Waking up in the morning is hard sometimes. This is especially true as the weather gets colder, the mornings are darker, and “just one more minute” of sleep is the most desirable thing imaginable this side of winning the lottery and moving to one of those overwater bungalows in the The Maldives. Ahem. But a nice breakfast and a pot of coffee can do wonders for making mornings more tolerable. We’re especially fond of breakfasts with bright and sunny flavors, like this lemon almond muffin recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. Better yet? These muffins are incredibly moist thanks to a secret ingredient: cheese!
But we’re not talking about a funky Italian cheese like Taleggio or Parmigiano-Reggiano. We’re talking ricotta.
A lot of muffin and quick bread recipes use some form of dairy to add a rich moistness, often yogurt or sour cream. But for De Laurentiis’ Italian-inspired recipe, mild, milky ricotta is the dairy of choice.
We don’t usually think to pair cheese with sweets, but it works so well in this recipe (and the ricotta adds a protein boost to the recipe, too, so these muffins will really fuel you ’til lunch time). Along with butter and an egg, these muffins don’t stand a chance of being dry and crumbly.
The recipe is flavored with fresh lemon juice, freshly grated lemon zest (from two lemons, so you know they mean business), and just a hint of almond extract. The heady aroma of lemon and almond filling your house as the muffins bake is almost worth it for the scent alone.
As with all Italian baked goods, we think this recipe would be a perfect pair with some espresso – or maybe one of De Laurentiis’ shakeratos or Italian dalgona coffees. Any way you pair it, this is the kind of breakfast that makes us excited to wake up in the morning.
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