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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, February 24, 2006

The best muffins you'll ever have (ie lemon ricotta ones)

Ok, I admit I totally stole that heading from the blog where I found this recipe. With a title like that, you'd be interested too? I can't remember how I found it, but I think I was looking for ways to use up some fresh ricotta in the fridge and I found this recipe for lemon & ricotta muffins, that would be apparently the best things I'll ever have.
The recipe comes from the Italian-American TV chef, Giada de Laurentiis, who looks totally like a catwalk model. I was pretty dubious of her when I first caught her show, "Everyday Italian". How could somebody who looked like a stick figure fashion plate know anything about good food? My Italo-American tv chef tastes run more toward the grandmotherly Lidia Bastianich. However, after just one episode of Giada's show I had to eat my words. This girl knows what she's doing, and I picked up a swag of tips and new info in a single episode. So, when I saw this recipe was from one of her shows, I knew it'd be a good one.

The combination of ricotta and lemon juice & zest makes these muffins really light. I substitued 1/2 cup of the flour for ground almonds, because I had them, and I thought they'd make them even more light and moist. That worked really well, but I don't think it's essential. The almond essence gives it that aromatic whiff of something very European. Kind of like the smell you get when you walk past a Continental cakeshop. I reckon these would be the perfect thing to take to a women's-only morning tea or brunch. We all know that women want something sweet, but don't want to be seen tucking into something over the top (hmm, at least that's what I've noticed). Well, these look and taste really light and healthy, which I think would be a big attraction for the girls.
I made these to have on hand at breakfasts for my Danish visitors this week. I didn't have time in the days just before their arrival, so I whipped them up a week earlier and stuck them in the freezer. They freeze beautifully, so they're great for making in advance. The Danes enjoyed them very much. :-)
Read on for the recipe:

Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits (muffins)
from Giada de Laurentiis

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins

1.5 cups plain flour

1/2 cup ground almonds (or extra 1/2 cup flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar or more as needed for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds (optional)

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/ 175 degrees C.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  • These sound fantastic Niki - I had some lemon ricotta pancakes in a restaurant a while back and loved them, so I know I'll enjoy these!

    By Blogger Cathy, at 2/24/2006 02:51:00 pm  

  • I agree that these sound fab - I love the lemon-ricotta combo, too. I made a baked lemon & ricotta cheesecake last week, so I can almost taste your muffins:)

    By Blogger Pille, at 2/25/2006 03:30:00 am  

  • Oh my, those look magnificent! Mmm mmm ...

    By Blogger MM, at 2/25/2006 06:48:00 am  

  • I think I actually caught this episode. Yours look prettier, Niki.

    By Blogger Nic, at 2/25/2006 07:30:00 am  

  • Those look like heaven.

    By Blogger Sylvie, at 2/25/2006 11:43:00 am  

  • Your right - they are really really good. I made them on Sunday as mini-muffins and even without egg and almond in them they were gorgeous. There were disputes today between me and my two and a half year old over how many were a reasonable number to eat for over mid-morning break. We stopped at three.

    Thanks for these really inspiring posts.

    By Anonymous din, at 2/27/2006 10:10:00 pm  

  • Cathy & Pille - I've never been attracted to the lemon & ricotta thing before, but I've really turned a corner now. Excellent combination!

    Mm - Yes, very mmmmm! :-)

    Nic - thank you for the compliment!

    Sylvie - thank you

    Din - I'm so pleased you made them, and to know that they will still work without eggs is the type of useful information its good to have. I can certainly understand how it would be difficult to stop eating these!

    By Blogger Niki, at 3/01/2006 12:06:00 am  

  • I made these last night, and they are delish! Since we're about to move house, my pantry stock is running a little low, so I substituted self-raising flour for the plain + bicarb/baking soda, and left them for 12-13 min for the mini muffin/cupcake tin size (think ... golfball?), they're currently competing (and winning) against our monthly birthday cake day at the rate of disappearance.

    By Anonymous droidy, at 3/01/2006 10:38:00 am  

  • Droidy - How cool! Actually I had wondered whether I could use self-raising in these, so thanks for letting me know. I think self-raising flour is pretty uncommon in the US, so they do the plain & baking powder/bicarb thing a lot. They're are really tasty, aren't they? Plus they stay moist. I like the idea of mini (golfball!) muffins. They'd be good for finger food at a cocktail party or afternoon tea. Thanks for the idea!

    By Blogger Niki, at 3/01/2006 11:38:00 am  

  • From what I've worked out (Stephanie Alexander's "The Cook's Companion", random googling), the conversion of plain flour to self-raising is 1 cup flour (where this 1 cup could be anything from 130-150g), to 1/2 tsp baking powder. I figured if I was using 135g as my cup, and I would've added 1/2 tsp baking powder to it, that worked out for the 1.5 cups it was asking for (: Ahh well, the recipe's actually pretty forgiving all things considered!

    By Anonymous droidy, at 3/02/2006 01:29:00 pm  

  • These muffins look so delicious, I think these have a similar taste the lemon pies.

    By Anonymous Generic Viagra, at 8/05/2010 02:58:00 am  

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