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What Are Ricotta Cookies?

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  • Written By: Jack Magnus
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2016
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Italian ricotta cookies are made with ricotta cheese. Ricotta is a sweet cheese similar to cottage or farmer cheese. It is used in many recipes, including lasagna, stuffed shells and manicotti, as well as in cookies, cakes and fillings for cannoli and other Italian pastries.

Unlike biscotti, ricotta cookies are moist and more like a cake than a hard or crunchy biscuit. Ricotta cookies are made with butter, sugar, flour and eggs. These ingredients are blended together with flavorings such as vanilla, orange or lemon. Spoonfuls of the mixture are dropped onto cookie sheets for baking.

While there is no need to add flavorings to the basic ingredients, many bakers choose to do so. For orange- or lemon-flavored cookies, one should use both an extract and zest, the finely grated rind of citrus fruits. One can buy zest or simply grate the skin of a fresh lemon or orange, being careful to get only the colored top layer of the peel, not the bitter white innerlayer. Ricotta cookies also can be topped with icing made of sugar, cream and flavorings.

There are different methods of preparing ricotta cookie dough. An easy method is to simply put all the ingredients into a bowl for processing with an electric mixer. In other recipes, the butter, cheese and eggs are blended separately and then the flour is lightly folded into the mixture. Each technique yields ricotta cookies with a different texture.

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Ricotta also is used in making cakes. A basic ricotta loaf cake is similar in shape and texture to a pound cake and is made of flour, eggs, butter and sugar. A ricotta cheesecake has a lighter and more delicate texture than a traditional cheesecake. It is made with less sugar and flour than the loaf cake and no butter. Both the loaf and cheesecake are usually flavored with almond and vanilla, but they also can be flavored with nutmeg, orange and lemon.

Another cake that is fairly simple to put together uses a commercial pound or sponge cake filled with a mixture of ricotta, sugar and fruit. Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and peaches are all suitable. One also can make a flat sponge cake that is covered with ricotta and a fruit mixture and then rolled up.

Cannoli is another Italian pastry that has a filling made of ricotta cheese. The cheese is mixed with sugar, corn starch, milk and flavorings such as almond, cinnamon or lemon. The ingredients are blended and heated over a slow flame. After the mixture has cooled, it is spooned into pre-made cannoli shells.

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