Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cannoli from Home!

Mom's Famous Cannoli Recipe

My mom is known for her cannolis. You will not taste a better cannoli. I promise you. I will not purchase cannolis at bakeries because they taste like dirt next to these. Seriously. They're THAT good. When mom has a party? People come. Not for the party, not to see family, not for the holiday....but for the CANNOLI!!! 

Although, in all honesty, this isn't actually my mom's recipe. She got this recipe from one of my Grandma's friends. So I kinda feel a little dirty for sharing this. Like I'm sharing someone else's secret family recipe. But I think it's safe to say that my Grandma's friend isn't reading this know....

There are few tools that are a must when making a cannoli recipe, tubes like above, a piping bag, and round cutters:

4cups (500 grams/17 ounces) all-purpose flour
50 grams sugar(1/4 cup/ 1.8-ounces)
2 teaspoon (10 grams/0.12 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4-cup plus 2 tablespoons (84 grams/
3-ounces)  olive oil

1 tsp (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
1/2 cup (~59 grams/4 fluid oz/125 ml) sweet Marsala or any available white/red wine
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Neutral oil for frying (about 2 quarts/8 cups/2 liters)
1/2 cup (~62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish (optional) Confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (do this only once). Roll a dough oval from the long side around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (DO NOT allow the egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

 Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

 Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Mom usually makes this in advance and refrigerates the dough. It's easier to roll and work with when it's cold. Roll it thin (using flour so it doesn't stick), like less than an eight of an inch. Use a round cookie cutter (or a cup or a glass...anything round will do)...there are different sized tubes so you'll have to experiment with the size of the circle you're cutting. Wrap the cut circle around the tube and seal the edge with sure the edges are sealed good because they tend to pop open when frying. 

Confession: My brother and I used to pray for shells that popped open because then mom let us eat them. You can't fill a cannoli shell if it pops open. =) And sometimes....just sometimes....we'd purposely not seal it well. Sorry mom.

Heat the  oil and the butter over medium heat until the  butter is completely melted. You want the oil butter mixture to come to 375° any hotter than that and you will have bitter tasting Cannoli shells.  If you don't have a deep fryer you may use and cast iron or other suitable pan that will fit enough oil to fry Cannoli shells.

The shells can be made several days in advance and keep well.

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice

3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios


Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

 In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate and/or nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

The easiest way to fill the cannoli shell is to use a cake decorator's bag such as this:

Then you mix (very) finely chopped walnuts and some (very) finely chopped Hershey's chocolate together in a bowl. You can even mix some of the finely chopped Hershey's chocolate into the cooled filling. Yummy. Then dip the ends of the filled cannolis into the nut/chocolate mixture.
For best results...don't fill the shells too early. The shells with get a little soggy and lose their flakiness if you fill them too soon.
And that's it.
I can't believe I finally made them