Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ricotta cheese is a fun ingredient to use in the kitchen because it can be incorporated into so many sweet and savory items. While lasagna or ravioli filling is probably one of my favorite uses, it can be amazing in a variety of baked goods, as well. These simple Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins showcase the mild cheese well – and are studded with chocolate chips for extra sweetness.

The muffins use a generous amount of ricotta cheese instead of other dairy or liquids that would typically be found in a muffin, such as juice, milk or yogurt. The ricotta is thicker and makes a drier batter, but it also gives the muffins a wonderfully soft, tender texture. They are fluffy and tender, but not overly sweet. Vanilla really highlights the soft dairy flavor of the cheese, making the muffins feel rich even though they are relatively plain apart from the chocolate chips. Since the batter is thick, the chocolate chips are nicely suspended in the mix and deliver a delicious burst of chocolate every time you bite into one.

I used whole milk ricotta cheese in this recipe with great results. Part-skim ricotta is also widely available and will work in this recipe, but I would not recommend using fat free ricotta (also available in some places), as that makes muffins that are too dry. Most ricotta cheese will have a texture that is similar to thick yogurt. If your ricotta happens to be unusually dry, stir in 2-3 tablespoonfuls of milk to loosen it up, as that will make the batter come together more easily.

I like these muffins when they are still slightly warm from the oven, with the chocolate chips just a bit melty. They are still good the next day and actually keep well for a day or two when stored in an airtight container after baking. Feel free to sub out the chocolate chips for ripe berries when they are in season for a little variety! You can also add in a tablespoon of lemon or orange zest for another alternative to vanilla.

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the ricotta cheese. Stir in the remaining flour mixture and the chocolate chips, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until muffins are set and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12.

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