Lavender Ricotta Donuts

Happy National Donut (or Doughnut) Day! For almost 80 years now (77 to be exact) the first Friday in June has been declared Nation Donut Day – started by the Salvation Army as a way to honor the volunteers of World War I who served donuts to soldiers. Not that there needs to be a reason to enjoy these incredibly sweet and delicious treats, but, on this day enjoying them may be a little more enticing as some places will give you a free one! In honor of today I decided to convert a Lavender Ricotta fritter recipe I made a few years back in a cooking class into donuts.

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To make the batter I combined ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla paste, sugar, baking powder and flour in the bowl of my stand mixer and used the whisk attachment to mix the ingredients. I then added in dried lavender and continued mixing the batter until it was thick.

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Next I used a piping bag – I just snipped the end of the bag off – and piped the batter into a prepared donut pan; I sprayed it with baking spray.

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I then baked them for about 15 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven. After removing them from the oven I let them cool in the pan before inverting them on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Final outcome… They definitely tasted good – especially after an extra dusting of powdered sugar on top – but I definitely need to work on my donut making skills. I’ll be the first to admit that they are a bit wonky looking! One other thing, they didn’t have the typical dense texture of a donut, more like the moistness of a cruller thanks to the ricotta cheese.

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If you like the flavor of lavender check out these other recipes I’ve made using the herb: Lavender Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream. With both of these recipes I was able to get the flavor of lavender into them by soaking the dried flowers in milk overnight and then straining the milk prior to using it in the recipes.

Lavender Ricotta Donuts

Yield: 10 Donuts

Ingredients:

2 cups ricotta cheese

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*

1/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons dried lavender

Confectioners’ powder, for dusting

*Can also use vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prep donut pan by spraying it with baking spray.

2. Whisk together the ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla bean paste, sugar, baking powder and flour until combined. Add in the dried lavender and continue mixing until the batter is thick.

3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or Ziploc bag and snip off the end and pipe the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until a cake tested comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Once cooled use a sifter to sprinkle the donuts with confectioners’ sugar.

Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s officially the first day of summer (YAY!) After the epic snow fall from the past winter the warmer days ahead are definitely being welcomed with open arms – although, I could do without the humidity that those days also bring. By far my favorite seasons are spring and fall. But, I digress. I think one treat that most of us can agree on that is a summer staple is ice cream – I particularly can eat it in the dead of winter with no problem though. Hence, me wasting no time in churning out a few batches of ice cream back in January soon after getting my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

A week or so ago while I was doing something on my computer, maybe working on a blog post, I came up with the idea of Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream. I have plenty of dried lavender left over after making Lavender Cupcakes back in April, which is sitting in a container on my counter right in my field of vision while I am cooking so it’s no wonder that it has been on my mind. You always see lavender and vanilla combined in all sorts of home items so I figured that melding the two flavors together in ice cream should be a winner – and fortunately I was right!

To create the ice cream I followed a recipe for Simple Vanilla Ice Cream with one simple modification. I soaked three tablespoons of dried lavender in the one cup of milk the recipe called for for about six hours – this is exactly what I did to get the lavender flavor for the cupcakes. Following that I strained the milk using a fine mesh sieve and then continued with the recipe. Combining the milk with sugar, salt, heavy cream and vanilla paste (I substituted this for vanilla extract to get that authentic vanilla bean flavor along with the black specks of ground vanilla beans.) I refrigerated the mixture overnight and I poured the mixture into the ice cream maker and let it do all the work. And about 20 minutes later it was done!

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I wanted the ice cream to have a firmer consistency so I transferred it to this nifty ice cream container that I recently picked up at my local Home Goods and placed it in the freezer for about another hour or so. Of course I did a quick taste test before freezing it and was very happy with the results.

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After sitting in the freezer for a bit I was finally able to enjoy a nice bowl of my Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream!

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Below is the original recipe for Simple Vanilla Ice Cream and the modifications I made to create Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream.

 

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

A pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

2. Turn on the Cuisinart ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer for about 15 minutes before serving.

For Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream:

Soak 3 tablespoons of dried lavender in the milk for 6 to 8 hours in the refrigerator. Following that strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve and continue with the recipe substituting vanilla bean paste for the vanilla extract.

 

Lavender Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

A few weeks ago while I was out and about in Brooklyn, NY I stopped into the Middle Eastern grocery store Sahadi’s and immediately fell in love with the place. My senses were on overload with the abundance of cheeses, pastries, hard to find ingredients and herbs & spices (and that’s just to name a few of the items you can find here.) One of the herbs I couldn’t resist buying was dried lavender.

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A few years ago I took a cooking class where we made Honey-Lavender Fritters and I have always remembered how delicious they were so initially I was thinking of making those, but after some Google searches I settled on cupcakes instead – I can always make the fritters at a later time since I do have plenty of dried lavender left. I settled on a recipe from a fellow blogger – Sweet Society – and got to baking.

To start I soaked 3 tablespoons of dried lavender in whole milk in the refrigerator for eight hours.

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After straining I set it aside and began making the batter for the cupcakes.

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In the bowl of my stand mixer I sifted flour, baking powder and salt together.

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I then added in softened butter and sugar and mixed all the ingredients together until the texture of the mixture was sand-like.

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Next up I added in the lavender infused milk and an egg.

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The batter quickly came together and was ready to be filled into my Spring themed cupcake liners.

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The batter was the perfect amount for twelve cupcakes.

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After baking for 20 minutes in a 325 F preheated oven they were done.

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While the cupcakes cooled I made the frosting. I decided to try something completely new and opted for a Mascarpone Frosting which simply consisted of mascarpone cheese, heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar.

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In one bowl I mixed the heavy cream until stiff peaks formed and in the other bowl I mixed together the mascarpone cheese and confectioners’ sugar until it was smooth.

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Once that was I done folded the whipped cream into the mascarpone and sugar mixture until it was completely incorporated. Following that I piped the frosting onto my cupcakes.

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These cupcakes along with the frosting were a winner… Definitely something to make again!

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Lavender Cupcakes

Makes 10-12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons dried culinary lavender – you’re going to combine the milk and dried lavender in a bowl with a lid and set in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight, to infuse

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter – softened

1 egg – room temperature

Directions:

1) Infuse the milk and dried lavender as stated above in ingredients.

2) Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).

3) Using a strainer, strain the infused lavender milk to remove the dried lavender.

4) In the bowl of your stand mixer (or mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer), sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5) Add in sugar and softened butter to your dry ingredients from step 4. Mix with the paddle attachment on low until all is combined and the texture is sandy (the butter mixed with the dry ingredients should feel crumbly/sand-like).

6) With the stand mixer on low, slowly pour the infused milk into the flour mixture and mix just until the last of the milk is combined. Now add in the egg.

7) Mix for 15 seconds on medium speed, and then scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are combined. Make sure not to over-mix (over-mixing results in a dry cake).

8) Fill the cupcake liners 2/3rd’s full, bake cupcakes at 325 degrees (F) for 20-23 minutes or when a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

9) Remove cupcakes and set on a wire cooling rack until completely cool

Mascarpone Frosting

Yields 2 Cups

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy)

In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.