I'm sure most of you have heard about Paper Chef. Organised by Ilva , this month's Paper Chef is being hosted and judged by Deeba. Every month, 4 random ingredients are chosen and the challenge is to cook up something with that in one week's time.
I have been following this for a while, but sometimes one or more of the ingredients would be something not available where I live. Those months when I could lay my hands on all the 4 ingredients, I would invariably not have the time!
This month's ingredients happen to be chocolate, ginger, ricotta and a fall (autumn) fruit. Chocolate sounded great. Ginger was even better, because it is the season for very tender, new ginger right now. Ricotta was a problem because it is not available here, and with the deadline for PaperChef midnight today, I didn't have the time to make it either. Ricotta is pretty much like paneer (an Indian soft unsalted cheese), so I used that.
Fall/ autumn is something that doesn't visit us in south India, so with Deeba's go ahead, I decided to use a fruit that's available here this month.
I remembered reading about an Italian Ricotta Cookie somewhere and searched around a bit. Finally, I decided to adapt a Giada de Laurentiis recipe for Lemon Ricotta Cookies I found on the Food Network.
Before I go further, I must mention these cookies are very unlike most cookies as we know them. They are really soft because of the paneer/ ricotta and almost cake-like in texture. The baked cookies apparently freeze well (so I'm trying that since I have so many).
These cookies are traditionally glazed with a lemon sugar glaze which would be perfect flavour pairing. I chose to drizzle them with semi-sweet chocolate instead, for obvious reasons.
I also realized that I had run out of eggs (That's for another project some of us food bloggers are doing, so watch this space around the 15th of this month), so decided to make these cookies eggless too. I replaced the 1 egg (which you can use if you prefer) with powdered flax seed.
I replaced the lemon in these cookies with pineapple as this is what I chose to use as my fruit for this month.
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
100gm butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp powdered flax seed + 2 tbsp warm water
200gm (just under 1 cup) crumbled paneer/ ricotta
1 to 1 1/2 tsp fresh finely grated ginger
3 tbsp fresh or packaged pineapple juice
1/2 tsp pineapple extract
melted semi-sweet chocolate to drizzle on cookies
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another cup or small bowl, beta together the flax seed powder and the warm water for a couple of minutes, with a fork, and set aside.
In the large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
Add the flax mixture and beat till incorporated. Add the paneer/ ricotta cheese, grated ginger, pineapple juice, and extract. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them (I don't get parchment paper here). Spoon the dough (about 1 tbsp for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake at 190C for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes, before moving them.
This recipe makes between 30 and 36 cookies.
I found these cookies a bit on the sweeter side so you might want to reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup if you don't have a sweet tooth.
Updated (10th Sept., 2009): I found that refrigeration (not freezing) actually improves the taste and texture of these cookies.
These cookies are off to participate in this month's Paper Chef.