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Bring Italy to your kitchen with this simple recipe
Chocolate chips are a classic cannoli garnish.
One of the most popular Italian desserts, as well as one of the most familiar to American diners, is cannoli. The cylindrical treat is eaten year-round in its native country, but is especially important as a holiday confection.
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A traditional cannoli filling is a creamy combination of several readily available ingredients: ricotta, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon oil, and powdered sugar. Given their simplicity, cannoli are easily customized with different garnishes or sauces. Chocolate chips are classic, but cannoli can also be dipped or filled with chocolate, for example.
Ranging from mini to large, cannoli come in a variety of sizes — the choice is yours!
Craving cannoli? Check out our recipe for Sicilian cannoli!
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Italian bakeries have been serving up cannoli forever. The crispy shell and creamy sweet filling are nearly irresistible. Often times, they come with mini chocolate chips or chopped pistachios or dipped in chocolate. No matter what topping you pick, they're a MAJOR treat. (It's why we couldn't stop ourselves from making cannoli cupcakes!)
Why is there wine in cannoli shells?
Cannoli dough is usually made with white wine, which might seem a little odd. It includes wine for the same reason some pie crusts will include vinegar or vodka. The alcohol tenderizes the pastry and helps make it extra flaky. Who knew?
What is cannoli filling?
Cannoli filling is always made with ricotta and usually powdered sugar to sweeten it. Filling will usually include mascarpone and whipped cream for a lighter filling. You'll sometimes find orange zest or nutmeg in there for extra flavor.
How do I thicken cannoli filling?
Getting the consistency of the cannoli filling is important. Start by draining your ricotta. Place ricotta in a fine mesh strainer and set strainer over a larger bowl. Let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably 2. How much liquid drains out will depend on the quality of your ricotta. The higher the quality, the less liquid. Even if just a little strains out, it will help in the long run. If you like your filling to be a little sweeter don't add more powdered sugar directly to the ricotta mixture. The powdered sugar will actually cause the mixture to loosen and it won't hold up very well. Add more powdered sugar to your heavy cream when whipping it to make the filling sweeter!
Another important step is letting the filling chill. We like to make our filling first and let it hang out in the refrigerator until we are ready to serve the cannoli. The longer it's in there the better.
How long does cannoli filling last?
You can make your filling up to 2 days in advance! It's a great way to save some time and get ahead.
How do I make the cannoli shells crispy?
Two important things to make sure your shells are extra crispy: Make sure your butter is extra cold when making the dough and make sure your frying oil is heated to 360°.
Cold butter will help give your shells layers ensuring the shells are crispy and flaky! After making your dough let it chill until that butter is nice and cold again before rolling them out, at least 1 hour, but longer is better.
Having your oil at the right temp, in this case 360°, is crucial. If your oil is lower than that, the shells will take much longer to fry which will cause them to soak in more oil and making the shells softer and less crisp. Too hot and you risk burning the outside of the shells. Hitting that sweet spot will ensure crispy, flaky shells!
How do I keep cannoli from getting soggy?
Like most fried things, cannoli are best freshly made. Unfilled shells will last in an airtight container for 1 day, but wait to fill them until ready to serve. Filled cannoli will start to get soggy after about an hour. It makes for a fun "do it yourself" station at a party. Give your guests the filling and plenty of toppings to dip the cannolis in and let them make their own right as they are ready to eat!
Can I air fry cannoli?
YES! If you aren't a fan of frying, the air fryer is a solid option! They crisp up beautifully without any excess oil.
You will need 10-12 cannoli tubes, and ideally a pasta rolling machine.
Prep 30 min
Chill 6 hrs
Cook 10 min
Makes 10 – 12
500g 00 flour
50g caster sugar
150ml red wine (ideally syrah)
1 orange, zested
1 pinch cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
Sunflower or peanut oil, for frying
For the filling
125g icing sugar
Candied orange peel, for decorating
Pistachios, finely chopped, for decorating
Put the flour, butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer and turn it on. As the mixer runs, add the wine, rum, zest and cinnamon, then let it continue mixing for 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for six hours.
Using a pasta machine on the second-to-thinnest setting, roll the dough through and lay it on a floured board. Using a five-inch (about 12cm) cutter, cut it into rounds, then wrap each one around a cannoli tube. Seal with a dab of beaten egg.
Bring a pan of sunflower or peanut oil to 180C. Lower the tubes into the oil a few at a time and nudge them around until they’re golden and erupt into bubbles – 60-90 seconds. Lift them out and blot on kitchen paper. Once cool, slide the cannoli off the tubes.
Mix the sieved ricotta and icing sugar, then scrape into a piping bag. When it is time to eat, pipe the filling into the tubes, then dip each end in the chopped pistachios and decorate with a curl of candied orange.
Basic Cannoli Recipe
In the classic scene from 1972’s The Godfather, Clemenza says, “Leave the gun…take the cannoli.” Cinema lore has it that the line was improv’d, which, in my estimation, makes it even more genius. Improv can make magic in the kitchen too. Use this basic cannoli recipe and then take your own artistic license. Originally a Sicilian dessert, cannoli is a fried pastry shell filled with sweetened ricotta or whipped cream. Prebaked cannoli shells save time and can be sourced from most grocery stores. I simply can’t resist advising you to: “Buy the shells…make the cannoli.”
Basic Cannoli Recipe
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Level of Difficulty: Easy
- Serving Size: 18 cannolis
- 1 32-ounze container part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 18-24 cannoli shells, pre-baked
- In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and chocolate chips.
- Turn a resealable plastic storage bag inside out and spoon filling into one end. Carefully turn the bag right side out and snip a small hole in end containing filling.
- To pipe into shells, start from the center of the shell out to one end and repeat on opposite side. Dust with additional confectioners sugar for garnish if desired.
*Set up a Cannoli Bar!
Portion flavored fillings (you can add a 1/2 teaspoon of extracts like orange, chocolate, peppermint. to the above filling)into plastic baggies and arrange alongside unfilled shells with a variety of toppings. Let your guests make their own masterpieces.
Divide basic cannoli filling (minus the mini chocolate chips) equally into three small bowls. Create orange, almond and chocolate flavored fillings by adding one of the following to each:
Suggested toppings: chopped pistachios, almond slivers, chocolate shavings, flaked coconut.
Ice-Cream Cone Cannoli
Ever heard the phrase &ldquofake it till you make it?&rdquo Aside from being some of the wisest words ever spoken, it 100 percent applies to cooking. Take this recipe for cannoli. We keep the filling traditional&mdashjust like you'd get at any Italian bakery&mdashbut don&rsquot futz around trying to make fancy shells for the filling.
We prefer a shortcut involving ice-cream cones, which means you can have dessert ready in about 30 minutes and you don&rsquot have to turn on the oven to get there. In the words of Ina Garten, how fabulous is that?
2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest
¼ cup chopped dark chocolate
1. Using a serrated knife, cut about 1½ inches off the end of each cone, removing the pointy ends. (Save these for crumbling on top of ice cream.)
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta with the sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest to combine. Add the chocolate and mix to combine.
3. Transfer the ricotta mixture to a 1-gallon Ziploc plastic bag. Cut ¼ inch off one of the bottom corners of the bag.
4. Working with one cone at a time, pipe the filling into each cone, stopping when it just reaches the edge.
5. Dip both ends of the cannoli into the pistachios. Serve within 45 minutes of filling.
It is always an exciting day when a good friend releases a new cookbook! Lindsay from Life Love and Sugar recently released her first cookbook, Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes. Lindsay’s cookbook is everything I expected and more. Not only does the book include beautiful cakes and cupcakes, but it also includes step by step tutorials, tips and techniques for making bakery quality cakes at home. With everything from Red Wine Chocolate Cake to these Cannoli Cupcakes, you will want to make a new cake or cupcake every week!
While all of the recipes in the book are made to impress, I decided to make these Cannoli Cupcakes to share with you. I love a homemade cannoli but I think that they are even better in cupcake form. You can’t beat the creamy mascarpone frosting piped on top of flavorful cinnamon cake.
The cupcakes come together relatively easily. After the cinnamon cake layer is baked in the oven, a few ingredients combines to create the creamy frosting. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and extra confectioners’ sugar to create the cannoli flavor. Made with the freshest ingredients, homemade cannoli cupcakes taste better than anything you can buy at the store. Serve these cupcakes for birthdays, holidays, and dinner parties. Or just make a batch to enjoy for dessert.
Don’t wait, purchase Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes and impress your friends and family with these beautiful cakes. Best of all, the book also includes fifty pages of tips and tutorials for creating smooth icing, piping cupcake frosting and more!
Cannolo is a diminutive of canna, 'cane' or 'tube'. 
In Italian, cannoli is grammatically plural the corresponding singular is cannolo ( [kanˈnɔːlo] , Sicilian: cannolu), meaning "little tube". In English, cannoli is usually used as a singular, and cannolo is rare. 
Some food historians place the origins of cannoli in 827-1091 AD in Caltanissetta, the City of Women, by the concubines of princes looking to capture the prince's attention. 
Author Gaetano Basile merged this legend with other historical traditions to determine  that cannoli come from the Palermo and Messina  areas and were historically prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol.  The dessert eventually became a year-round staple in Sicily.
Some similar desserts in Middle Eastern tradition include Zainab's fingers, which are filled with nuts,  and qanawāt, deep fried dough tubes filled with various sweets, which were a popular pastry across the ancient Islamic world. The dish and the name may originate from the Muslim Emirate of Sicily.  The Minne Di Sant'Agata or Minni di Virgini, cheese filled half spheres with icing and fruit are shaped like a breast in honour of St Agatha. Feddi ru Cancillieri is a similar cream and apricot jam filled almond cookie designed to look like the rear of a leader. 
Most factory-made ricotta, like the Polly-O brand, is produced from cows’ milk and has a fine-grained curd its mild flavor and consistent texture, achieved by the addition of stabilizers like gums, makes it a good choice for lasagne and other cooked dishes. Get the recipe for Classic Lasagna »
Ricotta impastata, or pastry ricotta, is whipped to create an ethereal texture and is sometimes sweetened professional pastry chefs use it to make fluffy fillings for cannoli and sfogliatelle, a traditional Italian layered pastry. Get the recipe for Sicilian Cannoli »
San Giuseppe’s Day, When Sicilian Eyes Are Smiling
The Catholic calendar is chock-a-block with saints' days, though some are observed with more gusto than others. A few become crossover holidays (pun not intended) celebrated even by people who don't know their "Hail Mary" from their "Our Father." For instance, yesterday, March 17, was St. Gertrude's Day, and people really whooped it up for the patron saint of cats. All those people wearing green must have been celebrating her association with gardening, right?
Tomorrow is another big saint's day, this time for San Giuseppe, a.k.a. St. Joseph—as in "Jesus, Mary and. " Although it's also celebrated elsewhere, the day has special significance for Sicilians, who attribute help from St. Joseph for saving them from a serious drought in the Middle Ages. People set up "St. Joseph's tables," altars laden with special foods, flowers and devotional objects to give thanks for the help the saint gave during the drought and for individual prayers the celebrants believe he has answered, such as bringing a loved one home from war. Because the day falls during Lent, the dishes are all meatless (at least by the Catholic definition, which doesn't count fish as meat). They vary from place to place, but often include fava beans, which were one of the few crops that flourished during the drought, breadcrumbs to represent sawdust (Joseph taught Jesus the carpenter's trade), and various breads and pastas.
In Italy Online gives an account of one Italian-American family's celebration. Individuals are chosen to portray Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and they are the first to have a taste of each of the dishes. Afterward guests are also invited to eat. In this case the foods are all what might have been served in the village of the host's ancestors, including vegetable dishes like fennel, stuffed eggplant and artichokes, fruits and cannoli and other pastries.
In New Orleans, possibly the parade float capital of the world (though New York is a strong contender), a St. Joseph's Day parade follows right on the heels of the Mardi Gras season and the St. Gert—I mean, St. Patrick's—Day parade. In San Juan Capistrano, home of one of my favorites of the California missions (although I wrote my 4th grade report on Mission San Gabriel), St. Joseph's Day is when the swallows return from their winter migration.
If there's one food St. Joseph's Day deserves to be as famous as its Irish counterpart for, it's zeppole, sometimes spelled zeppoli or called sfinge di San Giuseppe. These small doughnuts are usually dusted with sugar and can be filled with jelly, custard or ricotta cream like the kind in cannoli. If you're lucky you have an Italian bakery in your area that makes them, or you can attempt them yourself—Giada De Laurentiis gives a recipe for a simple, unstuffed version like the kind I've eaten at Italian street fairs in New York City. Personally, I'd take zeppole over corned beef and cabbage any day.
Love Italian food?
Check out these fascinating Italy food facts, discover an Italian food festival and the cuisine of Venice as well as what it’s like to take a cooking class in Florence.
More about visiting Italy on our guide to planning your dream trip to Italy and highlights from travelling in Sicily.
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The creator, writer and photographer behind Untold Morsels, Katy has been travelling and tasting the world since she was a teenager.
Now the proud mum of twins, she hopes they grow up to share her passions of great food, wine and travel. Favourite destination: Italy