I come to you, much like a suburban neighbor, with an offering. A basket of muffins (or a cyber-basket, really), handed sheepishly over the doorstep in the feeble hope that my neglect will go unnoticed in a rush of fluffy and crunchy textures and bright citrus and sweet almond flavors. Trust me, one bite of these muffins and you won't even remember that I haven't posted in over a week (there are plenty of excuses, but for now let's just focus on the muffins).
I threw these little babies together a couple of months ago, when I found myself with some leftover ricotta in the fridge (from my favorite lasagne recipe) and a craving for something lemony. I didn't have quite enough ricotta, so I filled in the rest with a mixture of cream cheese and lowfat milk, and I find lemon recipes are never quite lemony enough for me, so I added an extra lemon as well. I also rubbed the zest with the sugar before adding it, which brings out the flavor and makes my fingertips smell amazing.
Even with my random changes, these muffins turned out just as beautifully as the recipe reviews promised. Surprisingly, instead of weighing the muffins down the ricotta and cream cheese made them fluffy and light, and the citrus flavor balanced the sweetness from the almond extract just right. The end result was a big, soft, not-too-sweet muffin with crispy edges and a nice crunch from the chopped almonds on top (mine were extra crunchy because I was too lazy to sliver my almonds!).
Funnily enough (or more appropriately, to give you an idea of just how disorganized I am in terms of when I post recipes), these muffins were the inspiration behind my Meyer Lemon Bread. I'd made these just before going home for Easter, and they seemed like something my mom would love, so when she presented me with a huge, overflowing bag of lemons this was the first recipe I thought of. But then we didn't have any ricotta, and I thought the almond extract might be a bit sweet with the less-tart Meyers, so I tweaked quite a bit. But the end result was just as delicious!
Still, I wanted to share this recipe too, because while that bread rocked my world, these muffins were so good I ate three in rapid succession. And in my book, that's pretty much a five-star review!
Lemon Ricotta Muffins:
barely adapted from the Food Network
Preheat oven to 350F/175C and line or grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, preferably with an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy:
1 c sugar with the zest of 3 lemons rubbed in
1/2 c (113g) butter, room temp
1 c ricotta cheese (I had about 1/2 c, so I made up the difference with plain cream cheese and a little low fat milk)
Add, mixing well:
1 large egg
the juice of one of the zested lemons
1/2 tsp almond extract
In a separate bowl, whisk together:
2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt