Ricotta cheese is baked into these Almond Ricotta Cookies, which will help keep the cookies soft and fresh for all of your holiday visitors!
Almond Ricotta Cookies are my interpretation of the classic Italian Christmas cookies which uses lots of butter and lots of eggs. In addition, ground almonds and ricotta are traditionally used quite often in Italian cuisine.
I included this recipe because one of my favourite women in the world – who happens to be Italian – requested that I include an Italian cookie in my 24 Cookies of Christmas. This one is for you, Nadia!
You needn’t be Italian to love this cookie! It is so light and fluffy, the flavour of the almonds really shines through, and the sugar is so subtle. If you’re not a fan of overly sweet things, this cookie is certainly for you. Grab an espresso – let’s break this cookie down!
DO I NEED TO USE BOTH WHITE AND BROWN SUGAR?
When it comes to regular granulated sugar and brown sugar, you should certainly use both of them if a particular recipe calls for it. And there’s good reason to use both too!
White sugar will caramelize when baked, which will help to brown the cookie, help the cookie to spread, and will create a crispness to the bottom of the cookie. In this particular recipe though, the addition of the brown sugar will contradict some of these things.
Brown sugar, which is made with molasses, will help to offset the crispiness, because it helps to keep a cookie soft and moist. Brown sugar will make a firmer dough, which will prevent the cookie from spreading too much, but at the same time will make the cookie soft and chewy.
So, yes, use both! If you use all of one or the other, you won’t end up with an inedible cookie, but it certainly won’t be well balanced like it would have been if you had used both granulated sugar and brown sugar.
WHY BAKE WITH RICOTTA?
I think ricotta cheese is probably one of the most unappreciated cheeses there is here in North America. And, I think the Italians are brilliant for incorporating the ingredient into way more dishes than we do!
Ricotta is light and fluffy, and that’s exactly what it’s going to do in your baking. Cookies, cakes, scones, pancakes, etc., can all use ricotta to give height, lightness, and of course moisture!
When you open a container of ricotta, there may be some liquid floating on top. This does not mean it’s spoiled. Just use a whisk to blend it back into the rest of the cheese.
There are a few substitutions that will work in this recipe. The first is the ricotta. You can easily substitute ricotta with cream cheese. It will change the taste slightly, but not in a bad way. Use whipped cream cheese, not spreadable, and certainly not brick!
An internet search will tell you that you can substitute ground almonds with semolina. I’m here to tell you that you can’t – not for this recipe. The whole point of this recipe is the almond flavour. If you’re allergic or have an aversion to almonds, don’t attempt this recipe. There are approximately 100 more Christmas recipes here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen you can make which do not require ground almonds!
You can substitute the almond extract, again, by doing so, you will change the flavour, but it won’t be the end of the world! I’m sure Nadia will forgive you! Use vanilla extract in equal amounts.
My dearest Nadia, I do hope my version of a classic Italian Christmas cookie pleases you and gains your approval. Almond Ricotta Cookies, after all, are rustic and homey; they’re simple and easy; and most importantly, they’re delicious!
If you’re feeling extra festive, make a double batch and share these with your friends and neighbours. I cannot tell you enough times how much people love to receive homemade Christmas cookies. And it feels so good to do so!
Just as an FYI, you don’t need to make this cookie only at Christmastime. Here’s a great lemon version that’s great all year round. It offers a freshness and brightness that’s perfect for a summertime version of this cookie.
Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas – Volume 1 can be found in its entirety by clicking on the following image. All of the recipes can be found on one page!
Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas – Volume 2 can be found in its entirety by clicking on the following image. All of the recipes can be found on one page!
Every Christmas table needs a cake! Click on the image below to see Lord Byron’s 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas!
Almond Ricotta Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat together the butter and both sugars until they become light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and almond extract; incorporate well.
- Add the ricotta and beat into the mixture.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and 1 cup of the finely ground almonds. Mix on low speed just until combined; do not over mix the batter.
- Use a 1 tablespoon ice-cream or cookie scoop to portion the batter. Roll into balls, place onto the cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie.
- Press the back of a fork down onto each ball. Flatten the ball slightly to roughly 1/2 inch thick.
- Top each cookie with a sprinkling of the remaining ground almonds.
- Bake for 13 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Finally, transfer to wire cooling rack to finish cooling.