Ah, cannoli. The perfect blend of ricotta cheese and powdered sugar. Sure, there’s also a shell, but everyone knows the king of the cannoli is the filling. A supermarket near me (Wegmanns) makes surprisingly good baked goods. Their cannoli, however, are way too sweet for me. So I decided to make my own. There are will be two steps to this: 1) making the shells, and 2) making the filling.
Step 1: Ingredients
You can buy premade cannoli shells and they could very well be awesome. Making them, however, is incredibly cheap and pretty easy. Also, I think I've only seen cannoli shells in one place around here. Oddly enough, they're at the cheese shop where I get the ricotta. If you want to buy your shells, then you can just skip this part. Enough rambling.
First, the hardware:
1 deep fryer (oddly enough, mine looks like a pot with a thermometer)
~2 qts of oil (I use canola)
1 set of tongs or one of those big mesh scoops. Something to get the cannoli out.
4 cannoli molds. You can buy these, and I did. I got them on Amazon for about $5 and my whole order got free shipping, so it worked out. However, I've heard of people making their own out of cut-up broom handles and whatnot. I don't have a saw, so I'd have to buy something in order to get cannoli molds so I just bought the molds.
Additional ingredients are listed below in recipe steps.
Step 2: Step 1
The ingredients: 2 c flour 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp sugar 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa 2 tbsp butter some Marsala wine 1 egg white, slightly whipped (not pictured) OK, if you've ever made pasta dough, it's almost identical. The only real difference is the butter and instead of a water or egg base, it's a wine base. Myself, I like the good stuff. I went to my local liquor store and looked for the most expensive bottle of Marsala wine I could fine. I'm no Mr. Moneybags, but I don't skimp on quality, so I shelled out the necessary $13. The egg is for sealing the dough around the mold, so we won't use it for a little while yet.
Step 3: Step 2
Anyway, I didn't take pictures of the individual steps since my hands were covered in flour and wine. First, sift together the flour, cinnamon, sugar, and cocoa. I nuked the butter for a little while to soften it and then mixed it in with my hands. Next comes the wine. Again, if you've made pasta dough, add it like you would water. If you haven't, just add a very little bit at a time (about a tbsp at a time or less). Mix each addition thoroughly with your hands before adding more. What your looking for is a dough that's a little stiff, stays together, but isn't sticky. If your dough breaks apart, add a little more wine and work it together. If it's sticky, add a pinch of flour and combine. When I say add a little, I mean it. A little goes a long way. Here's what I ended up with. Sorry for the crappy picture, but trust me when I say that it works out great. I let it chill in the fridge for about an hour because all the recipes said to. I admit I have no idea why.
Step 4: Step 3
Once it's chilled, we get to the no-fun part - rolling it out and cutting. Now, all the recipes I found online will tell you to get a rolling pin and flatten it to 1/8" to 1/16" thick. I did that the first time, too. But then I remembered my comparisons to pasta dough and whipped out this: My handy-dandy hand cranked pasta maker. It's cheap, made of solid steel, and works like a charm. If you have one, I highly recommend that you use it. If you don't have one, get one and use it. They're actually pretty inexpensive. Anyway, they way I do it is to take a quarter of the dough at a time. I flatten it with my hand to get it as thin as possible and feed it through at the "1" setting. I fold it over and run it through again. Repeat for 3 or 4 times to get it nice and smooth. Than run it through the "2" setting, then the "3", etc. all the way up to "5" or "6". The first batch this time I ended at 6, but thought it was bit thin.
Step 5: Step 4
Anyway, a quarter of the dough ends up like this:
Step 6: Step 5
Now you want to cut it out into 4" to 5" circles. I don't have a cookie cutter, but the lid from my sugar container (in the top of the picture) is the perfect size, so I use that. After they're cut, you want to make them slightly oval shaped. You can either run them over with the rolling pin or run them through the pasta maker at the same setting. Here are mine: The two that aren't too oval I actually ran through again to make more oval, but forgot to take pictures. Also, if you want you can reflatten the leftover dough and probably get 6 or so shells from one quarter of the dough we made. Yeah, that's a lot of shells.
Step 7: Step 6
Next, wrap the cutout around the mold and seal it by brushing the end with a little bit of the egg white. Here they are, ready for the deep fryer.
Step 8: Step 7
Set your deep fryer to somewhere between 360 to 375 (Fahrenheit). Or, if you're like me, heat the oil to that temp. You're going to want to cook them until they're brown and bubbly, which will take 2 to 3 minutes. This was my first time deep frying anything, so one thing I learned about deep frying on a stove is that once you put the stuff in, the temperature will drop a lot. Anyway, they'll look like this in the pot when they're done:
Step 9: Step 8
Take them out and let them cool on some paper towels. They only need a few minutes to cool while handling. While they're cooking, I actually prepare the next batch of shells. Then I can, I just slide off the shell and put the new ones one there. The shells should just slide off. They may need a bit of work. They're pretty strong, so don't worry too much about manhandling them. The big bubbles may burst, but it's just air anyway, so it doesn't matter.
Step 10: Step 9
made 16 shells. I could probably have made more, but the amount of filling I could make wouldn't fill any more. It's also good to make more because sometimes they tear while cooking and you get one of these:
Step 11: Step 10
Here are the finished cannoli shells: These will actually keep for quite a while. They're awesome just like this, but can become more awesome with the use of chocolate (more on this in filling section). In my opinion, a good cannoli shell should be a little flaky, crispy, and not that crunchy.
Step 12: Step 11
Cannoli Filling: Cannoli filling at its most basic is ricotta cheese and powdered sugar. Other stuff can be added to great effect (which I will be doing). Here is all you need for a great cannoli filling: 1 lb ricotta cheese powdered sugar to taste You can probably cheap out on nearly every ingredient except for the ricotta. It is what the cannoli is all about and if you skimp, your cannoli will suffer. Me, I buy it at a cheese shop that makes it daily. If you happen to live in the Lehigh Valley in PA, you can head to Calandra's Italian Cheeses just off of 33 for some fresh ricotta (and mozzarella, too). The powdered sugar is to taste. Personally, I like about 1 cup with 1 lb of ricotta. It preserves the great cheesiness, and makes it just sweet enough. Just add it about 1/4 cup at a time until you like the taste. I forgot to take a picture of the finished filling, but you just mix until nice and creamy. From here, you can just pipe it into a shell (I use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off) and have one of the best cannoli you'll ever eat. If the filling is too thick, you can mix in about a tablespoon or so of lemon juice to thin it out. Be careful, though. The filling should last a while in a Ziploc bag in your fridge. The cannoli shells by themselves will last for a long time. Once you pipe the filling into the cannoli, you have about a day before the cannoli become very soggy. It'll still taste good, but the shell will lose its crispiness and flakiness. It just won't be as awesome. But who's satisfied with just awesome? I say we move past awesome to wicked awesome (I'm from New England, so give me a break).
Step 13: Step 12
Chocolate-Hazelnut Cannoli Yes, that's right. Chocolate and hazelnut. Chocolate + hazelnut + cannoli = amazing taste. Here are the ingredients: hazelnut liqueur (I was shocked my liquor store had this stuff) 10 to 12 oz semisweet or bittersweet baking chocolate 1/2 c heavy cream The hazelnut liqueur goes into the filling, the chocolate goes onto the shells. I actually divided my filling into two portions so I could make this and the next filling. For me, I like my flavorings very subtle. Enough so you know it's there, but not enough to overpower the cheesy goodness. In my half-batch, a little more than 1 tbsp of liqueur was enough. 2 whole tablespoons should be enough for a whole batch. That's the easy part The chocolate isn't as easy. For a coating this time, I tried a heavy ganache. I'll see how it turns out. Basically, a ganache is boiling cream added to chocolate. Start off by boiling the half a cup of cream. Now we need to nuke the chocolate a little bit because we're adding a little bit of cream to a lot of chocolate. How much, you ask?
Step 14: Step 13
That much. I put in 10 ounces, because chopping wasn't all that much fun. Nuke this for 20 to 30 seconds at a time until it just starts to melt.
Step 15: Step 14
It should look something like this: It may not looked fully cooked, but swirl it with a fork and you'll see it's actually pretty melted. Again, I forgot to take pictures. But once the cream is at a full boil, pour it onto the chocolate. Let it sit for about a minute. then stir and you get a lovely, thick, ganache.
Step 16: Step 15
Roll the cannoli shells in the chocolate and set aside. Lovely, huh? The chocolate coating is actually a bit strong, so you might want to experiment with different chocolates (milk, maybe). Or you could put on a lighter coating. Additionally, if you make the chocolate thin enough, you should be able to coat the inside which will make the cannoli last longer.
Step 17: Step 16
Pumpkin Cannoli After I made my last pumpkin pie, I thought the batter tasted quite good and got the idea to use it in cannoli. But it contained raw eggs, so I thought it might be better not to use it directly. Also, I completely forgot about my idea and through it out. So, here's a sort of modification. I've never tried this before, so it's we'll see how it works out (the fact that I'm typing this out is probably a good indicator, though). 2 or 3 tbsp of freshly pureed pumpkin (I used a sugar pumpkin) cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, whatever spices you want.
Step 18: Step 17
I ended up using 2 tbsp of pumpkin puree in my half-batch, so 3 or 4 might work for you. Again, add a little bit at a time until you reach the right level of pumpkinocity. I also added each of the spices sparingly, maybe a pinch or two of each. Again, I was looking for a more subtle flavor. Feel free to add however much or little you want. Mixed together, it looks, well, not so pretty: Yeah, I know. But I can verify that this does, indeed, taste very nice. Not too pumpkiny, but it's there.
Step 19: Step 18
The Finished Product And here they are: In the name of science, I devoured both of these. These are indeed amazing. So, I hope you enjoy and I hope you don't mind gaining weight.