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