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Baked Lemon Ricotta Donuts Recipe

Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself focused on something online, only to get completely sidetracked by some unrelated search result.

My hands are waaay up in the air. When you drop your Las Vegas getaway research to spontaneously bake, all because you saw Lemon Ricotta Filled Donuts featured on Las Vegas restaurant menu, you have to raise both hands.

Easily distracted, I may not be visiting chef Mario Batali's Las Vegas restaurant, Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, anytime soon. I can at least enjoy his Lemon Ricotta Donuts though!

The best thing about this copycat recipe is that my Lemon Ricotta Filled Donuts are baked, not fried, so you won't end up looking like the chef.

Okay, *technically* these are muffins. Think of them as the most donut-like muffins around. Feel free to deep fry the batter instead of baking it. As for us, Sexy Nerd and I have been hitting up Happy Hour a bit too often for that. I choose fried artichoke hearts, fried duck eggrolls, fried gouda tots, and fried buffalo chicken tenders over donuts, at least today. All my favorite Happy Hour examples sound fattening, but they're served at 1/2 price, so they don't really count.

The craft beer might count a little.

Now, let's cook!

Baked Lemon Ricotta Donuts
Makes 21
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/8C olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/8C applesauce
  • 1/3C vanilla sugar (easy to make and perfect for baking - just blend 4 cups of sugar with 1 whole vanilla pod in your food processor or high-power blender, like a Vitamix)
  • 1/3C brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1C milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 1/3C all purpose flour
  • 1/3C wheat germ
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon sugar 
  • 1/4C lemon curd (which you can quickly and easily make yourself)
  • 1/4C ricotta
Preheat oven to 425F. Grease your largest muffin/cupcake/popover pan (I baked 1/2 the recipe in a popover pan and the other 1/2 in a muffin pan. Both tasted the same, but the donuts baked in the popover pan looked nicer).

Mix the first 7 ingredients (butter, oil, applesauce, sugars, eggs, and milk).

Homemade vanilla sugar - a baker's best friend!

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, wheat germ, baking powder and soda, and salt).


Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The batter should be thick. Do not overmix.

Fill each muffin/popover cup about 1/2 full. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 8 minutes.

While waiting, fold your lemon curd into your ricotta.

Next, remove your partially cooked (8 minutes in) donuts and poke a hole in the top of each with a butter knife. Spoon your lemon ricotta mixture into each hole, leaving a generous dollop on top of each donut. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Ta da!

These are best served warm (not hot - I have the scalded tongue to prove it!)

Now, to resume my Las Vegas vacation planning. I'll have to include a stop at Carnevino to see how my Lemon Ricotta Donuts compare to the real thing.