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Results are in for the Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Consumer Recipe Contest, just in time to inspire you for National Dairy Month in June. Cheese-loving consumers submitted their favorite original recipes—side dishes, entrées or desserts—featuring Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella or Crave Brothers Mascarpone. Winning recipes were selected for their innovation, creativity and flavor.

Crystal Schlueter of Babbitt, MN was awarded the $1,000 First Prize for her Strawberry Mascarpone Hand Tarts with Lemony Thyme & Pink Peppercorn Sprinkles. This eye-catching and palate-pleasing recipe taps into tradition as well as trends. Crystal Schlueter’s recipe was inspired by a combination of her love of baking and her love of mascarpone, which she uses all the time. She calls herself a whimsical cook, and enjoys creating adult renditions of her favorite childhood recipes. The confetti-like sprinkling of crushed freeze-dried strawberries, grated lemon zest, chopped fresh thyme and freshly ground pink peppercorns gives her winning creation a celebratory look, but the hand tart itself is a flavor-driven dessert. Puff pastry is filled with just enough Crave Brothers Mascarpone cheese to add richness and bring out the clean flavors of strawberry jam made with fresh berries, Meyer lemon zest and juice, balsamic glaze, roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves and coarsely ground pink peppercorns. After the tarts are baked and cooled, they’re glazed with a combination of Crave Brothers Mascarpone Cheese, powdered sugar, Meyer lemon juice, vanilla extract and a bit of heavy cream, and sprinkled with the flavorful confetti.

Crave Brothers Mascarpone is made from fresh sweet cream and adds a velvety texture and rich flavor to recipes. The cheese has won more than 27 prestigious awards since its introduction. Like other Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheeses, it is made with milk from the Crave family’s own dairy herd. Crave Brothers Cheese is sustainably produced in a farmstead cheese-making facility that uses 100 percent green power, and practices water conservation and recycling.

Courtney Smith of Sun Prairie, WI, earned the Second Place Prize of $500 for Reuben Stuffed Shells with Mascarpone Cream Sauce. Her casual comfort food creation has all the makings of a classic. Inspiration struck Courtney Smith when she enjoyed corned beef and cabbage at her grandparents’ house on St. Patrick’s Day. Corned beef also stars in Reuben sandwiches, and she took those flavors and ingredients to the next level by incorporating them into a satisfying dish of stuffed jumbo pasta shells luxuriating in Mascarpone Cream Sauce. The sauce is made with 8 ounces each of Crave Brothers Mascarpone Cheese and Thousand Island dressing, plus a dollop of melted butter. As the recipe name implies, Reuben Stuffed Shells are filled with corned beef, sauerkraut, shredded Swiss cheese, flavored with the Mascarpone Creamy Sauce that coats the bottom of the baking pan, and is also poured over the stuffed shells before baking. Just before serving, rye bread croutons are sprinkled on top of the shells.

Donna-Marie Ryan of Topsfield, MA, received the Third Place Prize for her creative Scrumptious Summer Blueberry Mozzarella Wild Rice Salad, served with blueberry vinaigrette. Ryan won a Crave Brothers cooler tote filled with a selection of award-winning Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheeses and a cutting board. The salad recipe arose out of her own philosophy: When her daughter was growing up, Donna-Marie Ryan encouraged healthy eating and promoted new foods. This salad meets those requirements by combining three of her favorites: regionally grown blueberries, wild rice and Crave Brothers Fresh Mozzarella. To make it, mixed salad greens and cold wild rice are topped with cubed or perline (pearl size) Fresh Mozzarella and fresh blueberries. The salad is pulled together by the summery flavor Blueberry Vinaigrette, made with fresh blueberries, white vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil.

Crave Brothers award-winning Fresh Mozzarella is an ideal ingredient for creative cooking because it’s available in a variety of forms, including one-pound balls and logs, 8-ounce balls, and containers of perline (pearl size), ciliegene (cherry size), bocconcini (ball size), ovoline (egg size), and ciliegene marinated in an olive oil/canola oil blend with herbs and spices. In 2017, Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics swept the Fresh Mozzarella category at the U.S. Cheese Championships, placing First, Second and Third. Other recent Fresh Mozzarella awards include First and Second Place Awards at the 2017 World Dairy Product Awards, First and Second Place Awards at the 2017 American Cheese Society Competition, and First Place for Marinated at the 2018 World Cheese Awards.

Visit the website at to see the complete winning recipes, and for product information about Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese varieties.

The Crave family farms 2,500 acres of productive land in south-central Wisconsin, growing soybeans, corn and alfalfa to use as nutritious feed for their Holstein cows. From the biodigester to water recovery and recycling, sustainability is top-of-mind on the farm. The Crave Brothers Farm LLC and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC use 100% green power and are carbon-negative businesses. Their anaerobic biodigester produces more electricity than they need, enough to power the dairy farm, the farmstead cheese-making plant, and over 300 homes in their community.

Every pound of cheese made by George Crave, a licensed cheese maker, is made with milk from the family’s herd. Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese produces Fresh Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Part-skim Mozzarella, Oaxaca, Farmer’s Rope String Cheese, and Fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds in white, yellow and jalapeño varieties.

Strawberry Mascarpone Hand Tarts with Lemony Thyme & Pink Peppercorn Sprinkles


  • 2 cups diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon grated meyer lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze
  • 1/2 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pink peppercorns
For Assembling:
  • 2 sheets frozen puffed pastry, thawed
  • 3 ounces Crave Brothers Mascarpone Cheese
  • 2 ounces Crave Brothers Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Several pinches each of crushed freeze dried strawberries, grated meyer lemon zest, chopped fresh thyme leaves, & coarsely ground pink peppercorns


In a medium saucepan over medium heat whisk together all jam ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to a maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 35-45 minutes or until a thin jam-like consistency is reached. Jam will thicken further upon cooling. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll 1 sheet of puff pastry & cut along the lines to make 3 sections. Cut each section in half to form 6 rectangles. Spread cooled jam over each rectangle to about 1/2 inch from the edges. Using 3 ounces mascarpone, drop by small spoonfuls over filling. Brush edges lightly with water.

Cut remaining sheet of puff pastry in the same manner & place one over each filled rectangle. Gently press edges down with the side of a fork, then use the tines to crimp edges. Its okay if a bit of jam seeps out, but its best to avoid it if possible. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown & bottoms are no longer doughy. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Whisk together all glaze ingredients. Spread a thin layer over each pastry. Top pastries with a couple pinches each of freeze dried strawberries, zest, thyme, & peppercorns.

Yield: 6 Servings