My mom came across a recipe for ricotta cookies…I think sometime when I was in high school. She doesn’t have the same voracious sweet tooth that I have, so she didn’t make them particularly often, but they didn’t last long when she did. I’ve lost that recipe, and found it, and changed it over the years. Sometime last year I finally settled on my basic mix-up that works perfectly every time.
A few days ago, I posted about my favorite chocolate chip cookies. I hesitated to call them “the best” (though I did get the blessing from my mom’s cousin), because that can be so subjective. I have no hesitations about calling these cookies the best. They really are perfect. They always come out moist and fluffy, no matter what the weather is doing, and they are adaptable to so many flavors Their only downside is that they are decidedly not light on the waistline, since they have such a light flavor that half a dozen disappear before you figure out that you’re the one eating them. Seriously, they are so good that even when I ask Tony what cake he wants for his birthday – I will make any flavor combination no matter how many layers or steps, so this is a big deal – he asks for these cookies. (His birthday was last week, and we’ve not yet had cake, but have had ricotta cookies twice.)
Classic ricotta cookies are simply vanilla-flavored topped with buttercream frosting (even store-bought is delicious on these). I think my favorite to date – drumroll please – are vanilla cookies topped with salted caramel buttercream. I started my holiday baking with this peppermint version, which is just vanilla cookies and 1/2 a bag of Andes peppermint candy chips. The other version pictured are like orange dreamsicles, with 1 teaspoon orange oil instead of vanilla, topped with white chocolate + orange oil drizzle. And, last, I can attest that they are great with lemon extract and lemon buttercream. Oh the possibilities!
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (you can use lower fat versions, but the cookies are not as fluffy)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or other flavors)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups AP flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Add ricotta, butter, and sugar to large bowl and cream together for 3 – 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla or other extract. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Beat for about a minute on medium after both eggs have been added. Add salt and baking soda with one cup of flour. Stir until just blended. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, stirring until just incorporated. Fold in any chips. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12 minutes, or until the bottom edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool on sheets for 3 – 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely. Frost – or not – as desired. Makes about 60 cookies.