Italian-ish MUFFINS

Muffins with almond flour, orange zest, lemon zest, chocolate chips, topped with pistachios

These muffins might not be anything like what you’d find in Italy…but I had to come up with some sort of cohesive name, and the combination of ingredients are undoubtedly Italian! The chocolate chips, lemon & orange zest, pistachios, olive oil, ricotta, and almond flour is a heavenly marriage of flavours which I think you will enjoy very much.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Cannoli Pound Cake. With my alterations to her recipe, I feared including “cannoli” in this recipe name might be stretching it a little too far. Italians might also furrow their brow at the claim that these are Italian…but I’m sure if they were to taste them, they would forget what they were angry about.

After trying Smitten Kitchen’s pound cake, I knew I had to figure out a way to have a whole lot more of this in my life. Somehow, without being completely riddled with guilt and sugar. The type of thing I could feel okay about eating for breakfast, and/or snacking on throughout the day…know what I mean? Usually, I am very careful about “healthifying” a good thing because this almost invariably means what you are actually doing is bastardizing the original. Now, maybe I am doing just that with this recipe…but let me begin by explaining how it went down when my husband and I were left with half of Smitten Kitchen’s pound cake.

Dan: “Oh my god, what am I eating?”

Me: “Shhh. It doesn’t matter.”

Dan: “I’ll be right back”

And then, the loaf was gone.

No joke. After that night, I could not get the her loaf out of my head. I knew I needed a fix, but it was only breakfast time…a time not for cake. Muffins however, perfectly acceptable! With that said, you really MUST also try Smitten Kitchen’s pound cake because it is something magical…

A recipe that starts out like this is destined for greatness, wouldn’t you say?

Lemon and Orange zest for Italian-ish Muffins.

Also, I’ll add that I don’t know enough about photography to know whether the exposure and focus on the photo is terrible. Well, to my eyes, it looks cool, and that’s all that matters, right? Looking cool?

Now, I understand the lines between cupcake and muffin often become blurred. When I make muffins, I really do try to keep them on the healthy side of things. For me, this usually means keeping the recipe not-too-sweet and using something like honey, maple syrup, fruit, or agave. It also might mean adding seeds and/or nuts. I don’t worry so much about the fat content, especially if I’m using something good, like olive oil. Chocolate chips aside, this recipe no doubt fall under the umbrella of a healthy muffin. With that said, these muffins would not be the same without chocolate, and sometimes I just feel like I need more chocolate in my life. That’s where these muffins come in.

Italian-ish muffins


  • Author: Krista
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 muffins
  • Category: Breads


This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Cannoli Pound Cake recipe which was SO good, I had to figure out a way to turn this very delicious thing into something I could eat in very high volumes!


2 large eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finely grated zest from 1 orange

Finely grated zest from 1 lemon

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 pinches allspice

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped small


Position rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

Prepare muffin tin by lining with olive oil, butter, cooking spray, or paper baking liners. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add olive oil, ricotta, honey, vanilla, orange zest, and lemon zest. Mix until well combined. Set aside. 

Combine white flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a medium or large bowl. Add to the wet ingredients. Gently stir until just combined. Batter should be lumpy. Gently fold in chocolate chips. 

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, then sprinkle the tops with pistachios. 

Bake until a tester inserted into the centre of comes out batter-free, about 20 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and let cool. 


These are best enjoyed the same day they are baked, and will keep for another 2-3 days in an airtight container. 

Keywords: muffins, pistachios, chocolate, lemon, orange, ricotta, olive oil, cake, Italian, breakfast, snacks, quick breads, loafs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *