real life test kitchen: healthy tuscan lemon muffins

This was the summer where I discovered the joys of baking with lemons. First there was my quest for the perfect lemon pound cake, and now I have discovered what could be our next bake sale entry: healthy lemon Tuscan muffins. This Cooking Light was recipe is super easy to make — you don’t even need an electric mixer. And the results were moist, not-filling and delicious. Since “muffins” are also called “cupcakes” in my household, I topped some of them with a basic cream-cheese icing to please the sweet tooths I live with. If it makes a 4-year old cupcake monster happy, it must be good! Here’s my take on the recipe:

Healthy Tuscan Lemon Muffins
What you need:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (optional)

For icing (optional):

1/2 a stick of butter (1 stick), room temperature
4oz of Philly cream cheese (half a package), room temperature
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

How to make:
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place cupcake liners in a a 12-muffin pan. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Stir together well.
3. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients.
4. Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. (Note: My dough was a bit sticky, so I added a few additional sprinkles of water.)
5. Fill muffin cups with batter, until they are about 2/3rds full. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter. Hold off on this step if you prefer to add icing.
6. Bake at 375° for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
7. If adding icing, mix butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla in mixer until smooth and creamy.
8. Spread icing over muffins with a knife.

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