SWEET RICOTTA ITALIAN PEACH COOKIES
These show stopper cookies capture the attention of anyone that sees them. They were my favourite treat at the Italian bakery when I was a child. The lemony cookie filled with zesty orange ricotta beg for sun and summer guests. Mixing up the cookies is effortless, though you’ll need to pick up a small craft brush for the finishing touches.
Yield: 25 cookies.
RICOTTA FILLING INGREDIENTS:
500g(2 cups + 2 tablespoon) ricotta cheese
110g(1/2 cup) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1tablespoon orange zest
COOKIE DOUGH INGREDIENTS:
540g(3½ cups) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
155g(1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons ) Granulated Sugar
3 large eggs
120ml (1/2 cup) milk
115g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
COOKIE ASSEMBLY INGREDIENTS:
Granulated Sugarfor coating the cookies
red food coloring (gel or liquid)
small to medium mint leaves
INSTRUCTIONS: In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta with sugar until smooth and creamy.
Add orange zest and vanilla and stir until incorporated.
Chill the mixture, covered with plastic wrap, while you make the cookies.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in the center and lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth.
When the butter is cool, whisk in the milk, eggs and sugar and lemon zest until smooth.
MAKING THE COOKIE DOUGH: With the dough whisk, stir the wet ingredients into dry and mix until well incorporated.
Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. The dough should become very smooth, pliable and be very easy to handle. If it is too sticky after it has rested, then add another tablespoon or two of flour until it comes together nicely.
FORMING THE COOKIES: It is best to weigh your cookies at this point to ensure they are all equally sized. This will make your final assembly easier and the presentation more beautiful. For this post, I weighed each cookie to 19-20 grams. To create smaller, bite sized cookies weigh each cookie to 9-10 grams.
When rolling the dough make certain that it is very smooth and well emulsified.
The cookie dough doesn’t melt together in the oven, so if you don’t take care at this point, the cookies will be misshapen.
Place them them on the prepared baking sheets about an inch apart, as they will rise but won’t spread. Press down each ball slightly, so it flattens a bit and will give you a nice large bottom edge for cutting holes for the filling.
BAKE THE COOKIES: Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown (the tops should remain pale). Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
While the cookies are still warm, scoop from the bottom a large enough hole to hold some of the filling. Cup the cookie firmly in the palm of your hand to prevent cracking the cookie. Set aside let cool completely.
ASSEMBLING THE COOKIES: Fill each cookie hole with enough ricotta filling to cover it (about a teaspoon). Press the two flat sides of each half together and gently wipe away any filling that comes out at the edge. Before the final decoration, refrigerate them until the ricotta filling is set and firm. They will be easier to handle in the final stages of decoration.
APPLYING THE FOOD COLOUR WASH TO THE COOKIES:
Depending on the red food colouring you are using, dilute it so that it is resembles a coloured water. If you’re using a red gel, simply dip your dry brush into the container and “clean” your brush in a couple tablespoons of water or rum. Test the density of wash on one of your peaches and adjust it to be either darker or lighter according to your taste.
Brush each peach with the food coloring wash, and gently toss the peach in white sugar. Then place it on a tray.
Chill cookies, covered with plastic wrap, for a few hours before serving. This will firm the ricotta and distribute the moisture throughout the cookie. Bring them to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Decorate the cookies with small mint leaves before serving, to mimic peach leaves.
STORING THE COOKIES hese cookies keep for about 4 days, but are best on days one and two. As they sit, the filling will become drier and drier, because the cookies will absorb the moisture. mitzyathome.com says that this recipe is adapted from a family recipe and from Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily by Rosetta Constantino.
SPECIAL COOKIE EQUIPMENT: Dough whisk, #40 scoop, digital scale, melon baller, craft brushes, red gel food coloring, baking sheet