Cannoli

After a very busy weekend including a fun Father’s Day (I hope all of the other dads out there had as much fun as we did!), we finally got to sit down last night and celebrate M’s birthday.  M will excitedly tell anyone who will listen that her birthday is on Flag Day.  Obviously, yesterday was not Flag Day and so our celebration is a little belated.  M was with her mom on her birthday but she was all too happy to have another celebration last night.  She gets a third celebration this coming weekend when we’re hosting a sleepover party.  Remember when birthdays were something you looked forward to and wanted to celebrate over a two-week stretch instead of getting it all over with on one day? Confession: I still feel that way about my birthday 😀

As you may know by now, I take requests when I’m making someone a treat to celebrate a birthday.  O requested Yankees baseball chocolate cake, and I delivered.  Last year, M asked for cannoli cupcakes and she wasn’t disappointed.  This year, her request was “Cannoli.  I don’t care if we can’t put candles in it and no one sings to me, I want cannoli.”  I can’t say I blame her.  Cannoli are a treat we indulge in after a trip to Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, which has Libby’s Bakery next door and they make as good a cannoli as I’ve ever tasted from anyone’s kitchen.  Because Libby’s handles all of the work when a cannoli craving strikes, I hadn’t made them in years.  I hadn’t made them in so long that I’m pretty sure I gave away my set of cannoli forms when I moved in with Lane.    Lucky for all of us Lane ordered me a new set from Amazon, so there was no reason why I couldn’t make some homemade cannoli for the occasion.  If you don’t have cannoli forms, I’ve heard that you can use dry manicotti or canneloni pasta to shape the dough and fry it (brush a little oil onto the pasta to keep the dough from sticking).  I have never tried this, but it seems many have done so with good results.

For some reason I was worried that I’d completely forgotten how to make these.  I didn’t have to worry, it’s like riding a bike.  The dough is simple and comes together incredibly easily, rolling it out is a breeze (just be sure to roll it out very thin), and even the hardest part (wrapping the dough on the forms and frying it) isn’t so bad at all.  I can’t stress enough that you’ll want to remove the fried shells from the cannoli forms almost immediately after they’re fried.  It will be very difficult to wrench the form out of the shell once they’ve cooled.  Fan out the edges of the dough so the oil can get in between the dough and the cannoli form and you’ll have a nice crispy shell.  Wait to fill these until you’re just about ready to serve them; leaving the filling in the shell will make the shell a little soggy and no one loves a soggy cannoli.   To finish, I love a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top or some mini chocolate chips mixed into the filling.  I decided to melt some pink chocolate melts and either use it to dip the ends or top the shells before adding sprinkles to give them a birthday touch.  M doesn’t love chocolate, and since these are for her birthday, I was happy to omit the chocolate chips in the filling.  We didn’t miss them at all, and with a mouthful of fresh cannoli, no one at the table was complaining.

cannoli

Classic Cannoli

Ingredients:

for the shells:

  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 C. dry white wine (I used Riesling)

for the filling:

  • 2 C. whole milk ricotta cheese (15 oz. container), well-drained*
  • 3/4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 C. miniature semisweet chocolate chips (optional, I omitted them)

to fry and finish:

  • 1 quart canola oil, for frying
  • Flour, for rolling
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional, I used melting chocolate instead)

Directions:

To make the dough for the shells, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar into a medium bowl.

Using your hands, work the pieces of butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Add the egg yolk and white wine to the mixture and mix together until the dough is smooth.

Spread a piece of plastic wrap onto a work surface and place the dough in the center of the plastic wrap.

Wrap the plastic loosely around the dough, then press the dough to flatten the dough and fill the gaps in the plastic wrap (this will mean less rolling later).

Refrigerate the dough for at least 1/2 hour before proceeding.

To make the filling (can be made ahead of time, but do not fill the cannoli until almost ready to serve if possible), whisk the ricotta until smooth.

Sift the powdered sugar and cinnamon into the ricotta.

In a seperate bowl or the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until it is fairly stiff.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the beaten cream into the ricotta mixture.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips if using.

Refrigerate the filling for 1 hour.

To make and fry the shells, heat the oil to 360 degrees in a deep fryer or in a medium pot with a heavy bottom.

Spread flour lightly over a clean work surface and flour a rolling pin.

Roll the dough out until it is very thin (about 1/8 of an inch thick).

Cut the dough using a glass or cookie cutter with a 3 to 4 inch diameter (I used a drinking glass with a 4 inch diameter mouth), tracing the rounds with a paring knife to ensure the dough is completely cut through.

Continue to cut as many rounds as you can out of the dough, re-roll scraps and repeat until you can’t make any more rounds.  You should have about 24 rounds when this process is complete.

Use the rolling pin to roll the rounds out into a more oval shape.

Wrap each oval of dough around a cannoli form (I have 4 forms and had to do this in batches) and brush on some of the beaten egg to seal the edges.  Press the edges to seal well so that the shells don’t come off of the forms in the hot oil.

Use your fingertips to slightly flare out the edges of the dough while it is on the cannoli form.

Use tongs to submerge the cannoli shell and form in the hot oil and fry until crispy, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the shell and form from the oil and set onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain for about 1 minute.

Hold the end of the cannoli form with the kitchen tongs and use a kitchen towel to carefully grip the cannoli shell and twist it gently to slide it off of the mold.  Set aside to cool completely before filling.

Repeat the frying procedure, monitoring the temperature of the oil, until all of the rounds are fried into cannoli shells.

To fill the cannoli, use a pastry bag without a tip or a resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off to pipe the filling into the shell.  Insert the tip of the bag into the shell and squeeze gently while backing the pastry bag out of the shell.  This will fill the shell from about the middle to one end.  Repeat this procedure from the other end to fill the entire shell.

If desired, dust with powdered sugar.

To decorate these, I melted about 1 C. of Wilton brand pink white chocolate candy melts and either spread chocolate on top of the cannoli or dipped the ends in the melted chocolate before covering with sprinkles.

Makes: about 24 cannoli

Source: adapted from Alexandra Guarnaschelli

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