Summer is just around the corner and that means longer, hotter days and kids running around the house 24/7 (if you are a parent). Although summer is supposed to be a more relaxed time of year it can actually be more hectic, especially if you are an adult with school age children. With the summer schedule already (or about to be) in full gear, it is good to have versatile recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and light on the palate.
Muffins are my preferred versatile recipe item, mainly because they were the first thing I learned to bake on my own as a kid. They are quick and easy to prepare, leave minimal clean-up, and have a seemingly infinite amount of flavor combinations so you never get bored. Today, I elected to work with the flavors of Italy, hence the name Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins. A combination of classic Italian ingredients (lemon, ricotta, and olive oil) creates a tart and satisfying muffin. The combination of ricotta cheese and olive oil make this muffin insanely moist, like a mini lemon pound cake. For striking lemon flavor, lemon zest and juice was not enough. To get lemon flavor that shines through everything else, I added lemon extract with the zest and juice. If you don’t like a heavy lemon flavor you can always omit the extract. Lastly, each muffin is finished with a heavy sprinkle of turbinado sugar to lend a crunchy textural contrast.
I highly recommend giving these muffins a try, especially this summer. They are great fresh out of the oven, at room temperature, or reheated. If you want to keep some on hand for quick snacks they can be frozen for longer storage and reheated in the microwave or simply left out to thaw on the counter to room temperature. If you elect to keep them at room temperature right after baking, make sure you store them in an airtight container and do not hold for more than 3 days (although they will likely never last that long). Enjoy these muffins at breakfast with coffee, grab one out the door before work/school, enjoy one as a sweet afternoon snack with tea, or fulfill a late night sweet craving. The possibilities are seemingly endless!
Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins
- 7.9 ounces All-Purpose Flour (about 1 ¾ cups)
- ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- ¾ cup part-skim Ricotta Cheese
- ½ cup Water
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp. Grated Lemon Zest
- 2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
- ½ tsp. Pure Lemon Extract
- 1 large Egg; lightly beaten
- Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw); for topping
- Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or fill tray with muffin-cup liners and coat liners with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine ricotta, water, oil, zest, juice, lemon extract, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
- Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter in each muffin cup. Bake 15-16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm.
Weight Watchers: 7 Smart Points, 4 Points Plus, or 4 Traditional Points
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MAUREEN CALLAHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017
Happy Birthday America. Today is the 4th of July, 2014 and the day America celebrates its Independence. Today across America we will be having barbecues serving traditional American fare and watching firework shows bursting with the colors of red, white, and blue. Here in America we usually like to spread the traditional themes into everything we do, including dessert. With that said, I present to you the red, white, and blue mini cakes.
I really must say this is the perfect Independence-themed dessert and I am not just referring to the colorful layers. The reason I adore these little cakes so much is a lot to do with their ease of transport to any festivity you may be attending. Also one single batch yields so many little cakes that you don’t have to worry about doubling or tripling a recipe just so that everyone in the family has a chance to try at least one. With this recipe you can let everyone have seconds or depending on the size of the party, possibly even thirds. Needless to say you will have plenty of little cakes for the abundance of fingers ready to snatch one after the other.
In case you are wondering what makes up each colorful layer, let’s break it down. To begin this holiday treat, I turned to Red Velvet cake to deliver a rich red color and sturdy foundation for the other layers. The white layer is a light & fluffy whipped cream to balance the rich density of the red velvet cake. To make sure the whipped cream held up to summer heat I made sure to stabilize it with some gelatin. This not only keeps it from melting as quickly but also creates a smoother and creamier topping. For the final touch, the quintessential blue is found with the garnish of a little blueberry. If you wanted to get creative and mix up the color scheme, you could make blue velvet cake, use the same white whipped cream and top with a fresh raspberry or cherry. Really any fruit that could give a pop of red. I prefer red velvet cake over blue and I also feel the blueberry does not add too much weight to the whipped cream making it simple for new bakers or rushed bakers needing a quick dessert to bake and take.
These mini cakes serve about 60 people. You can use any recipe you have for red velvet cake or use a box mix.
Red, White, & Blue Mini Independence Day Cakes
- 1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix or your favorite Red Velvet Cake recipe
- 1 tsp. Powdered Gelatin; unflavored
- 2 tbsp. Water
- 2 ¼ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
- ¼ cup Confectioners’ Sugar; sifted
- Blueberries; for garnish
- Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Prepare red velvet cake according to box mix directions or if using your own recipe follow directions to make batter. Once batter is prepared, pour evenly into the prepared mini muffin tin, filling each muffin cup just above halfway. Bake for approximately 16 minutes. Remove from oven and place cakes on a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat steps with remaining batter.
- Once cakes have cooled completely prepare the whipped cream topping. Combine the gelatin and water in a medium bowl. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes for the gelatin to soften. Meanwhile, bring ¼ cup of Heavy Whipping Cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, whisk in the gelatin mixture until no clumps remain. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 3 to 5 minutes. With an electric hand mixer set to medium-high speed, beat the cooled gelatin mixture, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining cream to stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
- To assemble the mini cakes, place the whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe a rosette onto each each mini cake, making sure to build up enough cream on each cake to hold the weight of the blueberry. Once all cakes have been iced with the whipped cream topping, garnish each rosette center with a blueberry. Refrigerate mini cakes until set, about 2 hours. Cakes can be stored up to 24 hours ahead of time before serving.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS
ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2014