One of the most amazingly beautiful yet time consuming and fiddly things I have made of late. However Cannoli are one of my most favourite things ever! And I have been itching to make these for an eternity. This is a good quality recipe but there are a few things I discovered in the course of this recipe that you should know before having a go yourself.
Cannoli tubes! They are metal, mine are non stick and they were only about $10 for a set of 4. I have seen people using pasta canneloni tubes instead of metal, and wood tubes too, but I cannot tell you about these. I do not know if or how well they work.
I never deep fry anything so initially I had some issues getting the right frying temperature for these cannoli. The oil needs to be 190 degree Celsius. Too hot and they will burn before they cook properly (this is the issue I had). Too cold and they won’t bubble or go crispy like they are supposed to. If you have a deep fryer you will be on easy street. After my first attempt where I struggled with the oil temperature, I went out and bought a cheap deep fryer for about $30 from Target. I was on easy street the next time I made them. Hello reliable temperature control!! I would strongly recommend you buy or borrow one for this recipe.
Also it took me a few tries to realise that the cannoli pastry need to be super dooper thin (thin enough to read through- seriously- almost like tissue paper), so if you have a pasta maker you can use this to your advantage to roll it really thinly. otherwise- roll roll roll. No it’s not that hard to roll, but just remember you are aiming for translucent almost. The pastry bubbles and thickens a lot during the cooking.
Also, the cannoli needs to be wrapped really really loosely around the tubes, the reason for this is you need to allow the oil to get inside the cannoli to cook the inside, also they expand- so leave them room to bubble up. This makes for crispy cannoli- not soggy. You want that inside nice and crisp so wrap really loosely!
A martini glass is your best friend for getting a nice consistent circular shape- or you can use an oval or circular cardboard cut out of similar size. If using oval- join together on the long edges.
Melted chocolate. The pros sometimes coat the inner tube with chocolate too to prevent cannoli going soggy- I simply coated the ends and you can dip these ends into crushed nuts (pistachios) as well as dipping the exposed cannoli filling into the pistachios. You can also use tiny chocolate chips or chocolate flakes.
Ricotta: Use the driest Ricotta you can, otherwise you will need to drain off the excess moisture as you really don’t want a soggy filling. You can use Cornflour to some extent to thicken up a slightly runny filling, but save yourself the heartache and buy a ricotta that does not have much moisture in it.
Do not fill your cannoli until they are 100% cooled!! Just don’t do it!!
Store in an airtight container. If cooked properly to crispy perfection you should be able to store for up to 2 months according to other sources, however i would keep them just a couple of days in case they absorb air moisture.. I have also frozen them once they have cooled and chocolate coated (un-filled or course) and this seemed to work well too, however if doing this I would fill and serve within a few hours after removing from the freezer just in case they absorbed moisture.
For best results fill cannoli immediately prior to serving or they may go soggy.
If you can master all these steps: the correct thinness of the pastry, the correct oil temperature, the correct cooking time, the chocolate etc- well congratulations!
If you’re up for a challenge and are a cannoli lover like me give these a go, hopefully my tips help, let me know how you go!
Makes approx 40 Cannoli
- 45 grams Unsalted Butter
- 2 Cups Plain Flour, spooned and leveled (280-300 grams)
- 2 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 Cup Marsala
- 1 Egg, slightly beaten
- (900 grams) Ricotta (well drained- no moisture)
- 1 -1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar (to taste)
- Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated (optional)
- several drops of Lemon Essence (optional to taste or substitute with Vanilla)
- Cornflour (optional- if needed to thicken mixture)
- Cut the Butter into the Flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Fold in the sugar and cinnamon, gradually add the marsala a few drops at a time.
- Add the egg, mix until pastry holds together. You may need a few extra drops of marsala if too dry.
- Form into a flat disc, cover with gladwrap, refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours.
- Divide dough into quarters. I divided each quarter into about 8-10 balls making it easier to roll out the individual cannoli and to reduce wastage (the cannoli pastry gets hard to work with after a couple of re-rolls. You will figure out how much pastry you need per cannoli, use your kitchen scales to help.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out as thin as possible, almost like tissue paper, you should be able to read through it.
- Using a martini glass as a template, or approx 10 cm circles or ovals about 12 cm long. Cut out all the pastry rounds and set aside- covered so they don't dry out.
- Preheat your oil to 190 degrees Celsius.
- Very loosely wrap the pastry rounds around the cannoli tubes. Seal the edges where they meet with a little beaten egg white, a dab or milk or a little water and firmly seal.
- Deep fry in a minimum 5cm of oil at 190 degrees Celsius! If at the correct temperature, these cannoli shells should take about 2 minutes to cook. You will soon see if your temperature is too high or too low depending on how long they take to cook. They need to be crispy, golden brown but not black. Too high and they will burn and not cook, too low and they won't go crispy or bubble up enough. They need to be on the crunchier side- not chewy.
- Drain on paper towels
- Remove metal tube when cool enough to handle and do not re-use tube until completely cooled.
- You can melt some good quality cooking chocolate in a metal bowl set high above a saucepan of simmering water and dip the ends of the cannoli. If you're clever you can coat the inside of the cannoli with tempered chocolate so it doesn't melt easily. These chocolate coated ends look great dipped into the crushed pistachios so they set in place. I didn't bother tempering the chocolate, it worked fine without the tempering process.
- Once fully cooled you can store in an airtight container until ready to use. But on the safe side use within a couple of days.
- Using an electric beater, beat the Ricotta, Sugar and Lemon Zest and Lemon Essence together until a stiff mixture forms. If your Ricotta was too moist you can add enough Cornflour until you have a thicker consistency. You will be able to taste the texture if you add to much. Refrigerate until needed and then fill into cooled cannoli shells using a piping bag- or alternatively a zip lock bag with the corner snipped off. Dip the exposed ends into crushed pistachios or baby choc chips or even shaved chocolate to help trap the filling inside the shell.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate up to a few hours before serving.
- Dust with icing sugar to serve