Cannoli are pretty essential to Italians, especially during the holidays. They're a must-have along with struffoli at Christmas, grain pies at Easter, and cassata cake and profiteroles on New Year's. This recipe, however, is as classic as they come.
My father used to say that my uncle wasn't coordinated because all he did at the bakery was make cannoli cream. It's a big fail for my uncle, but a plus for novice cannoli makers because it's simple!
For a large party, it's best to purchase the shells. They're not hard to find (try your local pastry shop or salumeria) and come in large and mini size.
Click here to see A Sweet Tooth's Dream: 8 Fantastic Dessert Recipes.
*Note: It can be difficult to find ricotta impastata, but it is essential to this recipe. Your best bet is to look for it online.
- 3 pounds ricotta impastata*
- 1 pound sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of cinnamon oil
- 80 cannoli shells
- 1 pound chocolate chips
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
Get Your Cannoli On
There's just something about biting into a Sicilian cannoli — the crunchy shell and sweet, chocolate chip-studded ricotta filling make for one irresistible bite after another. The former carnival-fare-turned-quotidian-treat dates back to the Arab rule of the 10th and 11th centuries, and it’s a fighting medium for temporarily transporting yourself to the island.
Sure, you can run out to your local bakery and pick up (at least) a half dozen — it’s easy, we get it. But you can also make cannoli, at home. It’s less easy, yes, but markedly more rewarding.
Our recipe requires some special equipment: cannoli tubes and a deep-frying thermometer.
Pro tip: The ricotta filling can make the shell soggy and ruin its characteristically crisp texture. We suggest stuffing the cannoli just a few minutes before eating them — as the Sicilians do.
Prepare the dough melting together flour, powdered sugar, powdered cocoa, 1 egg, lard, a pinch of salt, one teaspoon of vinegar and one teaspoon marsala, then put the mixture into the fridge for an hour. The dough needs to be solid and slightly elastic!
Mix the ricotta (you can use an electric mixer!), that must be well downed, with sugar and put it in the fridge, covered with film. After an hour, you can add chocolate chips!
Work the dough to make it thin, then cut it with a round cookie cutter and roll around a tube, to get the classical cannoli’s shape we want.
(If you do not have any round cookie cutter and the cannoli tubes, feel free to grab one from Amazon!)
[amazon_link asins='B076TXWNK7,B07G76BV21,B01BYFEDC0,B07C2M7J52' template='ProductCarousel' store='ricfa-20' marketplace='US' link_id='407a0f79-e016-4e40-91d9-df126e930417']
Warm up the lard into a pot. At the same time use the tubes to create the shells for the cannolo, giving them the classic shape. Once they get golden, take them off and let cool down. Careful! Those tubes get very, very hot!
Remove the waffles from the tubes and fill them with the ricotta, if you want you can use a pastry bag!
Serve them straight after or store them in the fridge.
Now enjoy your Sicilian Cannoli, buon appetito!
Don’t forget to invite your friends home, so you can share this tasty and sweet Sicilian dish!
Sicilian Cannoli Recipe
Yesterday, I prepared the filling for sicilian cannoli, which I bought in the Italian shop in Dublin.
Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are an essential part of Sicilian cuisine. They are also popular in Italian American cuisine and in the United States are known as a general Italian pastry, while they are specifically Sicilian in origin. In Italy they are commonly known as “cannoli siciliani”, Sicilian cannoli
Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta. They range in size from “cannulicchi”, no bigger than a finger, to the fist-sized proportions typically found in south of Palermo, Sicily.
Even experienced Sicilian home cooks will readily admit that making cannoli shells is tricky. The dough is made of flour, lard, Marsala, egg, sugar with the addition of cocoa powder, cinnamon, or orange zest and must be carefully wrapped around a rod, so it keeps its tubular shape during frying. Popular around the world, cannoli are at their crispy best when filled just before consuming to maintain the lovely contrast of creamy center with a crisp outer layer. While the shells are traditionally are fried, many cookbooks and pastry shops offer baked alternatives. There are even commercially available shells sold vacuum-packed. In Sicily, they traditionally used goat or sheep’s milk ricotta, considered the tastiest for cannoli. Around the world nowadays the fillings vary, including cow’s milk ricotta to whipped cream, pastry cream, custard, or mascarpone.
According to Luigi Falanga, owner of Falanga, an award-winning Sicilian pastry company, “The secret to a really great cannoli filling is to let the ricotta and sugar mixture rest in the fridge overnight – preferably 24 hours – which allows the sugar dissolve and combine smoothly with the cheese to create that lush mouth-feel.” Another plus: this technique also allows you to use less sugar. He continues, “You may be tempted to blend the ricotta and sugar with an electric hand beater, but don’t. You’ll risk having watery ricotta and you’ll need to add more sugar to thicken it. It’s important to pass the sweetened ricotta through a sieve with very tight mesh. Generally, a single pass is sufficient, but a second pass can make the ricotta cream finer and even silkier. "
Sagra della Ricotta e del Formaggio Vizzini, is a festival each April in Sicily that celebrates all thing ricotta, most especially cannoli.
How to Make Cannoli—the Classic Sicilian Dessert
The Italian dessert known as cannoli was once made only during Carnival time in Sicily, particularly in the areas of Palermo and Messina. These crisp tubes of golden-brown fried dough filled with a creamy ricotta, candied fruit, and chocolate filling have grown so popular that they are now made throughout the year, throughout Italy, and anywhere in the world where Sicilians have settled. The name, "cannolo," means "little tube." The singular is "cannolo" while the plural is "cannoli" for two or more.
The cannoli in Sicily are challenging to replicate the original recipe calls for smoke-point fresh sheep's-milk ricotta, which can be difficult, if not impossible, to find outside of Sicily. If you can't find a truly high-quality fresh ricotta (look for one that has very few ingredients and without added stabilizers), you can make your own ricotta, and your results will be much better than if you use a store-bought cheese. You will need connolo forms (or something equivalent) to form the shells.
Antonella la Macchia shares her favourite recipe for cannoli, a delicious Sicilian snack made with fried pastry, ricotta and a range of different toppings. Antonella recommends filling the pastry just before serving to stop the cannoli from going soggy.
Along with cassata, cannoli are the most famous Sicilian sweet treat. The name 'cannolo' was taken from the river reeds used to shape the shells in the past. In Sicily, a feast or simple Sunday lunch always ends with a tray of cannoli in the middle of the table.
The classic cannoli filling is ricotta and candied fruits, but today you can find cannoli filled with chocolate, orange, pistachios, cream and a range of other ingredients. This is my favourite cannoli recipe the shells are crunchy, the ricotta cream is simple and not too sweet and the cannoli’s size is small – the perfect treat for the end of the meal or for a festive coffee break.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine wine, vinegar, sugar, shortening, and cocoa powder.
2. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, until ingredients are fully combined.
3. Working in batches, add flour and mix for 10 minutes on slow, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Place dough mixture into a separate bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour - the longer the better.
5. When ready to make the cannoli, remove dough from the fridge and divide in half.
6. In a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot, preheat oil to 350ºF.
7. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to paper thinness, using flour as required to prevent sticking.
8. Cut dough into ovals using the metal cookie cutter and set ovals aside.
9. Recombine and roll out scraps to paper thinness and repeat until all dough has been used up.
10. Wrap ovals around the cannoli forms, allowing the ends to meet.
11. Drop forms into the oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden.
12. With tongs, remove cannoli shells from the oil and, once shells are cool enough to touch, slide shells off the metal forms.
13. Set shells aside to cool for at least 10 minutes while you fry the remaining cannoli shells.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix ricotta cheese on slow speed until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
2. Add sugar and candied fruit. Mix until smooth and incorporated.
3. Add chocolate chips to the bowl, mixing only a few turns to prevent the chocolate chips from breaking.
4. Fill a piping bag with the ricotta filling.
5. Squeeze the filling into each end of the cooled cannoli shells, starting at the middle and working towards the edges.
6. Sprinkle icing sugar over the cannoli and press candied cherries into the end of each cannoli.
How to Make the Cannoli Shells
Follow these simple instructions for how to make cannoli shells:
In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder.
Add in the lard, egg, white wine vinegar, and marsala wine, and knead the dough for 10-14 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to rest.
Remove the dough and place on a clean floured surface and roll it out until it is about a ¼” thick.
Using a 1 ½ circle cutter, cut as many dough rounds as possible in the dough, about 20-25.
Roll out each individual dough round until it’s about 5”-6” in diameter. Repeat until all of the rounds are rolled out.
Form each dough round around a metal cylinder cannoli mold and rub a little bit of whisked egg to help form the two ends together.
Fry in the cannoli cylinders in oil at 350° for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned.
Remove the cooked cannoli shells from the oil, drain on a rack and then carefully remove them from the metal cylinders once they are cooled.
Recipe: 10-Minute Sicilian Cannoli
By: Francesca Montillo, ISDA Food + Travel Writer
Is there anything more delicious than a classic Sicilian cannoli?
Purchasing pre-made shells saves hours of time in the kitchen, and when you don’t have to fry the shells the cleanup is a snap.
There’s no shame in getting a little help in the kitchen once in a while. Let’s call it semi-homemade, shall we? Amazon has several options for different size shells you can also check your local grocery store’s bakery department too, as they will likely have them .
Because the filling is only a few key ingredients, purchase the best whole milk ricotta you can find. Bel Gioioso is my preferred brand when I made them at home.
Cannoli are best filled immediately upon serving, so prepare the cream when you’re done with dinner and ready to serve dessert.
Or you can prepare the cream beforehand, refridgerate it, and just hold off on filling the shells until you’re ready to serve. You can refrigerate them for up to 1 day, but as you probably know, expect the shell to get a bit soggy.