Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Italian Ricotta Cookies


I had an industrial-sized hankering for some chicken quesadillas the other night. 

I didn't make them because I didn't have all the ingredients to do so, and to be honest, I didn't feel like assembling them either. I just wanted them to appear in front of me at the nod of my head and snap of my fingers. 

I had to run to the store to grab a couple essentials anyway, so I thought I better get what I need to make them since that whole magic crap clearly wasn't going to happen for me. 

I picked up a bag of ice (Note to self: next refrigerator must have an ice dispenser - why on earth am I paying $2.99 for a bag of frozen water? Before you say it, yes, I could freeze my own, but no I don't want to as I prefer it crushed to a honking cube of it) ANYWAY - I noticed they now sell quesadillas frozen. Hmmm. Interesting. Of course, this may seem a bit weird to you that I didn't know something like this, but I really didn't.

I'll tell you why. 

I hate prepackaged foods. Not because they don't taste good - they do, well, most do, but because I'm diabolical at preparing them. Simply awful. 

I can't tell you how many times I have burned, scorched, undercooked, half-cooked, or almost blew the door off my oven with foods that seem to be common sense to prepare. Preheat oven, tear off plastic lining, place in oven for X amount of minutes and presto. Easy enough, right?

Nope. Not for me. I manage to screw something up. Every. Time. It's easier for me to make something from scratch and I find it's usually much quicker as well. I mean, I don't want to wait 6 hours for a lasagna to bake, only to find the center is as frozen as my ex-boyfriend's heart.  

I have the same mentality when it comes to making certain foods, like homemade candy bars. I love the idea, but it's just easier for me to run to the store and pick up a Milky Way. Do I really need 84 homemade jobbers lying around, waiting to be devoured, then hating myself if I succumb to the desire? 

But these? Oh, these are worth the effort and having a thousand lying around. When I still lived back home, I used to travel to NYC quite often and had my favorite food stops. Balducci's for their bread; Zabar's for their chicken salad, and Di Palo's for their (Italian) Ricotta Cookies. 

Since I haven't been there in quite sometime, these are a very nice version.

And as colorful as my next door neighbor's language. Eek.


1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste 
15 ounces ricotta cheese, drained well


6 ounces Marscapone cheese -  if you can't find it, cream cheese works fine.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Food coloring

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, work in ricotta cheese gently. Wrap dough in cling wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Dough will be very sticky.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

Using a large ice cream scoop with a retractable mechanism, scoop out dough onto parchment paper or silicone mat. These cookies don't really spread, so the shape you put on the mat is the shape the cookie will come out. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, careful not to over bake. Cool for 2 minutes and transfer to wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

To make frosting:

Using a hand mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and marscapone or cream cheese and blend well. 

Add in food coloring. Mix until combined. Using an offset spatula, frost cookies. 

Yield: 2½ dozen.

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