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Orange Ricotta Pillows

Last night at the restaurant was a tough one. Don't get me wrong--it wasn't like something out of an Anthony Bourdain memoir. I didn't cut my finger off and then sew it back on without anesthesia. But sometimes--in fact, often--it's the little things that can make an evening particularly dreadful. In this case it was a garnish for a dessert--a pecan florentine--that nearly made me lose my cool.

After having a dozen or so of these cookies fall apart in my hands while on the line trying to plate a dessert, I'd just about had enough. That's code for "I almost ran out the door and screamed." I'm generally pretty relaxed. "Cool as a cucumber" describes my life philosophy. But that doesn't make me immune to the little absurdities that can derail a good mood. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, getting upset over cookies breaking seems ridiculous. There's a reason someone coined the phrase, "That's the way the cookie crumbles." Cookies crumble.

But therein lies the nature of working at a restaurant--that moment, the moment when the cookies are just disintegrating in your hands, almost seems to be a metaphor for your life. It is your life at that moment. Things are falling apart, and the harder you try to keep them together, the more they fall apart. As I said before, it's the little things.

But today is a new day for troubleshooting and improvement, and in the case of this blog, good, sturdy cookies. These cookies are cakey nuggets of orange goodness. They're soft and chewy and nicely subtle. They're also perfect for cookie swaps or gifting, as the recipe makes a ton, and they're solid enough to withstand being knocked around. I love the addition of almond extract here, but you can also just use vanilla if almond is too strong for your tastes.

Other articles you might enjoy: Pecan or Angel Slices, Chunky Almond Macaroons, Chocolate Cardamom Bars

Orange Ricotta Pillows
Makes about 50 to 75 cookies depending on how large or small you make them

This recipe is adapted from Cook Republic

Beat together in a large bowl:
           1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
            3/4 cup sugar
            Zest of 1 orange
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            (1/2 teaspoon almond extract)
Beat in one at a time:
           2 eggs
Beat in:
           Generous 2/3 cup whole milk ricotta
            1 tablespoon orange juice
Add and stir until the dough comes together:
           2 cups flour
            2 teaspoons baking powder
            1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
            1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll the dough into roughly 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls (this doesn't need to be exact--a little smaller or larger is fine) and place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are set but still soft, about 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool and sprinkle with:
            Powdered sugar
while still warm.



Betty L. Jacobs's picture

I made your classic oatmeal cookies. My husband is in love with them. (We are cutting out carbs so left out raisins.)
Kristen Keyes's picture

Do orange ricotta pillows freeze well?
meg's picture

I confess I didn't try freezing any of these, but I imagine they would freeze well. I would thaw them on a plate or a rack or something and give them a fresh sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving.
Mira's picture

Do orange ricotta cookies spread when cooked? Have you tried them with a thin, orange frosting?
john's picture

Hello Mira! They did not spread very much at all. We have not tried applying a frosting to them, but that sounds delicious!
Mira's picture

I make lemon ricotta cookies with a thin frosting that takes 1-2 hrs. to set ... a royal pain ... but the tart cookie with sweet frosting is yummy. Try making the orange with a touch of clear frosting (not spread over the entire top of the cookie) and a few sprinkles. Stay away from colored sugars - they melt and bleed into the frosting.

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