Monday, February 26, 2007

Chocolate Ricotta muffins

This was our pre-Valentine's day indulgence. The muffins are supremely chocolatey due to the cup of chocolate chips folded in. If you cannot tolerate so much chocolate, you can leave them out for some ordinary and moist cocoa muffins.

The recipe comes from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe. Unlike many of the baked goods I make, I have made this recipe twice. It is a great use for some leftover ricotta cheese. It can be made with oil or melted butter, some soy-protein mix can be substituted for the flour- all this making it so adaptable and versatile.

Chocolate-Ricotta muffins- I got 16 normal sized muffins

Nonstick spray for the pan
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 to 8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose (can add about 1/2 cup of soy-protein mix for 1/2 cup flour, or you can use 50:50 whole-wheat and AP flour)
1 cup ricotta
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted or oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 12 standard-sized (2 1/2-inch-diameter) muffin cups with nonstick spray. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.

Place the ricotta in a second medium-sized bowl, and add the eggs one at a time, beating well with a medium-sized whisk after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Pour the ricotta mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't overmix; a few lumps are okay.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Fill them even with the top of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for to 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

They are great warm but even better the next day!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Meyer lemon- chocolate tartlets for my Valentine

I made these decadent tartlets for Valentine's day. This is from Fran Bigelow's book, Pure Chocolate. Unlike usual chocolate-only books, this book has a lot of unique recipes, not just the usual chocolate cake and brownie recipes.

You can find recipe for this tart at . The crust is actually a recipe for chocolate wafers. These wafers make great ice cream sandwiches, just like Klondike bars.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lake Como Biscotti

This is one plain, biscotti recipe from Maida Heatter's book of Cookies. Plain does not translate into bad, but in a world of cappuchino and Nutella biscotti this is ordinary. Maybe the kind you will eat in Italy, and that is where Maida had it too.

I have made several biscotti recipes but this recipe was quite finicky- grinding up almonds, getting the zest of lemons etc etc...

Lake como biscotti

2 cups whole blanched almonds (I kept the skin on)
2 cups sifted AP flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp b.powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup minus 2 T sugar
2 large eggs
finely garted rind of 1 large lemon
1 T plus 1.5 tsp lemon juice
scant ½ tsp almond extract

Toast the almonds in a shallow pan in a preheated 350- degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly colored, shaking the pan once or twice. You can tell when they are done by the strong smell of toasted almonds when you open the oven door. Set aside to cool.

Oven 375 F. Turn baking sheets upside down and line with parchment or foil.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, b.powder and salt. Add sugar and mix. Add about ½ cup of this flour mixture to the food processor. Add ½ cup of toasted almond and process for about 30 seconds, or until the nuts is fine and powdery.
In a large bowl, mix together the processed ingredients with the remaining sifted dry ingredients. Stir in the almonds.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with rind, lemon juice and almond extrcat just to mix. With a large rubber or wooden spatula stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until well-moistened.

Lightly flour a large board and turn dough onto it. Sprinkle a little flour on top. Shape it into a mound. With a long, sharp knife, cut into equal quarters. Flour surface and hands and roll each piece into long narrow shape, 10 inch long and 1 inch wide. Brush off loose flour. Don’t flatten tops.

Place all four rolls, crosswise on lined sheets, 2 inch apart. Bake loaves in upper rack for 20 min, reversing halfway. Mine was done in 10 min. I overbaked the logs and result was I had great difficulty slicing and things were falling apart. They should be lightly colored and feel almost firm.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove the sheets from the oven. Immediately, with a wide metal spatula, release a strip from the parchment or foil and place it on a board. Repeat with the second strip. Use a pot holder or a folded towel to hold one of the hot strips in place, and use a serrated French bread knife to cut the strip crosswise into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Repeat with the second strip. For me though, the longer I let the logs sit, the better luck I had slicing them. Place the slices, cut side down, on unlined cookie sheets with a little space between them. Return to oven to bake at 275 degrees for 35-40 minutes, turning slices and reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once during baking. At the end of baking, they should be a pale honey color on both sides. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Comments- The addition of ground almonds did not help the flavor in any way. It is just more work. The whole almonds look very pretty in the biscotti but made slicing difficult. For a plain-tasting biscotti, this is too hard a recipe and it yielded only around 30 for me and not 50 as stated in Maida's book. I still hear great things about her Gingerful biscotti and will be trying them soon.