When I made mushroom ravioli (recipe here), I bought 2 containers of ricotta cheese but only used one. Not wanting to use it for the standard pasta dish, I searched the internet for new ideas and found lemon ricotta muffins. I tried two very highly rated recipes, tweaked my favourite of the two and made lemon curd to go with it. These muffins are light, lemony, and soft with just a hint of sweetness. They’re perfect for a summer picnic, bbq, or shower.
Lemon Ricotta Muffins Recipe
makes 12 to 14; adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
Note: Adding milk to this recipe gives these muffins a very soft and cakey texture. If you prefer a sturdier, slightly denser muffin, omit the milk. I like both variations.
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated white sugar plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg, at room temperature
finely grated lemon zest from 4 large lemons (preferably organic to avoid pesticides)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup of milk (optional)
Optional: lemon curd (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Note that if you used milk, then you will need 13 or 14 muffin cups. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In your stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta until well combined. Then beat in the egg. Then mix in the milk (if using) and the lemon juice (it will look curdled). Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick). Using a cookie dough scoop (or two spoons), divide the batter and fill the muffin cups evenly. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake until the muffins become pale golden on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 16 to 18 minutes. Do not overcook the muffins. Remove from the muffin pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon curd if using.
Lemon Curd Recipe
adapted from Ina Garten; this recipe doubles well
1 1/2 large lemons (preferably Meyer lemons and preferably organic to avoid pesticides)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 large eggs, yolks only
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 to 2 large lemons)
small pinch of kosher salt
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 1 1/2 lemons (avoid the white parts of the rind). Put the zest and the sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until very finely minced and well combined. Cream the butter until light and fluffy and then mix in the sugar and zest mixture. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Then mix in the lemon juice and salt. The mixture will look curdled at this point but it will smooth out as you heat it. Pour the mixture into a sauce pot and heat until just below simmer point. Depending on your stove top, this could require anywhere between low and medium heat. Stir constantly and do not allow the mixture to boil. Cook until thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Optional: Push through a strainer into a heat proof bowl. Set a sheet of syran wrap directly on top of the lemon curd to prevent a film from forming. Then cool and refrigerate before serving. Note that lemon curd can be frozen.