As they say, spring has sprung! Kind of. Yesterday, the first official day of spring, I woke up to sheets of rain pelting against my window, 32 mph gusts of wind, and a thin layer of ice on my windshield. Not to mention the fact that with daylight savings time in full effect, the sky was still dark gray. It was lovely.
Instead of moping around resenting the weather’s apparent ignorance that every day should now be sunny, clear, and warm, I decided to bake something that would usher in a little bit of spring vibe…which to me, always means one thing: lemon. A quick peek in my baking cupboard led me to find an unopened package of the cutest purple polka-dot muffin liners, which I just had to use. The combination of lemon-yellow, purple muffin liners, and polka dots was far too springish (no, spellcheck, that is indeed a word) to pass up….I mean, really.
Not only were these muffins beautiful with their sunshiny yellow color, sparkly sugar tops, and pretty purple muffin liners, they tasted fabulous! The zesty lemon flavor was pronounced but not overpowering, the tops had a little crunch from a sprinkle of sugar, and the insides were tender and sweet. The ricotta cheese gave the muffins a hint of cream cheese-like flavor and helped keep the muffins nice and soft. Using ricotta makes the batter very thick, almost like a dough, but fear not…the muffins bake up perfectly light and delicious.
Until the weather around here shapes up, I guess I’ll just keep eating Lemon Ricotta Muffins and pretending that it’s spring. With a 30% chance of snow showers tomorrow night, that may be hard to do…wish me luck!
Lemon Ricotta Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs lemon zest (from about 2 large lemons)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Add the softened butter to the bowl and mix with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the ricotta cheese and beat until well-combined. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Using a rubber spatula, stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined. The batter will be very thick. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins, then sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until muffin tops are slightly golden and bounce back when lightly touched. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin tins. Serve warm or store in an airtight container at room temperature.
(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)