In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar with the orange zest, using your fingers to rub the zest in. Set aside and allow the orange to infuse the sugar for about 15 minutes. You can also do this the day before to really let the flavor soak in.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the stand mixer, beat the infused sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta until it's thoroughly mixed, then add the eggs and orange juice, mixing until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir by hand just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy), but don't over mix or the muffins will become tough. Gently fold in the cranberries.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle a little sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.