'm figuring that out. But, with out a doubt, I see myself with cheese.
Today's post is inspired by my experience as a cheese specialist and the common questions brought up by my customers. What's the big difference between Cream Cheese, Mascarpone, and Neufchatel? They're all creamy and spreadable but have slight differences in fat content, and flavor.
Philadelphia cream cheese has a light tang, and is made from pasteurized whole cow's milk with extra cream added to it. It's a bagel's best friend and a major component to cheesecake. I seriously love cream cheese. Mix in some pesto and you have yourself an addicting spread on crackers and toast.  
By law, cream cheese must contain at least 33 percent milk fat and not more than 55 percent moisture. Ain't that interesting?

Mascarpone (ma-skar-po-nay) is often categorized as cheese and found in the cheese department of your grocery store. However, it's technically not a cheese.  Rather, it's a form of cream thickened with acid. It's lightly sweet, soft, creamy, and way lower in sodium than cream cheese. It has a real fresh flavor and satiny texture that doesn't weigh you down. Great in desserts. Hello, Tiramisu. 

Neufchatel is lower in calories due to its lower milk fat content. It's higher in moisture and has a light tang, almost resembling cream cheese. Although, I find cream cheese much more flavorful. (Do not confuse American Neufchatel with French Neufchâtel)!

photography credit: philadephia cream cheese via , vermont butter and cheese mascarpone via , clover stornetta neufchatel via 


  1. What's the difference between the American and French Neufchatel?

    1. Hi there!

      American Neufchatel is a pasteurized and processed cheese that is rich and smooth in texture. It’s nearly identical in flavor and appearance to cream cheese.
      And French Neufchatel is an unpasteurized, soft and slightly crumbly mold-ripened cheese. It has an earthy aroma and a flavor similar to Camembert, but with a salty tang. French Neufchatel is also labeled as an AOC cheese, which means that it’s legally protected and has very specific production procedures! :)

  2. Can you substitute mascarpone cheese for cream cheese in recipes such as cheesecake? Or dip recipes?

    1. Hi American Nanny,

      Thank you for your question! It is not recommended to fully substitute mascarpone for cream cheese when making cheesecake. I suggest using a small amount of mascarpone: 25% mascarpone with 75% cream cheese.
      Using 100% mascarpone does not allow the cheesecake to set. Also, be aware of the amount of mascarpone being used as it is already naturally sweet. You don't want a cheesecake that is overly sweet!

      You can use mascarpone in baked dips but it might be a little loose. Adding a bit of cream cheese will help thicken your mixture. If you're doing a cold, dessert dip to serve with strawberries, using full mascarpone is fine.

      Have a great day!

  3. Can mascarpone be used instead of cream cheese in a lobster Rangoon appetizer?

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  5. hi ! can i substitute cream cheese instead of mascarpone cheese in preparing tiramisu?

    1. Hello!
      Thanks for your question!
      I would not recommend substituting cream cheese instead of Mascarpone for tiramisu. Cream cheese has a much denser texture and more salt in comparison to Mascarpone. Mascarpone's light, velvety texture is ideal for layering in tiramisu. :)