Sunday, February 7, 2010

Top of the Muffin To Ya

Call it the winter blues, perhaps, but the last few weeks I have been craving muffins. Not the Starbucks calorie laden versions (thank goodness) but the smell and taste of a home cooked treat. First, I made the apple sauce muffins from the Moosewood.The following week, I whipped up the batter for the apple spice cake recipe in the same cookbook (which only uses maple syrup for sweetener) and baked that in muffin tins. Similar to the apple sauce muffins but with instant oatmeal part of the list of ingredients, the end result was hearty and healthy.
Cross-section of the apple spice cake muffins with fresh cranberries

Then, with leftover ricotta in the fridge, I stumbled upon Giada De Laurentiis' Nonna's recipe for lemon ricotta muffins. It's stretching it a bit to call these babies "muffins." Chock full of moist goodness and super sweet, these were more like little cakes. Add some glaze or frosting and you're looking at a birthday party treat.

And then I ran the recipe through MasterCook. Clocking in at 274 calories and 13 grams of fat EACH, these were "special occasion" muffins and definitely not the winter workday morning everyday indulgence I was after.
So I went out on a limb and messed with the recipe. I know baking is a science, it's all about chemistry, yadda, yadda, but even scientists experiment. So I slashed the fat and added fiber. The end result? Down to 200 calories and 8 grams of fat per muffin. So not exactly made for an everyday breakfast, but good for a weekend indulgence. And, given the temptation of moist lemon cake and tart berries, good thing they freeze well. After all, no one wants to gnaw on a frozen muffin in February.
Lemon Ricotta Berry Muffins
Inspired by a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
Ingredients 1 Cup All-purpose flour
1 Cup Whole wheat flour 1/2 t. Baking powder 1/2 t. Baking soda 1/2 t. Salt 1/2 C. Sugar
5 T. Unsalted butter, softened 1 T. Lemon zest 1 C. Part-skim ricotta 1 Egg 1 T. Lemon juice 1/2 t. Almond extract 1/4 C. 1% Milk
1 1/2 C. Frozen blackberries, raspberries and/or blueberries
2 T. Sliced almonds
Method Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour through salt) in small bowl.
In a larger bowl, cream sugar, butter and zest with an electric mixer; add ricotta and beat until incorporated.
Add egg, lemon juice and almond extract to ricotta mixture and beat until well combined.
Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients by hand; adding up to 1/4 cup low fat milk if needed (batter should be stiff, but all dry ingredients should be well incorporated).
Fold in frozen berries by hand.
Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, scoop batter into a 12 cup muffin tin that has either been sprayed or prepped with paper liners.
Sprinkle a few sliced almonds on top of each muffin.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing from tin and cooling on baking rack.

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