Orange infused sweet ricotta peach cookies


Ingredients
Ricotta filling
  • 500g (2 cups + 2 TBSPs) ricotta cheese
  • 110g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • zest of 1 medium orange 
Cookies
  • 540g (4 cups) all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 155g (1/2 cup + 3 TBSPs) granulated sugar
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 115g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to warm, room T
  • zest of 1 lemon 
The rest
  • granulated sugar for coating the cookies
  • liquid food coloring in red or pink
  • rum (optional)
  • mint leaves or other leaf decorations (optional)
Directions
  1. 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. 
  2. Cookies
    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350°F) with rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until combined. Whisk in milk, melted butter and lemon zest until smooth. Mix the dry ingredients into wet in 2-3 additions, until well incorporated.
  4. 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. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough into 44-48 small balls (shape them with your hands until smooth) and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Place them about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart, as they will rise during baking. Press down each ball slightly, so the bottom flattens.
  6. Bake the first round for about 15 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.
  7. 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. 
  8. Assemble cookies:
    Fill each cookie hole with enough ricotta filling that it covers it (about a teaspoon). Press the two flat sides of each half together and gently wipe away any filling that comes out at the edge. 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.
  9. Chill 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.
  10. 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.

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