I have discovered something amazing.
Lemon Zested Sugar.
If y’all knew about this and didn’t share this with me… I think our relationship might be somewhat fractured :-).
When Tina announced that April’s Crazy Cooking Challenge was Blueberry Muffins, I knew that I wanted something different, something more, something tonguegasmic.
Maria is one of my favorite bloggers and I remembered bookmarking a muffin recipe of hers from last year, so I dove into my bookmarks (oh-dear-pinterest-I-am-so-grateful-for-you-now) and once I found it, I remembered why I had bookmarked it:
1) I’ve never used ricotta before
b) her photography is beyond amazing
c) Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins – need I say more?
The only difference was that I used blueberries instead of blackberries
Maria’s recipe needs no adaptation – it’s brilliant and perfect and wonderful as is.
I’ve never had blueberries and lemon together in a muffin before…
I can promise y’all right now. This combination will be happening again.
Oh yes. Yes, it will.
It’s from Maria that I learned about the Lemon Zest and Sugar trick – it’s honestly recipe-life changing – I’m going to re-make my Blackberry Lemon Coffee Cake using this trick – it subtly, but powerfully enhances the flavor of lemon in a brilliant way.
Okay — done raving about Maria (for now)
Back to the Crazy Cooking Challenge
- I whisked together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In another bowl: cream together, lemon sugar and butter.
- Add in ricotta cheese (hello baking first!) and beat until smooth
- Beat in egg, fresh squeezed lemon juice and vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract – it’s a 1:1)
Once the wet ingredients are combined and smooth, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
- Line muffin tins with paper liners or spray with baking spray
- Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to fill the muffin tins, press 3 to 5 blueberries (depending on size of the berries) into the batter and then swirl the batter with your finger (or a spoon, if you don’t like gettin’ your fingers dirty)
- Top with turbinado sugar. Maria suggests a sprinkle – I don’t think what I did qualifies as a sprinkle…
- 2 C all purpose flour, no need to sift
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 C white granulated sugar
- Zest from 2 lemons
- 1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 C ricotta cheese, I used low fat
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract, just throw out any imitation extract now, please
- 1 C ish fresh blackberries
- Turbinado Sugar - for topping
- Zest two lemons and then, using your fingers, combine the lemon zest with 1 C sugar - set aside
- Pre-heat oven to 350° F
- Spray 12 muffin cup tin with baking spray or line with paper liners
- In a medium bowl combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together, and set aside.
- Using a mixer - beat room temperature butter and lemon zest sugar together until light and fluffy - roughly 2 minutes.
- Add the ricotta cheese to the lemon-sugar/butter mixture and beat until smooth.
- Add in the egg, fresh squeezed lemon juice and vanilla bean paste and beat until fully incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, folding in with a wooden spoon and then beat until just blended and no loose dry mix is evident.
- Using an ice cream scooper or a large spoon, fill each muffin tin about 3/4 full.
- Press 3 to 5 blueberries into each cup and then swirl the batter (this is really thick, sticky batter) over the blueberries until they're immersed.
- Top with a generous sprinkle (tsp-ish-ish) of turbinado sugar (for that extra oomph)
- Bake about 18 minutes
- Remove from oven and cool about 5 minutes in the tins and for as long as you can stand it on wire racks.
These muffins are worth the extra effort - they are light, delicious, moist and seriously bursting with flavor. You'll never go back to traditional blueberry muffins.