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Having just bought new mini-cupcake pans, I decided to make minis instead of your standard sized cupcakes (also helped stretch the recipe further when I brought these in for my sugar-loving office of 45 people :)) The recipe says it yields a dozen standard sized cupcakes. I ended up with 48 minis.
The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of walnut halves to be included into the mix and added atop the cupcake. I wasn’t thrilled with that idea, so I decided to whip up some fresh strawberry syrup. It’s super simple and added a punch of sugar to a surprisingly sugar-light cupcake.
All I did was heat a saucepan on the stove on medium, toss in a handful of chopped strawberries and of course, SUGAR! While the sugar melted in the saucepan, I started smushing the strawberries. Ta da! Simple strawberry syrup.
The cupcakes themselves are surprisingly light and won’t put you into a sugar coma. It’s the tamer version of its heavier, creamier cousin. cough Cheesecake Factory 1,000 calorie slice cough.
Ricotta cheese is lower in fat than cream cheese and it has a great texture.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. margarine, melted (I used butter. If I’m making the effort to bake something from scratch, it had better be from real ingredients!)
2 tbsp. honey
2 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. orange extract
1/2 cup (3 1/2) walnut halves (I omitted this one)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Place 12 baking cups in a muffin pan (or 4 mini muffin pans).
In a food processor, combine the cracker crumbs, margarine (or butter!) and honey. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each cup, pressing firmly into the bottom. Chill until set.
In a large bowl, beat the ricotta with an electric mixer until soft (aka another great excuse to bust out my empire red Kitchenaid mixer!). Then beat in the eggs, confectioners’ sugar and orange extract. Fold in the walnuts (…or not). Spoon the mixture into the cups.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. Chill until ready to serve.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (or keep a stash in your freezer for a few months :))