ricotta muffins

These muffins are a labor of love, which is what I think you are supposed to call things that take a bit more work than you’d originally anticipated. I’m not sure if this muffin is to blame, however. You see, we’ve come to expect that muffins, or so-called “quick breads” are indeed speedy to put together so when one takes the smallest amount more time, it may feel like a chore. Especially if you do not do handsprings of joy over the results, which I confess I did not do immediately.

toasted fennel seedsdry ingredients, oil, yogurtbatter, ricotta fillingchopping toasted pecans

But today. Today I woke up and had one of these muffins and while I might be too sleepy, curmudgeonly and also feeling a zillion years too old to literally get my heels over head, I most certainly was on the inside because these are unexpectedly delicious. There’s so much going on, toasted ground fennel seeds scenting a hearty muffin base, a creamy ricotta and tangy sour cream (or crème fraîche, if you’re fancy) center and a hefty lid sprinkled with pecans that have been toasted nearly to the point of caramelization. The muffin itself has the kind of curiously crisp-edged crumb you get when you bake without eggs and while not savory, it’s not sweet either, a relief for people who find the first stroke of the morning to be a bit too early for the day’s first dessert.

ready to bakebaked, overflowed

So about that extra labor — which can be broken down as toasting and grinding fennel seeds, toasting and chopping nuts and assembling the muffins in layers so to segment off the creamy center — I’m reading back and it doesn’t really sound like such an ordeal, does it? Perhaps this isn’t a muffin you throw together in the 5 minutes Mr. Corduroy entertains himself in his swing, but when you have 20 to spare, let it be a relief to know that you will be duly rewarded for your extra toasts and grinds. Isn’t that all that matters?

ricotta muffins

One year ago: Sugar Puffs and Smashed Chickpea Salad
Two years ago: Fried Chicken
Three years ago: Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

Ricotta Muffins
Adapted just barely from Pastries from La Brea Bakery, a gift from a very nice lady

The book says it yields 12 standard-size muffins, but I could have gotten 14 (if I hadn’t insisted upon overfilling and then overflowing the tins)

1/2 cup (2 ounces) walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 cups (380 grams) unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups (345 grams) plain yogurt
3/4 cup (150 grams) vegetable oil (though I imagine that olive oil would be a delicious swap whoops, many commenters who tried it said that the olive oil was way too heavy; listen to them, not me!)
1/2 cup (125 grams) ricotta cheese
6 tablespoons (90 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
Kosher salt, to taste

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 1/2-cup capacity muffin tin.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned (though I like my pecans a darker brown, for better flavor), about 8 to 10 minutes. Shake the pan halfway through to ensure that the nuts toast evenly. Cool, chop finely and set aside.

Turn the oven up to 350°F.

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds, stirring occasionally until they become aromatic and turn slightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Allow to cool and finely chop, crush or grind in a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together to combine. Sprinkle in the fennel seeds. Make a large well in the center and pour in the yogurt and oil. Whisk together the liquids and gradually draw in the the dry ingredients, mixing until incorperated.

To prepare the filling: Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and, if stiff, break it up wtih a rubber spatula to loosen. Stire in the crème fraîche and a pinch of salt.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip, a plastic bag with the corner snipped off or a spoon, fill each muffin tin one-third of the way with batter. Place one tablespoon of the filling into the center of each muffin.

(I suspect at this point that Silverton believes that your filling will be thick, and perhaps with a stiff ricotta and crème fraîche, it might have been, but my mixture, with store brand ricotta and sour cream, was more of a puddle that spilled out into a flat layer. While it didn’t matter in the end, it did make it harder to put the remaining muffin batter — which was stiffer than the filling — over the ricotta mixture with just a spoon and I ended up having to go the plastic bag/piping bag route to easily cover it. Grumble-gripe.)

Pipe or spoon the remaining batter into the cups, filling them to just below the rim. (Unlike you see in my pictures, as I overfilled the tins.) Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the nuts over the top of each. (I had extra.)

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly brown and firm to the touch.

Do ahead: I’m going to put a big question mark in this space until smarter people than me weigh in on whether a ricotta-filled muffin can be stored at room temperature. (We left them out and lived to tell you about them, but perhaps this was still a no-no?) Muffins always freeze well, however if you’re looking to a get a head start.

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155 comments on ricotta muffins

  1. The addition of fennel seeds sounds so interesting. It reminds me of a sponge cake recipe I found recently in an old forgotten greek cooking magazine that had graviera(a greek cheese), fennel seeds and apricots. I know it sounds strange. But I think I’m going to try that recipe, plus yours!


    P.S. No1 Am I the first to comment on this post?

    P.S. No2 I think your blog is fantastic!!!

  2. Ooh, these look lovely. I really like the idea of the ground fennel seeds. I agree that sometimes a sweet muffin can be a bit OTT in the morning. This nice bit of in between sounds perfect.

  3. Bri

    I’m excited to try something that isn’t dripping with sugar for breakfast. This definitely sounds interesting.

    You should be proud of yourself for bringing the world’s cutest baby into the world!

  4. I am with you quick breads should be quick. The ingredients in the muffins are quite interesting. I would never have tried the fennel. They do look wonderful and the middle reminds me of a cheese danish. The black beans were fantastic by the way. Followed your recipe to a T!

  5. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t admit this because I keep a baking blog, but my sweet tooth has seemed to completely disappear for the moment and I’ve been going crazy for savory baked goods, or at least ones that aren’t too dessert-y. These look fabulous.

    And Fennel! Seeds! My favorite.

  6. SP

    Last night I bought a whole tin of ricotta, thinking to myself that I’d succumb and just make plain ol’ cherry ricotta muffins. This morning, I woke up and saw this. You read my mind, Deb! Can’t wait to try the recipe. Indian American that I am–and the Indian cooking I do, using fennel pretty much everyday–I’d have never thought of putting it in a muffin, much less a ricotta muffin. Great idea! Can’t wait to try and, will report back!

  7. For some reasons, I associate Pecans with sweetness… so I was happy to read that you could use walnuts (or maybe hazelnuts) instead…
    What about you prepare small marbles of your creme fraiche-ricotta mix and refrigerate them while you prepare the rest of the muffins. By the time you are ready to stuff your muffins, the marbles are hard enough that it requires no effort. I just did that with Nutella cupcakes. Worked well!

  8. I’ve eschewed muffins for quite some time, but I like that these are neither sweet, nor involve poppy seeds. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Time to put ricotta and fennel seed on my shopping list!

  9. I love little surprises, like the fennel seeds. Except you have to prepare yourself for a zillion questions, namely, what am I tasting in these, it is so interesting?! Love it! And lately I have been using light olive oil in my muffins/quick breads. A very good swap indeed.

  10. Kailee

    Oh, yum. This is a definite make this weekend. I cannot stand most bakery/store bought muffin mix because they’re all, blech, too sweet. I end up drinking twice as much coffee just to balance out the sweetness. And I’m not too productive on a caffeine AND sugar high.

  11. Deb, I swear to the Gods above, you will be my undoing! i JUST got off the treadmill and came in to find this recipe – heaven help me – they look absolutely fabulous and since i have ricotta in my fridge and fennel in my spice rack . . . LOVE your site and you really do inspire me to up my game! thanks for the great work!

  12. I just had a cannoli and a ricotta pie the other day (no, I did not make them myself – I wish! – bought from an Italian bakery). I’ve never thought of stuffing a muffin with the ricotta cheese, but it sounds much less intimidating than either deep frying cannoli shells or baking a ricotta pie. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Lauren

    My coworker and I think this sounds delicious (much like every other recipe on your blog!) but we really don’t like fennel seeds. Would they be fine if we left the fennel out? Also, any suggestions for a possible substitution?

  14. MMMM….i’m intrigued! did you find the fennel seeds to be overwhelming at all? i love using fennel seeds, but am thinking about leaving them out, as i love ricotta and crème fraîche more.

  15. Sasa

    I have home-made paneer draining as I type so it made me think maybe you could put the ricotta in a sieve to drain some of the whey off so it’s a bit thicker and easier to “insert.”

  16. Susan

    I’ve been smitten with fennel seed in baked goods since I fell in love with your black bread. And..ricotta as a plain filling since I had a pizza with it dolloped on top among the pesto and bit’s of italian olives. Can’t wait to make these!

    J-babe is looking like a happy li’l swinger watching Mama bake!

  17. lovely looking! Now, I am not a fennel fan, but is this going to give it a fennel-ly taste? That may be a dumb question but thought I’d ask before getting to the labor part.

  18. These remind me of an adult version of the “surprise cupcakes” my mother used to make – chocolate cupcakes with a surprise cream cheese and chocolate chip filling. I wish I had that recipe, but this one seems awfully good, and I need some less sweet breakfast options before my kids drown in cinnamon sugar!

    While it sounds like it doesn’t need to be made more labor intensive, I might add that I started making homemade ricotta a year or so ago and it totally changed how I feel about this cheese – which was already quite positive. You basically bring a half gallon of milk and a pinch of salt just barely to a boil (trust me, use a BIG pot), stir in 3T lemon juice, simmer for 1-2 minutes (until curds form), then strain through cheesecloth, and done!

    The flavor is very neutral and creamy but, sadly, it doesn’t keep very long. I typically use it to stuff homemade ravioli, which actually uses very little, so this seems like a great way to use the leftovers!

  19. JENI

    oh boy! do you think it will be okay to use half oil and half apple sauce for this? i’m thinking of making this + a birthday cake for this weekend… that’s why..

  20. I’ve been meaning to make ricotta muffins for ages–these are so appealing. I never mind a little roasting/toasting/etc if it’s worth it.

    And I always overfill my muffin tins too.

  21. cj

    I just discovered your blog and it is so brilliant! I am having great fun devouring it from the beginning, like a greedy child in a bakery. You are a fantastic cook and writer and that baby! So cute.

  22. I have ricotta sitting in my fridge right now and I had no idea what to do with it, so this comes at a perfect time!

    Also, that picture of your son is adorable. It is one of the best yet. His smile is too cute!

  23. claudia

    I love your recipes – have tried many with happy results, but I have a confession to make. I now “continue after the jump,” even when I’m not interested in the recipe JUST to see the latest picture of Jacob! THANKS, and keep them coming.

  24. jenny

    I just discovered your blog and yes, I am totally smitten!! I am only allowing myself one portion of your archives at a time so as to truly savor the recipes. :) but before these muffins become archival, one question: do you know how much fennel you ended up with after you ground the seeds? I don’t have a spice grinder and am hoping to substitute the pre-ground stuff (toasted of course) but am not sure about measurements. thanks … and I can’t wait to read more!!!

  25. I saw this recipe tonight and just finished baking them. I love the fennel–adds a wonderful dimension to the flavor and just a little crunch. I don’t know what I did wrong but some how I got almost 18 muffins from this recipe! My batter was very dry–it might have been that some of the yogurt I used was “greek” and thus drier than the standard. They seem plenty moist though, so I guess that just means I have more for the freezer.

  26. Katie

    To get even better flavor out of the nuts (I do this for pecan pie) is to brush them first with oil or butter before roasting. It makes them a bit easier to chew as well.

  27. This is good timing since I spent last Friday night going to three stores in search of a decent ricotta to make a ricotta cheesecake. Baking Illustrated said to drain the ricotta overnight, yet the crappy store-bought kind I got had so much stabilizer, no liquid came out after sitting overnight! The cake still turned out pretty good, but next time I might go to an Italian market and buy some quality ricotta. What brand did you use? Was it whole or part skim? (Oh, I see your recipe only calls for 4 oz, but my cake had 32 oz! Store-bought is probably not such a big deal for 4 oz.)

  28. Louise

    So glad that not everyone wants sweet in the mornings, can’t even put sugar in coffee in the mornings. Can’t bear the fennel/aniseed taste though, so would make then plainer or maybe sub cinnamon. Love that you give the precise size of the muffin pans!

  29. Those muffins look great. I found a great deal on a creamy ricotta and got carried away and bought 3#s! I made ricotta cookies last week via Giada, these were very good. I think I’ll pass on the muffins and make polenta cheesecake (with chocolate chips and raisins) this weekend with the remaining ricotta.

  30. Erin in PA

    This recipe looks interesting for sure! You mention that olive oil would be a good sub, but I caution on that only because in some science-y way olive oil is heavier or more oily (?) than vegetable oil. I read about it in that book “What Einstein Old His Cook” and I know from experience (my mother in law tried to make brownies one time with olive oil and has never lived that experience down – they were very moisturizing!) Overall, the recipe looks great! (As does Mr. Corduroy :)

  31. Eggless! Cheesy! Muffin! And I just bought a muffin tin too. I don’t think I can be more excited! (Though I’ll admit I’ll probably skip over the fennel; not a huge fan.)

  32. Tanya

    Love your site! Its my daily pleasure to see what you’ve created too.
    I recently became allergic to gluten and am now Gluten Intollerant. I was wondering if this recipe could be converted from wheat flours to gluten-free flower? Thanks!

  33. thank you for posting this recipe! I just showed my hubby this recipe and he gave it a thumbs up — as in, he will eat them if I make them… i have some homemade ricotta made this past Sunday (using the recipes in Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll — so easy to make and so satisfying to eat your own homemade cheese), sitting in my fridge so this a perfect way to use some up… can’t way to try these :)

  34. These look really lovely. I love ricotta in lots of different things (though my favorite might still be as a topping for pizza), so this is right up my alley.

    Do you have any suggestions as a replacement for fennel seeds? They are not one of the many spices I have sitting in my spice cabinet.

  35. These look so absolutely delicious, I love anything ricotta and if it’s not too sweet it’s everything I’m looking for.
    I made your Grapefruit yogurt cake last night and it is sooo moist and full of flavor.
    Such an easy fun recipe – it’s a keeper.

  36. Just want to compliment you on the way you write your recipes. You give very specific details (ie. your ricotta/sour cream mixture was thin and thus you had to pipe the remaining muffin batter on top) and this is incredibly helpful. This blog is such a gift, thanks!

  37. lesliepie

    Yum! I’m excited to try these! Have you ever had any of Mollie Katzen’s ricotta muffins? (Chocolate, cherry-vanilla, lemon, vanilla, dill, etc.) We’re not super-duper sweet breakfast food people (but we are sweet people), so these are great. Thanks!

  38. Emily

    We’ve been doing a lot of egg less baking these days thanks to my daughter’s allergy. These look fantastic! And you accurately penned what I’ve been trying to describe, no eggs does give baked goods that “curiously crisp-edged crumb” texture that’s good and different all at the same time.

    I’m a longtime fan of your blog. Your recipes are fantastic, your taste divine, your photographs art, and your descriptions honest and refreshing. You have definitely left an indelible impression my culinary life. Thanks!

  39. Wow! These look amazing, but I get the feeling they may not make the best beginner muffin. Any recommendations on recipes better suited to beginner bakers? (Of course if they are muffins filled with creamy deliciousness like these, that would be very, very good news.)

  40. Sarah in FL

    I can’t stop starring at these muffins!!! OMG!! they look so delish!! There’s a pool of drool on my keys.. where did those come from?
    I am just waiting for the opportunity to make them when studying is over.. maybe a good treat for valentines day breakfast… EXCITED!! thank you for all ur wonderful posts!! i love the pictures!.. what camera do you use?

  41. DD

    Deb, does anyone have a reason for not using COCONUT OIL in place of vegetable oil? I have ordered mine for years from Tropical Traditions, and select the oil without a distinctly coconut fragrance and taste, just so that I can fry potatoes and onions, eggs, etc. I also use it to remove my makeup and condition my hair, but that’s another story. My question is: have you ever used it?

    1. deb

      Dirk — They are very barely sweet.

      kit — I am sure walnut oil would be delicious but I haven’t baked with it enough to know that it would be a guaranteed success.

  42. I loved filled muffins! I once made peanut butter muffins with a jam centre for a bake sale (they sold out :), but these ricotta muffins are far more elegant and “grown-up”.


    I would also be weary of leaving them out at room temp, at least after a couple of days (as if they would last that long…)

  43. Wow these little muffins look sooo delicious!! It does look like it does require a little bit more work than most…. but I bet it’s alll worth it! I can’t wait to try these!!

  44. Trish

    Wow! This recipe was the perfect storm for me. In the fridge, I had 1/2 a container of ricotta, a container of (vanilla) yogurt, about 6T left of sour cream, and about 2 oz. of pecans. I kid you not! It was the perfect way to use up a few leftover ingredients. I did not have fennel seeds, so I slipped in a couple teaspoons of maple syrup and went with the olive oil. They are SO delicious! They will be perfect to share with my weekend houseguests. :-)

  45. Anne

    I made these this morning with olive oil, and they were fantastic! I definitely recommend using olive oil — it really went well with the fennel and pecans.

  46. Monica

    These look very, very delicious!
    That’s all the more reason to be careful and not leave them out at room temperature. I got the worst food poisoning of my life after eating a baked cheesecake cupcake that had been left out of the fridge overnight. My roommate ate one and was fine, but I was sick for four days. It’s better to be safe!

    1. Sarah Ann Austin

      I made these with Greek vanilla chobani yogurt. Very yummy! The batter was less of a batter and more of a dough consistency. I suppose it’s because of the different yogurt

  47. Susie

    I made these this morning and they were WONDERFUL. i was a little skeptical about the lack of an egg, but they were very light and delicious. There was so much batter and filling left over, I put it, layered, in a small loaf pan. Now I have the cutest little coffee cake. I am going to drizzle it with some melted apricot preserves.

  48. Julie

    What type of muffin pan do you prefer? I have your standard non-stick (that now sticks) and I want to replace it. Silicone or a better non-stick one? Thanks.

    1. deb

      Julie — I don’t have a preference, only that I (personally) don’t care at all for silicone — too floppy. Get something heavyweight, no need for nonstick if the pans are well-greased (and they’ll last longer, because you won’t have to replace them if the nonstick scratches, chips or wears off) and it will last forever.

  49. I just made these muffins this evening! They turned out amazing, the best muffins I have made so far. They are just as you describe Deb, slightly sweet but not overly, with the tang of the cheese and creme fraiche. I am so impressed, thanks again for a wonderful recipe. The effort was so worth it!

  50. Gorgeous photos, and a kick-ass post, as always!

    I have made many of Nancy Silverton’s recipes from both her pastry book and her bread book (which is my bible for all things sourdough). Some turn out gloriously (like her bran muffins – absolutely the best ever!!) but some I find to be overly complicated for less than stellar results (like the brown butter muffins – great idea, but they just didn’t quite work). I love the idea of the ricotta muffins, too – barely sweetened, kissed with a touch of fennel – but felt they could be vastly improved by using a more standard, moist, sturdy muffin recipe as the base, and using a cheesecakier ricotta filling. Which sounds like a great weekend project, come to think of it.

    But seriously, try those bran muffins. You’ll never go back.

  51. Nadine

    I made those last Sunday and they were delicious! Nothing for the fennel-/anis-hater, but I loved the flavor that the seeds added. I would consider them as sweet though but I know that Germans and Americans have very different views on what is sweet. I usually reduce the amount of sugar by 25 % when I use an American recipe and still have a sweet product. The taste reminded me of a German specialty called “Krüllkuchen” which my grandma used to make. I reduced the amount of baking powder by one teaspoon and would reduce it even more because I don’t like the mouthfeel that it causes. But I will definitely make those again! Best recipe from your collection so far, besides your delicious fennel ice-cream!

  52. Melissa

    I made these substituting 1 tsp cinnamon for the fennel, as I am not a fan, and they were great! The cinnamon flavor was present but not overwhelming. I think the sugar could have been reduced another 25% and the muffins would still taste sweet – I probably will do so next time. I would have liked more cheese filling – my muffins soaked most of it up and just left damp cheesy taste. Next time I make sure the filling constitutes a whole third of the muffin in order to have a creamy center. Also, I didn’t think they were much work at all, but then again I didn’t do the fennel business :)

  53. Ann Marie

    I just made these tonight. They taste great! I left out the fennel because I’m not a fennel/anise/licorice person at all. They were slightly sweet, but not overly so. The only problem I ran into was that my filling was really soupy (I used part-skim ricotta and regular creme fraiche), and it sort of splatted everywhere while the muffins were cooking and rising. My fiance had two muffins (he thought they were great, too), but he never got a nice chunk of filling, only small veins throughout. If I make these again, I’m going to try to firm up the filling ahead of time so it behaves better.

  54. C

    Hi, these looked really tantalizing but were not a success. When I mixed the dough together it did not stick but became tough and crumbly. I had to keep adding more oil. In the end, the batter was not runny enough to pour into the muffin tin, it was more like pastry dough I was molding and smooshing into top-and-bottom part muffin shapes. They tasted ok in the end but I wish they had turned out the way your pictures look. Thank you for the idea, maybe I will try it again some other time.

    1. Dana

      This was my EXACT experience – not a true muffin batter at all – rather very, very very dry and crumbly. The overall product was very dry tasting…..

      1. Dana

        I agree – the flavors all seem like an amazing combo. I bet if I cut the flour back, these would be amazing!!! So unique with the fennel seeds…..

  55. Wow, these were great! I loved the light fennel flavor and the pecans and they were not too sweet for breakfast. I found that the recipe made a ton–I overfilled 14 muffin cups, and probably could have made 16 or 18. I loved the crunch of the edges of the muffins and the crunch of the pecans on top, and both went away when I stored them covered. So next time I won’t cover them for storage or I will eat them faster (or maybe both).

  56. Claudia

    “A keeper”, my husband says! The batter was, indeed, way stiffer than the filling, but I didn’t bother with the pastry bag, just smooshed and dabbed with fingers and it was fine. I confess to a a couple of additions: cardamom (1/2 t.) and orange zest (a large pinch) were just begging me to let them in to the party! So fragrant with the just-crushed fennel and toasty pecans. Yielded 18 good-sized muffins for me.

  57. kit

    i love these muffins.. have made them multiple times now and have learned a few things: you must toast the fennel seeds (tried to skip but the flavor is non-existent when you don’t), olive oil isn’t the best swap- very oily and overpowering, definitely don’t try to put into 12 cups, does a big 16, also mix up the ricotta mix first and put it in the freezer, it helps a little bit to firm it up… also want to try this with some rosemary next, do you think that would work?

  58. Mary-Beth Young

    I just made these muffins, and they were incredible. You definitely need to use the thickest ricotta you can find. Great recipe! Will definitely use many more times.

  59. Anne

    I just took these out of the oven. Oh My Heck! they look and smell good. I tinkered a bit with the recipe. I subbed star anise for fennel, added a little orange zest, and used a combo of almond and walnut oil. I think in the future I’ll reduce the amount of sour cream in the ricotta mixture or maybe use Greek yogurt instead. I think i will also try these muffins with 5spice powder or chai spice. Thank you for the great recipes. You have given my kitchen repetoire a much needed shot in the arm.

  60. Pia

    I recently learned how to make ricotta cheese. It is super easy to make and creates a really firm cheese. I’ve been looking for recipes with ricotta and I can’t wait to try this one. As always, thank you for the great idea.

  61. Hi Deb, this is the only time in those hundreds that one of those recipes of yours didnt work for me. I never even imagined it. Your blog is like the baking bible for me.

    The idea was fantastic, and the moment I read this, I knew I had to make these. And that I did. Twice. And twice it failed.. almost. The top was okay, the filling was fine, I loved the fennel flavour and made that stronger second time, but below it, the dough seemed never to get enough of the heat .. it looked raw and hard, somewhat translucent, and gave a floury taste.. the batter was very tight – almost like a dough – should it be that way? Where am I going wrong? The first time I baked them over an hour, the second time, longer still.. no improvement… yours look yummy.. I have to fix these. Any advice will be appreciated :)

  62. Tracey

    These were fantastic. I was looking for a muffin recipe that used ricotta, because I had left over cheese blintz filling and wanted to use it up. The filling mixture I used was ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla. I also had buttermilk left over from the crepes, so I used that in place of the yogurt. I also cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup since the filling had sugar in it. Thank you for this recipe. I would never have imagined putting fennel in a breakfast muffin, but it was the star of the show.

  63. Cooking-between-classes

    I don’t know if anyone has already said this, but I spied the lovely Ina Garten straining her ricotta through cheese cloth, separating the milk solids and making it look much more like cheese. I’m going to try this when I make these and hopefully that will stiffen the filling! I might also put in some more ricotta if a substantial amount of liquid (and thus volume) is lost.

  64. Rachel A.

    Just made these…they are INCREDIBLE! The flavor of the fennel seeds is a little intense, I might use about half the amount next time. Also, has anyone found the batter to much more like a dough? Mine was so thick, it was quite hard to work into the layers. They turned out great tho! Can’t wait to try again!!

  65. Laura

    Thank you for this recipe! It is my favorite muffin at my favorite local bakery/coffee shop. But said shop only makes once in a while. Now that I’ve tried them (and they are worth the work!) I will be adding to my regular breakfast repitoire.

  66. jennifer

    This is a most intriguing muffin. I agree that the batter is very stiff. I actually added all sorts of moisteners until I reached a consistency I was happy with – more ricotta, vegetable oil, sour cream, an egg… seriously. I was certain they would be a bust but au contraire, they are really, really good. Initially I felt they ‘needed’ something more but more accurately they maybe ‘could use’ something more but are startlingly addictive. I jammed my 18 muffin dough volume into a 12 muffin tin and am enjoying tearing off the edge of the huge tops. Again, my complements to the cook!

  67. L

    I’ve been eyeing this recipe for awhile, and it looks like the perfect way to use up the ricotta I have leftover from making the eggplant calzone in your cookbook. One question though – that is a LOT of oil in the batter. Could I swap out half with applesauce, or should I just use a different recipe for the base of the muffin and add the fennel/ricotta filling/pecans to that?

  68. L

    Thanks! These turned out great – I swapped half the oil for applesauce, half the flour for white whole wheat flour, used half the amount of sugar, and added about a tablespoon of orange zest. I think next time I might increase the amount of ricotta filling – both the boyfriend and myself wanted more. Overall, really, really delicious.

  69. Yoshi

    Wonderful recipe! I am excited to try it. But before I do, I have two questions:

    1. Could I replace granulated sugar with honey? (I was thinking that mixing the yogurt and honey first would allow the honey to spread more evenly and more easily throughout the dough)
    2. If yes, do you have any suggestions for how much honey?

    Thank you!

  70. Ellen N.

    Hi Deb,

    These look delicious. Will you please add weights. Thanks very much for being such a good sport about adding weights to your recipes.

  71. Dana

    This is good (in theory) but WAY too dry! I would cut the flour back by AT LEAST 1/2 cup….. the dough wasn’t wet at all so was VERY hard to put 1/3 of the dough in…..

  72. Jenna B.

    I made these this morning since I was suddenly craving a muffin and had all the ingredients on hand. I love the fennel flavor and how they’re only barely sweet, but I do think the flavor profile is missing something. I think they’d really benefit from the lift of some citrus zest. Maybe lemon or even grapefruit. And although I like the restraint of the sweetness, I think getting some of it from honey insteaf of sugar would be lovely here. Maybe I’ll give these a go again with a couple tweaks.

  73. Lily Homma

    I had such high hopes for these, but, like Jenna, found that the flavor was missing something. Citrus in some form would definitely brighten them up a bit – perhaps a little orange and lemon zest rubbed into the sugar – although it’s not as if the ricotta is so rich that it needs acidity to cut it. I felt the filling was a little too loose and flat flavor-wise, so next time I’d experiment with leaving it out entirely, swapping in a smaller amount of mascarpone, or adding a dollop of fresh ricotta on top before serving to bring out the fattiness and creaminess that is lost somewhat during baking. All that said, I loved the sweetness level and the basic flavor components are genius. It would be fun to use this as a canvas for any number of additions, like pistachios, hazelnuts, lavender, rosemary, or almond extract.

  74. betsywade18

    With leftover ricotta AND sour cream, I found this recipe and was pleased it would be a way to use up these ingredients. However, I didn’t have vegetable oil. After reading through some comments (which are mixed on the use of olive oil!), I decided to take the risk. I’m happy to report the results were a huge success! I don’t always like fennel seed, but the way it scents these muffins is heavenly. And I think the olive oil worked wonders with the fennel and pecans. I left 2 muffins out at room temperature overnight and I think they may have been even better the next day (the rest went in the freezer – I’m hoping the ricotta filling does okay!).

    For those of you also wondering whether or not to try this with olive oil, here’s one more vote for the “pro” position. And Deb, you could *consider* updating this line in the recipe… though it does seem to be a contested topic! The olive oil I used was California Olive Ranch brand, for what it’s worth.

    I will also add that, channeling Samin Nosrat, I added some salt to the batter as well – I’d be curious why this wasn’t in the original recipe. Does yogurt have salt in it?

    For what it’s worth, some commenters didn’t find these flavorful enough, or found these dry — I disagree with both these counts. (Related to the latter, I do use an oven thermometer — perhaps related?)

  75. Elizabeth

    AARgh !! I just made these (COVID Pandemic baking) and the batter seemed weird and more like cookie dough than batter so I just scooped it in to the muffin tins with my fingers. I had a theory that my yogurt activated the baking soda/baking powder and couldn’t figure out why mine was different than yours until I just realized that I used 1 and 1/2 cups of GREEK yogurt instead of regular. Well this may have been a huge waste of time, sugar and flour, but I will know in 25-30 minutes !