Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love that the sweet equals the tart.
I love the cakey center and the crunchy crust.
You are irresistible and please the crowds.
You are Italian, so you are a cookie after my own heart.
You gladden the heart of my brother, Charles, too.
For that, I will continue to make you all the days of my life.

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Yield:  4 dozen

Ingredients:
ricotta lemon cookies
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs (a large egg equals 2 ounces, do not use xl eggs)
1 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of one 4-5 oz lemon)

Glaze:
1½ cup powdered sugar
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of one 4-5 oz lemon)

Mise en Place:
There is a fancy cooking term called, mise en place (me-zahn-plahs)It means to “put into place” which in the kitchen means to measure all the ingredients ahead of time, so they are ready to go when you start cooking. I’m frequently in a rush and don’t bother to do this extra step, but today, I decided to give it a try. It was so calming! I plan to make this a regular cooking practice.
ricotta lemon cookies

Measure and combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Melt the butter; set aside. Measure sugar; set aside. Crack open the two eggs; set aside. Measure ricotta. Zest and juice the lemons.

How to Zest and Juice a Lemon for your Mise en Place:
As part of my mise en place strategy, I did all the prep work on my lemons first. I used the fine-holed Microplane grater to zest the two lemons.  Grating the brightly colored rind of the citrus fruit is a great way to add intense flavor to food. Be careful not to grate past the yellow rind as the white pith below the rind is bitter.
ricotta lemon cookies
Next, slice the two rindless lemons in half and squeeze the juices out using a juicer.
ricotta lemon cookies
Strain the lemon juice to get rid of seeds.
ricotta lemon cookies

Instructions:
1) Preheat oven to 375º

2) Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, lightly grease the baking sheets with canola oil.

3). In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for two minutes. Beat for the full two minutes as this will incorporate air into the batter which will make for a lighter cookie.
ricotta lemon cookies

4) Add eggs and beat for 30 seconds.

ricotta lemon cookies

5) Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and ricotta and beat for one minute on medium speed. Be sure to use a spatula to incorporate the ingredients that have settled onto the bottom of the mixing bowl, into the batter.

ricotta lemon cookies

6) Add the flour, baking powder and salt mixture and stir (the lowest speed on a mixer) for a minute. Do not overmix or whip. We don’t want to awaken the gluten in the flour, so the batter becomes elasticky. We want the cookies to have a cake-like texture.

ricotta lemon cookies ricotta lemon cookies ricotta lemon cookies

7) Use a tablespoon to drop the cookie dough onto the pan. Use about one heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie.

ricotta lemon cookies

8) Bake for 15-20 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, rotate your cookie sheets in the oven. Cookies are done when their bottom edges just start to darken.

ricotta lemon cookies

Leave cookies on the pan to cool for 10 minutes. Peel cookies off the parchment paper and place directly on a wire cooling rack so the bottoms can air dry and become crisp.

Mise en Place for Glaze:

1) Mix together powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir.

ricotta lemon cookies
2) When cookies are cool, use a knife to spread a thin layer of glaze over each of them. Let glaze harden for at least three hours before stacking.

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P.S. I’ve heard from relatives that you can make these cookies with orange or lime juice and zest, too.

Other cookies and sweet breads:
Sorghum Oatmeal Cookies with Ginger and Cranberries
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
Ellen’s Most Moist Zucchini Bread

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© 2014 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

12 thoughts on “Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

  1. They look so,good, I think I will make these tomorrow for Christmas. My mom loved these. I found her recipe and they are nearly the same. Thanks for making me think of my mom.

  2. Just finished making this — fabulous! I got lots more than 4 dozen so happy didn’t have to make it twice. My neighbors will go wild about the fact it’s not chocolate around the holidays. Thanks!!

    1. So thrilled to read this, Ginger! You are the first person who has written to say you made them and they turned out “fabulous-ly”. Makes me smile! Have a great rest of the day and Merry Christmas to you! xo

  3. Made these yesterday and they are super yum! Easy and a nice change of pace from the average cookie. Have shared your blog with this recipe with a few folks already 🙂

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