Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins

Banana Ricotta Coconut Muffins

My husband told me the other day about peanuts and Coke. Apparently there are people in this world who dump peanuts into Coke and drink it like that. Am I the last one to hear about this? Am I just too young? Or too Yankee? Isn’t there something in the Bible about not mixing salted legumes with a syrupy carbonated beverage? Yeah, I think it’s in Leviticus. Glenn the blasphemer says it’s delicious and is completely unrepentant about how much of it he drank as a cherubic little blonde southern boy. I can just hear him now saying “Yes ma’am!” and “I’m fixin’ to drink this Coke with peanuts!” He says the saltiness of the peanuts mixes with the sweetness of the Coke, and two things just don’t seem to fit together end up making something that might make a little tow-headed Glenn slap his grandma! And you can’t get more Southern than peanuts + Coke, by the way.

Southerners seem to be really good at this–putting stuff together that just doesn’t seem to fit–and making it taste wonderful. Have you ever heard of mayonnaise cake? It’s sounds downright nasty at first; but if you think about it, mayonnaise has the tanginess and creamy consistency of sour cream. I know I’ve put sour cream in cakes before…haven’t you? So, maybe it’s not such a stretch.  

Mixing Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins

Last week I had some homemade ricotta cheese left over…just enough to feel guilty about throwing away, but not enough to do much with. So, I decided to try it in muffins. With a little maneuvering to make sure the ricotta was balanced out by a wetter dairy product (um, that would be milk, and “wetter” is not a good word), this recipe came out great. The muffins are so moist and have a slight tang–as if I had added buttermilk or sour cream. The sweetened coconut is an excellent contrast and adds texture. A sprinkle of turbinado sugar (or just regular granulated sugar) creates a nice sweet crunch on top. 

Yes, those are my feet.

 Yes, those are my feet.

 

I don’t care how hot it is outside, these are absolutely worth the 18-20 minutes your oven is on.

   Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins Side Shot

 

 Even peanuts + Coke couldn’t compete.

 

Muffins with Butter part 2

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Homemade Ricotta Cheese

When I think of cheesemaking, I think of sitting under a cow or goat for fresh milk, stirring said fresh milk in a giant heated vat, and adding enzymes that I would buy, um, where exactly does one buy enzymes?  But thanks to David Lebovitz and Simply Recipes, I realized that making ricotta cheese at home is frighteningly easy (frighteningly because I’ll be making it every night!).

Making ricotta cheese, step one.

Not cheese yet

All you have to do is bring whole milk, whole milk yogurt, vinegar, and salt to a boil and let the mixture gently boil for one or two minutes.

Almost cheese

Almost cheese

Take some cheesecloth (which you can buy at pretty much any grocery store), and place it inside a large bowl. Pour the mixture in the bowl, making sure the edges of the cheesecloth stay above the mixture.

Take up the cheese cloth, draining the whey from the curds, and tie it (you may need an extra pair of fingers) to a long spoon or spatula. Hover it over a deep bowl (mine wasn’t quite deep enough) or the sink (as above). Let it drain for about 15 minutes. You can serve it immediately, put it on pizza or pasta, or put it in the refrigerator for up to three days.

 

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Homemade ricotta is much much better than any ricotta you get from the grocery store. It has a fresh, milky smell, and is perfect on this recipe for pizza with fresh vegetables and proscuitto. I’ve also used it in muffins (gasp!) to replace buttermilk or sour cream. If you do use it as a replacement for these, just make sure you balance the recipe out by adding a bit more milk so it doesn’t get too dense.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese (adapted only slightly from Simply Recipes

Makes 2 cups

2 quarts whole milk

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I use Fage)

Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream (I did not use this, but if anyone does, tell me how you like it)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp. of salt, but I thought it could have used more)