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The Sweeter Side of Ricotta – Two Ways – Lacy Brown Butter Cookies and Coffee and Ricotta Marbled Cake

I fault Stella Parks.  It’s 100% on her.  She posted some cookies she mistakenly made with browned butter and ricotta.  They really looked good….so I went out and bought ricotta, I couldn’t help it….. oh holy heck, these cookies are addictive.  You won’t be able to stop eating them.  I sure couldn’t. My son couldn’t.  My mom could but that’s because she has incredible will power and there were already four hands on the cookie plate and we were way too fast.  They didn’t last long, not even a day.

Stella could tell you a 100 reasons why scientifically this cookie works. None of it matters, you only need to worry about eating them. You start off browning some butter, and if you have a leftover vanilla pod throw it in.  Once the browned butter has cooled, stir in the rest of the ingredients, bake, devour.  The rest of your day will be good.

Then, what to do, what to do, with the rest of the ricotta in the container – because Stella’s cookies only need four ounces and there’s sixteen in every ricotta container.  Well, I found yet another delicious application.  De-lici-ous.  And for once the resulting loaf cake, not only didn’t fall, but domed beautifully thanks to the flour batter method.

The flour batter method is when a little flour is beat in with the butter and sugar at the start to ensure the remaining wet ingredients (in this case the ricotta and eggs) fully emulsify in the cake mixture.  It results in a finer crumb texture and prevents it from sinking as easily.  Thank you Dan Lepard!

Dan’s Coffee and Ricotta Marbled Cake is how I used the next five ounces of ricotta.  I am so glad I bought ricotta.  It should really be called Coffee and Rum Marbled Cake because those are the dominant flavors.  It was a hit with everyone in the family….including my three year old.  Should I be worried?  I am.  This cake is already more than half gone and it was made last night and it’s before noon here.  It’s going fast.

I’m sure you’re doing the math and realize that I still have more ricotta….might be time for more of Stella’s cookies!

Lacy Brown Butter and Ricotta Cookies by Stella Parks

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (about 10 tablespoons; 140g)
  • 1 leftover vanilla bean pod, optional (I used a leftover one, from making vanilla sugar)
  • 7 ounces plain or toasted sugar (about 1 cup; 195g)
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (I used a little less sea salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25g) baking soda
  • 4 ounces cold ricotta (about 1/2 cup; 110g), strained if watery (see note)
  • 4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 1 cup, spooned; 125g)

Directions

  1.  In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. When it has completely melted, add vanilla pod (if using) and increase heat to medium. Simmer, stirring and scraping with a heat-resistant spatula while butter hisses and pops. When butter is golden yellow and perfectly silent, remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl, making sure to scrape up all the toasty brown bits from along the bottom. Cool until slightly thickened and opaque, but still slightly warm, around 80°F (27°C). This will take about 75 minutes at room temperature or 25 minutes in the fridge; if refrigerating, stir butter every 6 minutes or so to prevent it from hardening around the edges of the bowl.
  2.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). When brown butter has cooled, remove vanilla pod (if using) and stir in sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda. Stir until baking soda is well distributed, about 1 minute, then fold in cold ricotta. Once ingredients are combined, stir in flour to form a soft dough.
  3. Divide into 1-tablespoon portions and arrange on a parchment-lined half sheet pan, leaving about 4 inches between cookies to account for their significant spread. (If you like, the dough can be placed on a parchment-lined plate and frozen until firm, then transferred to a zip-top bag for storage. It can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.)
  4. Bake until cookies are lacy, thin, and golden brown around the edges, but still rather pale in the middle, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet, as the cookies will be doughy and soft while warm. Enjoy after cooling, or store up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.

Coffee and Ricotta Marbled Cake by Dan Lepard

Dan recommends drizzling this with a simple coffee water icing to finish to dress it up. I didn’t notice this note, but the cake doesn’t need it.  It’s so tasty as it is.  That being said, I may experiment with it a little and try and do a coffee coconut marble cake next time.  There’s a slushy place here that makes a coffee coconut flavor that is out of this world. Those flavors are sticking in my head.

The recipe calls for a 7″ long loaf pan.  The shortest I have is an 8″ and it worked beautifully. I recommend checking the cake early if you also need to adapt for a longer pan, but my cake was ready in 50 minutes, which is within the prescribed time.

  • 2 tablespoons finely ground roasted coffee beans
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (I used regular granulated sugar because I was too lazy to blitz it up, and I never have superfine in the house)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces ricotta
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala or dark rum (I used rum, all out of sweet Marsala)

Line the bottom and sides of a 7″ (or 8″ in my case) loaf pan with parchment paper (I just sprayed really well…was having a very lazy day).  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Stir the ground coffee and boiling water together in a cup and leave for ten minutes to infuse.  Beat the butter and sugar until soft and light, then add the flour, spooning about a quarter of it in with the butter mixture, and beat until smooth.  Beat in the ricotta and then eggs, one at a time.  Sift the baking powder and remaining flour into the mixture and beat lightly.  Divide the mixture in half and beat the coffee mixture through one half and the Marsala/rum through the other.  Spoon the mixture in alternate blobs into the pan.  Tap the pan firmly on the counter to knock out any air bubbles and swirl the batter gently with a skewer (a butter knife in my case).  Bake for 50-60 minutes.

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