Sunday, July 19, 2009

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

I normally don't bake with strawberries since they produce so much (natural) juice, so when this recipe called to dehydrate the berries, it peaked my interest. According to the original recipe, dehydrating berries concentrates its sweetness and allows them to hold their shape in these baked goods. They also point out that with any quick bread recipe, it is imperative to avoid overmixing the batter to result in fluffy muffins. The dough will initially be very stiff, but the dough loosens when you add the ricotta mixture and strawberries.



These muffins were warm, soft, moist, fluffy, and tasty- what more could you ask for in a muffin? You can taste a hint of lime in it as well. The sanding sugar is a coarse sugar used as an edible decoration that won't dissolve when subjected to heat. This can be purchased at any cake supply or craft store (I found this at Michael's for $3.99). I loved this touch, and it made the topping wonderful!



Ingredients:
2 cups medium strawberries (I used a 1-lb package)
3/4 cup ricotta
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
10 Tbsp butter melted and cooled, divided (I coated my muffin tin with butter-flavored cooking spray and thus used 8 Tbsp melted for the batter)
Butter-flavored cooking spray
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon or lime zest (I used lime zest, and would use 2 tsp next time)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
Sanding sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Gently wash, hull, and cut strawberries into quarters (if the berries are large, cut so all chopped berries are uniform in size).

3. Bake until strawberries are partially dried, about 45 minutes. (I baked mine for 35 minutes on a toaster oven rack.) Let cool.

4. Increase oven to 400 degrees.
5. Brush a 12-mold muffin tin with 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Set aside. (I used butter-flavored cooking spray.)
6. In a bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, and vanilla.
7. Stir in the remaining 8 Tbsp of melted butter.

8. In a large bowl, use your fingertips to rub together sugar and lime (or lemon zest) until incorporated.
9. Mix in flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
10. Use a spatula to gently, but quickly, fold ricotta mixture and strawberries into dry ingredients. Don’t overwork it. The batter will be initially thick, heavy, and stiff.

11. Spoon batter evenly into muffin tins.
12. Top with sanding sugar if desired.

13. Bake until tops of muffins are golden and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes. (I baked them for 19 minutes.)


Yield: 12 muffins

Source: As found on Sarah's Test Kitchen, originally from About.com

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