Introduction: Mascarpone Cannoli With Pistachios

This scrumptious dessert is made with a Mascarpone cheese instead of the traditional Ricotta. It's all a matter of personal preference. My family prefers the smoother texture of the Mascarpone filling.

Note: You cannot make the cannoli ahead of time or the shells will get soggy. Make the filling and shells in advance and fill just before serving.

Step 1: You Will Need Some of These...

You wrap the dough around these little tubes for deep frying.

Step 2: Shells

1 cup flour
1 1/2 T. sugar
1/2 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 cup  Marsala
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 egg white, lightly beaten
Semi-sweet chocolate - for dipping
Chopped pistachios or shaved chocolate for garnishing the ends

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the Marsala and oil and beat on medium speed until a smooth dough.  Knead lightly by hand on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic.  Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces.  Roll out into a thin sheet of dough or use the widest setting of a pasta machine.  Keep remaining pieces covered while working with dough.  Keep passing the dough through the settings until about the thickness of a penny.  Lay out on a floured work surface and cut out rounds with a 3 1/4 inch cutter (a small bowl works just fine).  Gather up scraps and reroll.

Pour oil into a heavy saucepan or large skillet to 3-4 inches.  Heat over medium heat until 380 degrees using a deep-fry thermometer.

Using cannoli tubes, wrap each round of dough around the tube and seal with just a dab of egg white.  Fry until golden, about 1 minute.  Using tongs, remove and place on paper towels to cool (about 5 minutes).  Carefully slide the forms out and let the shells cool completely.

Step 3: Dip the Ends in Dark Chocolate

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler and dip the ends of each shell.   Once dry, store in a sealed container until ready to use.

Step 4: Mascarpone Cream Filling

Note:  Make at least 2 hours ahead and store in the refrigerator.

You can use your favorite flavoring.   Our family favorite is the espresso...exquisite with the dark chocolate!

1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 sugar
1/2 t. vanilla, (or use 1/2 t. Grand Marnier or instant espresso dissolved in water)
1/2 cup milk

Using a large bowl, combine the cold whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla (or coffee) using an electric mixer on high.  Beat until the mixture thickens.

Once thickened, add the milk slowly while mixing on low speed until combined and smooth.
Refrigerate the mixture in a sealed container a few hours before using.  It will keep well refrigerated for up to a week.

Step 5: Ready to Serve...

When you are ready to fill, use a pastry bag or cut the corner of a Ziploc bag (don't use cheap ones, they will split).  Fill each cannoli with some extra filling sticking out of each end.  Sprinkle ends with chopped pistachios or chocolate shavings and enjoy!

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