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.
- FILLING1 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 choppedDOUGH1 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
- DIRECTIONSWhip 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.
- Paired with: Zardetto Zeta Prosecco
This recipe was featured on Season 17 - Episode 1702.
Abruzzese Ricotta Cake
I made your cannoli shell recipe using a pasta roller on my KitchenAid standmixer as you suggested; OMG, the angels sang! It was the perfect solution to a perfectly thin, crackly shell. Most store-bought shells have egg in it; and bc of egg allergies, this recipe filled the bill in every way! Your staff helped me with allergy questions for which I am also very grateful. Thanks for everything!
Thank you for sharing your family’s recipe. I am not Italian but my mama and I worked in an Italian bakery years ago in LIncoln Hts, CA, a suburb of L.A. and the owner, and his pastry chef were Sicilians. That’s where I first tasted cannolis. They were the best. He only sprinkled pistachios on the ricotta filling and no chocolate. His cheesecakes were also simple and delicious.
Mary Ann pasqua
For cookies and bakery goods I use only your recipes, which are hands down the one and only. Your pizzelle recipe cannot be beat, your recipe for madeleines beat every single other one I have ever tried, so I am definitely going to try this recipe. Been watching and following your show and buying cook books for the last 25 years. I am not Italian ( my husband is) and I deeply respect your devotion to keeping the Italian traditions and passing on your immense knowledge to another generation.
Thank you Maryann, Usually, I would be intimidated to try this but I really cant wait to make these
I use won ton round skins for the shells and they are thin and flaky. I have the metal tubes from my mother in law. I don’t use citron, don’t like it but use toasted chopped almonds, chopped milk chocolate and well drained marachino cherries with the whipped, drained ricotta. I also fold in some whipped cream.
Just a note of Thanks for all the great recipes, stories, and sharing your travels! Have watched you for years and your stories bring back many memories of baking and cooking with my grandparents and mom. I too try to keep the family traditions alive. Teaching my boys, and now young nieces how to make ravioli and all our family cookie favorites. You inspire me, and I feel a kinship with you from that deep desire to keep my ancestral ties alive.
When I fry the cannoli shells, they unravel from the stainless steel form that I use. I have been using egg white to fasten the pastry ends together.
Thank you Mary Ann! I have been watching your shows for many years! Love your cooking! I tried these as I am trying to perfect the cannoli since I agree that most are not so good! However I find canola oil leaves a taste I just don’t like on the shell and the cream has a little too much cinnamon. I am going to make again. Someone else suggesting frying in lard or peanut oil. Not sure….
I love using my homemade pizzelles for cannoli for something different. Just wrap a fresh off the press pizzelle around a stainless steel form and there ya go!
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.