This orange ricotta muffin recipe is all about the understated and the simple. Which is sort of timely, because I’ve been making a concerted effort to keep this Christmas season simple and stress-free. No last-minute scrambling for gifts – thanks to name-drawing on both sides of the family along with this brilliant concept, our shopping is already done. No five days solid of baking cookies that no one will eat. And NO frickin’ Elf on the Shelf!
I love both orange and rosemary, but it’s easy to overdo it with both flavors, and lord knows I’ve done that in the past. So with these Tuscan Orange Ricotta Muffins, I took it easy – but not too easy – with both the orange zest and the rosemary. And I couldn’t be happier with the results.
These muffins include a few non-traditional ingredients – ricotta cheese, rosemary, and, yep! olive oil! – but they’re actually pretty simple to make, and the outcome is truly scrumptious. They’re super moist and tender with sunny orange flavor highlighted by a touch of rosemary infused into the glaze …
… and another rosemary leaf or two sprinkled on top, if you wish.
I love that these Tuscan Orange Muffins are relatively low fat compared to a lot of other muffin recipes, and most of that fat comes from heart-healthy olive oil. Of course, these muffins really shine when they’re slathered with creamy butter, which sort of takes “healthy” off the table.
Ricotta cheese gives this muffin its light, fluffy texture, and helps keep them moist. I use part-skim ricotta and love the results, but I’d imagine full-fat ricotta would taste even better.
Tuscan Orange Ricotta Muffins with Rosemary-Orange Glaze
A little orange. A touch of rosemary. A subtle (yet stellar!) muffin for a simple season.
For the muffins:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 teaspoons orange zest (I use this Microplane grater, which pretty much changed my life)
- 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large egg
For the glaze:
- 3 tablespoons half-and-half
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves plus additional whole rosemary leaves for garnish
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- Pinch kosher salt
Make the muffins:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter nine cups of a 12-cup standard-size muffin pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, and egg until well-blended.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet. Stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. The batter will be thick.
Divide batter evenly between the nine muffin cups, about 1/3 cup each (note: you can go ahead and make 12 muffins instead of the nine, but they will be flatter and smaller).
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (not wet).
Remove from oven and set pan on a wire rack. Let cool for five minutes, then remove muffins and set on a wire rack set over a layer of paper towels (to catch any glaze overflow).
Make the glaze:
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the half-and-half and rosemary just until steaming. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Add liquid to a small bowl, then sift in powdered sugar. Add orange zest and a pinch of kosher salt. Whisk until smooth. With a spoon, drizzle glaze over the top of the muffins. Drop a fresh rosemary leaf or two on top of each one. Glaze will harden a bit after sitting.
The keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze in a zipper bag for up to three months.
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