CannoliClick to Play


Mary Ann Esposito

MAKES 14 TO 18

The queen of all southern Italian desserts is cannoli. These crisp, flaky cylinders are filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, nuts, citron, and bits of chocolate. Sicily lays claim to cannoli, which probably originally came from the Arabs, who influenced so much of Sicily's cooking.

I use an old recipe my mother gave me that was given to her by her mother, and her mother before that. Originally, sheep's milk ricotta was used. I still use my grandmother's old wooden forms, fashioned from a broom handle, to make the cylinders, but you can buy stainless steel ones in kitchenware stores.


1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese, well drained
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped milk chocolate (4 to 5 small bars)
1/4 cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped


1 cup King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter or lard
4 to 5 tablespoons dry white wine or sweet Marsala wine
2 cups vegetable oil
Colored sprinkles
Confectioners' sugar


Whip the cheese in a bowl until smooth; stir in the sugar, cinnamon and chocolate. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to fill the cannoli shells.

To make the dough, place the flour in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter or lard and sugar and mix with a fork, or pulse, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the 1/4 cup of wine and shape the mixture into a ball; add a little more wine if the dough appears too dry. It should be soft but not sticky. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Place the chilled dough on a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. Work with 1 piece of dough at a time; keep the remaining dough refrigerated. Roll the dough out to a very thin long rectangle about 14 inches long and 3 inches wide, either by hand or using a pasta machine set to the finest setting. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Place a cannoli form diagonally across 1 square. Roll the dough up around the form so the points meet in the center. Seal the points with a little water. Continue making cylinders until all the dough is used.

In an electric skillet, heat the vegetable oil to 375ºF. Fry the cannoli 3 or 4 at a time, turning them as they brown and blister, until golden brown on all sides. Drain them on brown paper. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully slide the cannoli off the forms.

To serve, use a long iced tea spoon or a pastry bag without a tip to fill the cannoli with the ricotta cheese mixture. Dip the ends into colored sprinkles, arrange them on a tray, and sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the tops. Serve at once.

Note: If you prefer, you can fry the cannoli in a deep fryer. Be sure to fill the cannoli just before serving - any sooner will make the shells soggy.

This recipe is featured on show 1702 — Favorite Cheeses and Wines.

Paired with: Zardetto Zeta Prosecco

item recipe is featured in Episode 1702 of Season 17.

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Leave a comment

  1. Dedee's avatar


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    Hi Maryann. I made your pasticiotti recipe and loved the crust. however, I found the vanilla cream custard to be lacking was quite bland and seemed it needed to be sweeter. I followed your recipe exactly. Please advise. Thank you. Dedee
  2. karen's avatar


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    I've been searching for that perfect cannoli recipe (cannoli's that taste like the one's from Arthur Ave in the Bronx) and I've read that ricotta salata is better to use. Maybe that will help.

  3. Dominick Sciortino's avatar

    Dominick Sciortino

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    Hello Mary Ann, first let me apologize. I e-mailed you because you never made connoli on your show. Lo and behold, I searched your web site and bang there it was staring me in my face. Thank you Mary Ann. Keep on cooking.
  4. Ralph Alfano's avatar

    Ralph Alfano

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    Hi, Mary Ann, I have tried several recipies for canolli filling and i never could get the same taste as if it came from a good italian bakery. There seems to be something missing from the taste and consistansy. might you know what that is?
  5. John Capraro's avatar

    John Capraro

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    Ciao Mary Ann. I just wanted to say that I enjoy your show, and enjoy visiting your website. Thank you for sharing your recipes, and for the tutorials. I really appreciate it. Dedee, when i make pusties, i use Jello in the box cook n serve. The filling is delicious. I found that making the filling from scratch got a little costly, so i buy a $.99 box of Jello.
  6. Alan Hunter's avatar

    Alan Hunter

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    Love your show!
  7. carole Pracitto's avatar

    carole Pracitto

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    what can you use in place of wine in the shell recipe? Thank you

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