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Italian Cherry Ricotta Cheese Muffins

Bite into one of these delicious muffins and experience the flavors of southern Italy -- ricotta cheese and cherries! Did you know that fresh ricotta cheese is the main ingredient in southern Italian sweet delicacies like Italian cheesecake and cannolis?
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2016-06-14-1465884382-4998920-CherryRicottaMuffinsLayne

Bite into one of these delicious muffins and experience the flavors of southern Italy -- ricotta cheese and cherries! Did you know that fresh ricotta cheese is the main ingredient in southern Italian sweet delicacies like Italian cheesecake and cannolis? It's much healthier than the artery clogging processed cream cheese that is typically used in American desserts. Fresh ricotta cheese (mixed with sugar and lemon zest) is also a treat served straight up with fresh fruit.

Most of Italy's cherries are grown in the region of Puglia, located in the heel of the country. In June, the harvest is celebrated with cherry festivals. There is an Italian saying, "Una ciliegia tira l'altra" or "One cherry leads to another". That saying is also true in the U.S. where we just can't get enough of the short season when sweet cherries are at peak flavor.
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Cherry Facts:

Layne's Italian Cherry Ricotta Cheese Muffin Recipe:

Ingredients (use organic when available):

  • 1/2-cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2-cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1-cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3-cup raw sugar
  • 1-teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2-teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8-teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half or 1 cup frozen cherries, pitted and thawed
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Place rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Spray a 8-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta cheese with the egg, beating well. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and applesauce until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined and then fold in the chopped cherries. Do not over mix this mixture or the muffins texture will be hard.

Evenly scoop the batter into muffin cups.

Place in the oven and bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Makes 8 muffins.

Nutrition facts per serving: 140 calories, 2.2 grams fat, 160 mg sodium, 161 mg potassium, 25 g carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 1.0 g dietary fiber, 10 percent daily value calcium.

For more healthy and delicious recipes check out Layne's award winning diet and lifestyle cookbook Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy.