Stay tuned: As soon as I get my hands on some elusive cannoli tubes, which seem to only be available online, I will be doing a post on this quintessential Italian dessert from Sicily. In the mean time, check out my upcoming posts on the final Italian region that I have to hit on, Sardegna.
March 10th Update: After breaking down and ordering cannoli tubes online, I found some in an amazing local store in Portland, Maine, allowing me to cancel my online order. This weekend I'll be giving the Cannoli a try, so stay tuned!
March 24th Update:
What can i say about Cannoli? Delicious cream filled pastry shells enchanced with mini chocolate chips and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. The pastry is crunchy and delicate with a complexity of flavor from the coffee grounds, cocoa, and wine that are used in it.
In reality though, the filling is the star, not the pastry. As I said, I put mini chocolate chips in my filling, but I've seen Cannoli with other additives such as pistachios or maraschino cherries. Whatever you put in the cream though, it's essential to take your time and go through some extra steps to ensure the best possible filling. Though most recipes leave these steps out, to get the best cream you really need to start the night before by draining the ricotta cheese in a cheesecloth to get rid of any excess liquid. When I was ready to make my filling I went a step further and ran the ricotta through my food processor to ensure that it would become smooth and creamy. These steps were essential and definitely shouldn't be skipped! It's well worth the effort. This was by far the most delicious dessert I've made for Cucina DiBella!
*Need to start the day before
Adapted from Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni, 1969
For the filling
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips plus extra for dipping
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the dough
1 1/4 cups flour1 1/4 teaspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon espresso grounds
1 pinch salt
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup Marsala wine (or other red or white wine)
1 egg white
Vegetable oil for frying
- Put the ricotta in cheesecloth and let drain over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, gently squeeze the ricotta in the cheesecloth to remove any remaining excess liquid. Put the ricotta in a food processor or through a food mill and process until smooth and creamy. Put the ricotta in a large bowl.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract to the ricotta cheese, and stir well to combine. Add the mini chocolate chips (add more or less than the recipe to your liking).
- In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, espresso, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Using your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients.
- Slowly add the wine, mixing the dough between additions. The amount of wine that you need will vary depending on the kind of flour you use, etc. Add enough wine so that you get a firm dough. Note: I used a red wine that I had on hand, and it did make the dough a maroonish color. Don't worry, though, after frying they still looked and tasted great!
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and no longer sticky. If the dough is too wet or too dry, add flour or more wine respectively.
- Roll the dough out very thinly (using my pasta roller on setting 2 worked perfectly for me). Cut out circles that are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. The top of a drinking glass worked perfectly for me. Wrap each circle around a cannoli tube. Brush some egg white on the seal and press gently to ensure it will not come apart when cooking.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy pot. The oil should be about two inches deep. Fry the cannoli, while on the cannoli tubes, two at a time (any more and you will lower the temperature of the oil) until they are golden and crisp - about 2 to 3 minutes. They may form bubbles on the pastry as well - if so, the oil may be getting too hot.
- Remove the cannoli from the oil and put on a paper towel to drain. Fry the rest of the cannoli. Let the cannoli cool before removing them from the tubes. Once cool, they should slide off easily. If sticking to the tube, try twisting the pastry slightly to loosen.
- Do not fill the cannoli until just before eating. Otherwise, the pastry will become soggy. Using a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off, pipe the filling into the cannoli. If using chocolate chips or something else in your filling, be sure that those items will fit through the tip of your piping bag. Once filled, dip the ends of the cannoli in more mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve!
Ryan's rating of Cannoli - 5. And I'm pretty sure he would bathe in this. He ate half the filling before we even fried the pastry!