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I am a professional and a cook,rather a cook by choice and passion.Cooking is something I fantasise about.When I first thought of starting a blog,a thousand ideas coursed through my mind,albeit,none stood the sands of time.Except for the thought of a food blog accompanied by subtle nuances from daily life and from the world around me!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate and Ricotta cheese muffins for a white Valentine's Day!

We had a lovely Sunday lunch yesterday. We were slated to have snow today down here in the South and Midwest - so something inside my head was telling me to soak up all that lovely sunshine, gently warming the blanket of verdant green grass overlooking my friend's front porch.While wandering about, a couple of deep burrows in the thick torso of a gnarled, aged tree caught my eye.As I looked on intently, a couple of busy-bodied little squirrels, their thick bushy tails glistening in the sunshine, emerged out of the dark abyss of the burrows, meandered about a little on the edges of the branches and then rushed back in.I learnt from my friend, that of late the squirrels have been keeping very busy on days that are sunny, stacking up their resources to keep them warm and fed on the days that are cold and dank.And they might have already got an inkling of the snow scheduled for today which explained all that urgent preoccupation.And we think we are the ones endowed with all that intelligence - huh!
 Anyway, all that amusement led me away from what I intended to start with. And that was the table my friend had laid for us. All of it was extravagant Indian fare which started off grandly with a homemade Mutton Biryani and Chicken Korma curry. For friends who have not had an opportunity to taste Biryani yet, it is basically an extravagant rice and mutton dish, dipped in fragrant aromatic spices, not too overwhelming but pleasantly sublime and cooked on steam.Traditionally this dish has its roots in Persia or Iran, as we now know it as, but food historians say that it might have an Arabian link as well. The fun part is that we Indians are fortunate enough to have tasted Biryanis from both Iranian and Arabian cuisines - the Iranian recipe being brought over majorly to the northern, eastern and western parts of the Indian subcontinent in the late 17th and early 18th centuries by the Mughal rulers while the Arabian recipe being carried over to the southern fringes by the Arabian traders and merchants. In due course of time, each community in India learnt to develop their own style of cooking Biryani which resulted in the birth of more than fifty existing styles of Biryani today which are either gloriously anointed with the name of the place where the style originated or a particular method of cooking it. Some are spicy and hot, some are mildly spiced but nuttier - but the base of long grained Basmati rice, tender mutton, freshly ground spices and fresh clarified butter or 'Ghee' remains essentially the same.Which is what gave me the chutzpah to cross over my limits of sane,healthy eating and gorge on all that rich goodness at my friend's yesterday!
Still rife from the Biryani hangover, I sat snuggled up in my living room settee, early today morning. And watched the snowflakes, large and soft settling on the already pristine white rooftops and car tops, on the juniper branches in the compound below and on the walkways. The lazy bum in me craved for some piping hot goodness to go with my morning cup of coffee. If I haven't told you yet, yes we were slathered with a snow haul last night, just as the weather reports had predicted!I sprung up, a sudden energy creeping into me from somewhere and got to work, baking a batch of plump and moist chocolate muffins, the only added ingredient being Ricotta cheese.I had been struggling to infuse a wholesome moistness into the muffins I baked for quite some time, since every time I bake muffins, the husband whines that a bit more moistness would please his palate better.This time, I put my can of Ricotta cheese to use and voila,it worked!I still have to see if the moistness stays for some time, but as of now I am contented digging into the chocolatey goodness on a snowy day.And if you are wondering why I took the husband's whining to heart after all this time, I will smugly tell you that because it is Valentine's day tomorrow:) The happier I can keep him around this time, the lovelier my gift will be.....tee heee!Don't let out my secret guys and have a wonderful Valentine's day - lots of LOVE in the air (and snow)!!

Super-moist Chocolate and Ricotta cheese muffins
You will need:
Ricotta cheese - 3/4th of a tub i.e 7 oz or 350 gm approx.
All purpose flour - 1 and 1/2 cups
Granulated castor sugar - 1 and 1/4th cups
Unsalted butter - 5 tablespoons (melted)
2 large eggs
Unsweetened chocolate - 1/2 a cup
Whole milk - 1 and 1/2 cups
Baking soda - 2 teaspoons
Vanilla extract - 1 and 1/2 teaspoons
Bittersweet chocolate chips - 1/2 a cup
Salt - 1/2 a teaspoon

How I made it:
1. Preheat often to 375 degrees and butter a muffin tin. You can line with cupcake liners but I like muffins straight out of the tin.
2. In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and unsweetened chocolate and mix together very evenly.In a separate large bowl, add the Ricotta cheese and eggs and beat till smooth with an electric beater. Next add the granulated castor sugar and beat again till the mixture becomes smooth and the sugar is incorporated well in the cheese mixture.

3. Next add in the Vanilla extract and whole milk and fold in lightly using a spatula. The batter might become a bit runny due to the addition of milk but don't worry - once the flour mixture is added, the batter will get back its consistency.

4. Next, add the flour mixture to the cheese and milk mixture in batches, folding in gently after every addition.take care not to over-mix, since that could make the muffins hard. Lightly folding in is just good enough.Keep adding the flour till all of it is exhausted and your muffin batter is now ready.
 5. Pour the batter into the muffin tins till almost 3/4th of it since the muffins will not rise as much due to the heaviness of the cheese. Stick in a couple of chocolate chips on top so that they retain their shape even when baked.Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes till a toothpick tells that it is done. Note that the inside of the muffins may still feel a bit moist when the outside is done and you should stop baking while some of the wet batter still sticks to the toothpick. This will result in a soft gooey interior which will leave the muffins moist but not messy.Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before taking the first bite. Feel the goodness, enjoy the love and 'Happy Valentine's Day'!

43 thoughtful musings left behind...:

Soni said...

Delish!Perfect and moist muffins!Stay warm my friend :)

Suchi said...

Hey Sudha,
Lovely muffins :-) Stay warm and enjoy the snow. Have a great Val Day, hope your gift from husband is great too :-) Mine is lost in post my frustrated husband has already confessed....

Suchi said...

You have done some changes to your blog, haven't you?

Miz Helen said...

Hi Sudha,
It is very cold here today and I would love to cuddle up by the fire with one of your wonderful muffins! Hope you are having a great day and thanks for shairing!
Miz Helen

The Better Baker said...

Oh Sudha! Those muffins look ever sooo wonderful and yummy. I've already made my Valentine's Day Goodies, but will keep these in mind for another celebration of sorts.

maha said...

muffins look wonderful and yummy..pics r nice.......

Rasi said...

the muffins are scrumptious :) happy valentines's day!! i wish i could dig into them right now... :)

Eftychia said...

Happy Valentines Day!! I am preparing for my Valentines post and the award. BTW the muffins look and sound PERFECT!!

Hema said...

Snow outside and warm muffins inside, they look perfect, enjoy your day, Happy Valentine's..

Sobha Shyam said...

aren't they pretty and yummy muffins :)..feel like grabbing a few..blog has also a new look i guess..!!

Happy Valentines Day !!

Join the Just "4" Fun event :)

Aruna Manikandan said...

First time here....
Muffins look yummy....
glad to follow u :)

Indrani Bagchi said...

Hi Sudha, thanks for your nice comments! Every time I visit your blog, it is such a welcome break! Good food and a lot of creativity abound in your blog.Just loved the chocolate muffins...ideal for any special occasion. I would love to have them any time!

faseela said...

Superbly done muffins.....apt for the occasion.....

Happy Valentines Day Dear, Hope u enjoyed it well.

Luvd the new luk of your blog....1 suggestion, u could have put any of the cake or dessert clicks too at the heading, it could be luking more asttractive.

hemalata said...

Yummy muffins,looks so soft and spongy.Happy valentines day dear.

Aarthi said...

WOW..I love this..Thanks for posting it Dear..

Aarthi
http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/

Anu said...

Looks yum and delicious

Kalyani said...

delicious and tempting muffins ....

Elpiniki said...

I love chocolate cupcakes! These look yummy!
Happy Valentine's Day!

vineetha said...

I love watching squirels too..
Nice post for Valentines day...Thanks a ton for sharing the award with me ,I m sorry I missed the first comment u left :)

Indulge said...

The new template and the header works for our wisdom and wits. The blog looks fresh and nice choice of colors too. The snow and baking goes hand in hand, so sad we did not get nay snow this year. paid day off form work and baking to one's content is missed terribly at my home. Happy V day and love your gifts.
Love Ash.

Lizzy said...

I love your new header! So nice!! As are these moist and chocolaty muffins...yum! Perfect treat for any Valentine...and worth an occasional splurge :)

Claudia said...

This goes to my ricotta-loving soul - anything ricotta and I am there - these must be so wonderfully moist - and maybe t touch of ricotta tang? I hope to have biryani hangover one day - sounds delicious.

La @ FoodSlice said...

You have a lovely space Sudha. The muffins and the little chocolate chips on top look really beautiful.

The Pumpkin Farm said...

Lovely looking muffins, enjoy your winter

Anzz said...

Wow, a white Valentines would be awesome. Clinking glasses of wine, hot steamy food, red balloons and falling snow... amazing.! Loved the muffin...

My event- Valentines Day Special

An Open Book said...

never used ricotta in baking cake...looks pretty moist..must try it once...love the cute muffins

Suchi said...

Regarding the changes to your blog, they are looking nice. The overall look of your blog is the same-- warm and bright, yet there are subtle differences. I like it that way :-) I had just noticed, hence the comment...

Amelia's De-ssert said...

Hi Sudha, finally I manage to get into your comment box.
Oh.. your muffin look delicious, wish I can 2 pieces now. So chocolatey yummy.

Happy belated valentine day.

I just updated my 'keep the romance rolling" posting,the other day I was rushing to publish it before valentine.
Please drop by my blog to claim your awards which I'm gladly wish to share with you.

Have a nice day.
Regards Amelia

Amina Khaleel said...

muffins look fabulous... chocolatey and delicious...

Viviane Bauquet Farre said...

Delish, Sudha! I just love when people use ricotta in chocolatey desserts. It does worlds for the texture! Brava - these look scrumptious.

Sudha said...

Thanks to all my dear friends who cared to stop by and leave me their lovely thoughts!I hope all of you a great Valentine's Day this year:)Do keep coming back!

Ambreen said...

Your muffins look really good! Love the new look of your blog too! Thank you dear for visiting & for your lovely comments :)

LinsFood said...

You know, I've never combined ricotta and chocolate before! I'm really curious to see how it turns out, will have to give this a try, thanks for sharing this!

Suchi said...

Hi Sudha, I am glad to pass on The Versatile Blog Award to your lovely blog.

kitty said...

Hi Sudha, the muffins look so chocolatey & wonderful...mmmmm!! Hope you had a great Valentine's Day!

Patsy said...

Sudha...how are you, my friend. I hope you had a lovely Valentine's day. I'm sure your hubby enjoyed these yummy sounding muffins! Patsy ox

Rettabug said...

Your chocolatey muffins look really good, Sudha! How nice of you to make them for your sweetheart & try to please him by making them more moist. My DH has the same complaints if something is too dry...he hates cornbread for just that reason.

I have heard that canned pumpkin will add needed moisture but your ricotta cheese sounded like a better idea!

Belated "Happy Valentines Day" wishes to you both.

fondly,
Rett

Ambreen said...

Dear Sudha! I've tagged you, please check it out :)

Tropical Cake Balls; Tagged & Award

Suchi said...

Hi Sudha how are you doing? Hope you have fought off the cold and dealt with laptop issues....:-)

Vicki Bensinger said...

I've never made a muffin with ricotta but I'm sure it makes them extremely moist. These look beautiful and with the addition of chocolate I know they're delicious. Thank you for sharing.

Only Fish Recipes said...

wow...what lovely cupcakes...ricotto with chocolate...great combination....the cupcakes look very moist n delicious :-)

faseela said...

Hello Sudha, it is almost 1 month, wht happened, didnt c u for long....Hope you are doing good out there.....

maha said...

i read a comment in faseela`s space abt ur space prblm..felt very sad...n way.wish u all the best to restart the posting....

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