- 2 heaping cups (17.6 oz | 500g) ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup (110g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- zest of 1 organic orange
- 4 cups (540g) all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (155g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) full-fat milk
- 1 stick (1/2 cup | 115g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room T
- small pinch of salt
- zest of 1 organic lemon
- 1 cup granulated sugar, for coating the cookies
- liquid food coloring in red or pink
- rum (optional)
- mint leaves or other leaf decorations (optional)
Make ricotta filling
In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta with sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in orange zest and vanilla. Chill the mixture, covered with plastic wrap, while you make the cookies.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C – see notes for more options)
with a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until combined. Whisk in milk, melted butter, salt and lemon zest until smooth. Fold the dry ingredients into wet in 2-3 additions, until well incorporated. Finish mixing the dough with your hands and press it into a ball. If it’s very sticky add another tablespoon or two of flour until it sticks together, but not more than that. The dough should be smooth and soft.
Let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes (or even a few hours).
Roll the dough into 2 logs, slice each log into
into 44-48 pieces and shape each one into a smooth ball. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, placing them 2.5cm (1 inch) apart, as they will rise during baking. Press down each ball slightly, so the bottom flattens. Bake the first round
for about 10 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown (the tops will remain pale). Rotate the pan halfway through baking. As you take the first tray of cookies out, put the second one in the oven.
While the cookies are still warm,
cut a circle in the bottom of each cookie and scoop out enough of a cookie for it to hold some filling. (Be careful, don’t pierce the cookie too deep or you risk breaking it.)
Set aside. Do the same with the second tray. Next, find a pair for each cookie, you want the halves of the peach to be of similar size.
Fill each cookie hole with enough ricotta filling that it covers it completely (about a teaspoon). Press the two flat sides of each half together, so the filling comes out at the “seam” and swipe away the extra filling. Brush each peach with food coloring (you can add a splash of rum to it), gently roll it in sugar and place on a large plate. Continue with the rest of the cookies.
covered with plastic wrap, for a few hours before serving. This will harden the ricotta and moisten the cookies. Decorate the cookies with small mint leaves before serving, to mimic peach leaves. (These cookies keep for about 4 days and taste best on the first two days. Leave them out at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving.)
ON OVEN TEMPERATURE
While I’ve always baked these at 350°F (175°C) without any issues, I now have a different oven and I need to bake these at a lower temperature to avoid all of the cookies cracking. I now bake them at 320-330F (160-165C). If you’re unsure what to do, bake a test batch first by placing 6 cookie balls on a baking sheet and baking at 350F. If they come out smooth, you’re good to go. But if all come out cracked, try a lower temperature.