I’m not much of a baker. It’s not that I don’t like baking, or that I’m particularly bad at it, I just don’t do it very often. I love to cook and try recipes, but one of the things I like best about cooking is the experimentation and improvisation of it all. I like to riff, which doesn’t really fly in baking.
But I do like sweets, and I love cookies – the perfect little hand-held sugar fix. Not as messy as cupcakes and less of a commitment than cake, cookies have always felt more like a treat to me than an actual dessert. So I was particularly excited when I heard about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. This swap, made up of hundreds of food bloggers from around the world, was a great idea by the girls, and the perfect excuse to bake. To participate, I had to bake three dozen cookies and mail a dozen each to the three bloggers I was assigned (Kara, Vicki and Sue – enjoy!). In return, I will get a dozen cookies from three other food bloggers. Cool.
So I made my famous Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Well, they’re actually Giada’s Lemon Ricotta Cookies but since they’re the cookies I’ve made more than any other, they feel like something special to me.
What makes these cookies even more special is that I made them with the very first lemon my Meyer lemon tree ever produced. How cool is that?!
I like these cookies because they’re not overly sweet. The tangy ricotta and kick of lemon work well together. The use of a Meyer lemon – which is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange – makes them a little less lemony with a sweeter, more floral flavor. But if you don’t have a Meyer lemon tree growing in your kitchen (ha!), regular lemons work fine (and are what the recipe calls for). I’ve also been curious about using an orange or lime in this recipe. I bet it’d be delicious.
Check out my tree. I used the lemon hanging to the right in the recipe (plus one more regular lemon – this recipe requires quite a bit of both juice and zest). One of the things I noticed about working with such a fresh lemon was the texture. Store-bought lemons are usually so hard. The skin and pith was so soft it nearly fell apart when I juiced it. I had a little helper in the kitchen while I was baking, too. His name is Pippin.
When you mix up the dough, don’t completely mix in the ricotta. Having some small lumps of it in the batter will make the cookies extra moist. It should look something like this. (PS this cookie dough tastes AMAZING.)
Once the cookies have baked, you know the edges are done when they start to brown. The tops will remain pretty light so be careful not to overcook them.
When the cookies are completely cool, smear a little of the glaze on them. I make the glaze a little bit thicker than the recipe calls for so it doesn’t run down off the cookie too much.
Enjoy! I’ve enjoyed the swap so far, and will be looking forward to the next Food Blog Cookie Swap in 2012!
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: at least 2 hours, more with cooling
These cookies are extra moist, and sweet yet tangy. Make with lemons, or try other kinds of citrus. Unless your lemons are very fresh, you'll need at least two and maybe three to get enough juice.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add in eggs, one at a time and beat with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy. Add in ricotta, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and zest and mix in.
3. Gently add in flour mixture to ricotta mixture and stir until just mixed. In 2 tablespoon scoops, spoon batter onto baking sheet. Bake until edges turn golden brown, 14-15 minutes. When done, cool at least 20 minutes on wire rack.
4. Combine glaze ingredients together. Spread on cookies once completely cool. Let glaze set at least 30 minutes to harden before packaging.
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian