Catching up with Allie Maynard

One of Allie Maynard’s Blueberry Ricotta Muffins are shown.

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a story on Allie Maynard, who had decided to cook her way through Mindy Segal’s “Cookie Love: More Than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary.”

Maynard, who graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in English, had taken on the task while looking for a job – inspired to create a Southwest Michigan version of “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen,” by Julie Powell.

An aspiring food blogger at the time, Powell set a goal of cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s famous cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” As she cooked each recipe, Powell blogged about all the successes and disasters that occurred.

Her blog became a book, and then later a movie starring Meryl Streep, who was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her role as Child.

It was a no-brainer for Maynard to pick Segal’s book because she loved to bake and was a fan of Segal, who also owns a Chicago restaurant, Hot Chocolate.

Since then, Maynard’s father has opened Forte, a coffee shop in south St. Joseph. Maynard and her mom, Barb Maynard, are doing all the baking for the place. The food they make is first rate, so much better than the pre-made stuff chains order from distributors.

One of the items I love is their Blueberry Ricotta Muffins, made from a recipe Allie Maynard created. So, I asked her for the recipe, and she kindly obliged.

Allie Maynard’s Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

Makes about 24 muffins.

8 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups ricotta cheese

4 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 cups white flour

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups blueberries

Sparkling white sugar, for topping

Heat an oven to 325 degrees. Prepare the muffin pan with liners.

Melt the butter and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, combine the ricotta cheese with the eggs, adding the eggs one at a time.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and the butter. Mix well and scrape down the sides.

In a new bowl, not for the mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a whisk.

Add the cleaned blueberries to the flour mixture, gently stirring to combine (but not mashing).

Add the flour-blueberry mixture to the ricotta, and gently combine with a rubber spatula or the paddle of the electric mixer.

Using a 1/2 cup scoop, begin portioning the dough into the liners.

Lightly cover the tops of each muffin with about a 1/4 teaspoon of sparkling sugar before putting them in the oven. Bake until the tops are a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool some before removing them from the pan.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald-Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.