Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes

As an avid baker, I am often asked about sugar-free cupcake recipes. Some people are interested because they are diabetic, and some just want to reduce their intake of white granulated sugar. Luckily, there's a new cookbook by Joanne Chang, Baking With Less Sugar: Recipes for Desserts Using Natural Sweeteners and Little-to-No White Sugar

I rediscovered how much I love ricotta cheese when I bought some last weekend at the Farmer's Market. It is a versatile soft cheese that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In fact, I have used ricotta along with cream cheese to make a rich and flavorful cupcake frosting.  In the cookbook, there's a nice recipe for lemon ricotta cupcakes that uses honey instead of sugar.

Note: Unlike with most cupcake recipes, it is best to make the frosting at least four hours before the cupcake so that it can set.

  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 whole large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup crème fraiche (see note)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 52 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes
 1. At least 4 hours in advance, make the frosting: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium speed for at least three to four minutes, or until perfectly smooth. (Cream cheese has a tendency to lump up easily, so don’t skip this step.) Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bowl and add the butter and 1 Tbsp lemon zest. Add the honey, vanilla, and salt and beat well on medium speed until thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the frosting for at least  four hours before using to firm it up. The frosting can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin tin, and line with cupcake liners.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, oil, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk until well combined. Whisk in the crème fraîche. In a separate medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the batter is consistent. Be careful not to over-mix.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups of the muffin tin. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are pale golden brown and spring back when you press them in the center with your finger. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

5. Cupcakes must be cool before frosting, or the frosting will slide off the cupcakes. Remove the frosting from the refrigerator.  Using an offset spatula or a piping bag, spread or pipe the cupcakes with frosting, garnish with the remaining lemon zest, and serve. The frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove at least 1 hour before serving so the cupcakes are brought up to room temperature for better flavor. Garnish with the remaining lemon zest.

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Lifestyle Magazine: Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes
Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes
Lifestyle Magazine
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