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Being Frugal with Ricotta, Part 1

With our 401ks in a horrific nosedive, our stocks plummeting at a dizzying rate, and so many of us no longer bringing home the bacon with a steady paycheck (uh, yes, that includes yours truly), we simply can’t waste food these days.

So when I found myself with some extra ricotta recently, left over from making pizza, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to try new recipe or two. For me, that meant baked goods, of course.

I could have just eaten the luscious whole-milk ricotta mixed with a little honey and fresh fruit. But oh, where’s the challenge in that? I thought the leftover ricotta, with its moist, creamy texture and subtle sweet flavor, deserved more.

So on the Web, I found a recipe on Recipezaar.com that had never been reviewed yet. The Lemon Ricotta Muffins needed a little tinkering, as the oven temperature was in Celsius degrees, and the mixing instructions were a little off kilter.

But in the end, the result was a batter as thick as cookie dough that baked up to a tender, cake-like texture that melted in the mouth. The sliced almonds and sugar strewn on top of the muffins gilded the lily in the loveliest way. My hubby is already asking when I can make these again.

I think it was a fitting end to some of my leftover ricotta. Find out what other baked good was the recipient of the remainder of the ricotta in tomorrow’s post.

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

(makes 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon or so of granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer, combine 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in ricotta. Then beat in egg, lemon juice and almond extract. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined.

Divide batter into lined muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with slivered almonds and the extra granulated sugar.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden brown, and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool muffin pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and place on rack, allowing them to cool further.

Tomorrow: Being Frugal with Ricotta, Part 2