Blood Orange Ricotta Cheese Muffins

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I did quite a bit of baking the past few weeks feeding my family who were visiting us here in Umbria for their yearly vacation. Although we reserve our guesthouse for them during their stay so they (and we) have enough room to be comfortable, my three grandkids head over to our house bright and early every morning for breakfast. This usually entails scrambled eggs and toast to start made by their Nonno before the kids start looking around the kitchen for something sweet to finish off their first meal of the day. I was lucky enough to have a number of quick breads in my freezer that they gobbled up very quickly, but by the second week of their stay I had to get busy baking. My daughter and I made Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Lemon Poppyseed Loaf, and these tasty Blood Orange Ricotta Cheese Muffins. These muffins were really moist, lightly flavored with blood oranges, had a delicate crumb, and a crisp topping of orange sugar for texture.

I used white faro flour in these muffins to add some nutritional value, but if you cannot find it you can use all-purpose flour instead. Also helping to make these muffins healthier than most is the inclusion of ricotta cheese, minimal amount of sugar, and the only fat used (apart from the ricotta cheese) was a small amount of olive oil. I used a simple orange zest and sugar combo to top these muffins, but if you prefer you could certainly make a light glaze using powdered sugar and orange juice instead. Although we all loved the flavor of blood oranges in these muffins, if they are not in season where you live, regular oranges will work out just fine. I am lucky enough to have sheep’s milk ricotta available to me which I prefer in my recipes, but any good quality full fat ricotta cheese will do. I am sure these muffins will stay moist and delicious for 3 to 4 days, but the ones I made were gone in less than 24 hours and were thoroughly enjoyed!

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Blood Orange Ricotta Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 Cup White Farro Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Teaspoons Orange Zest
  • 1/2 Cup Freshly Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Egg

Orange Sugar Topping:

  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and line a 12 cup muffin tin with 10 muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil and the egg until blended.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir with a large spoon just until mixed. (Batter is quite thick)
  5. In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and orange zest for the topping, then sprinkle it over the tops of each of the muffins
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, then bake for about 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.