2-3 hours, dough chilled overnight
makes: 60 cannoli or so (allowing for 15-20 accidents with the shells)
Guys, we are finally at dessert! Thank you all for sticking with me as I shared all of the recipes for our Chez Nous Sicilian Dinner over the past two weeks.
Today, I am thrilled to share with you a recipe that I honestly wasn’t sure about at first. Cannoli are known as a challenging dish, to the point that everyone that came to dinner, including one true Sicilian, asked me where I ordered the shells from! I didn’t order the shells, and I will share the technique and recipe below. I am so proud of how beautifully these babies came out, people have been asking for the recipe since the dinner and I am thrilled to comply.
I ate a cannoli almost every day in Sicily, they replaced my daily Italian Gelato during this trip. I sampled many different varieties and flavors, meanwhile judging them all and trying to create the optimal combinations for my own. I decided that my favorite flavor combinations were ricotta with chocolate chips, ricotta with pistachio, and ricotta with candied orange, so that is what I decided to make for the dinner.
The best filling I had was always under-sweetened, so I do not recommend adding too much sugar, however, that is really up to you. Add as much or as little sugar as you like. The important thing is to make sure you beat the ricotta and sugar together for as long as possible before adding any other flavors to get rid of the granular nature of ricotta cheese.
Serve these lovely desserts as soon as possible after you make them, but I filled mine about 5 hours beforehand and they turned out perfectly!
Just hanging out in Syracuse looking at ancient ruins!
Last month, I finally made my trip to Sicily, the glorious land of fish, beautiful food, sunshine and Greek and Roman monuments. I landed in Catania and fell in love instantly. I ate some of the best food I have ever had, and was inspired to create some really incredible flavor combinations. I love pasta, and truly appreciate the art of making fresh homemade pasta. With that said, I always consider pasta dishes as a delicious but simple thing to cook when I don’t feel like doing something complex and crazy. Fresh and simple….but…I learned that is not always the case. I ate incredible pasta dishes with complex (and frequently multiple) sauces that intermingled on my plate in an explosion of flavors and visual elements. Creamy ricotta balanced with pitch black squid ink like black snakes making their way through a white sand beach.
I was so thrilled to come home and share the incredible cuisine I experienced with our friends, and this past Saturday, I finally had the opportunity. We hosted 17 of our lovely friends for a traditional Sicilian meal, which, unlike our traditional 3 course dinners, sported four courses. As per Sicilian tradition, we started with an antipasti course of Arancini, Croquettes, and Bruschetta.
To start our meal, we made a trio of delicious Antipasti. If you are already a lover of squid ink, try my Squid Ink Bread, which we used to create a Sea Urchin and Lardo Bruschetta. Alongside the bruschetta, we served some Spinach Arancini.
We also served some incredibly delicious Milk and Cheese Croquettes (the recipe for which I will not share yet, as I am still figuring out how to prevent them from exploding while frying….the taste is divine though!).
The Primi course, which follows the antipasti, is generally formed of a pasta dish of some sort, and we did not disappoint. We served a trio of delicious seafood pastas. I created a Handmade Pasta with a Creamy and Lemony Ricotta which paired with a Squid Ink Sauce. It was divine! In addition we created a Spaghetti Nero D’Avola with a spicy tomato sauce of Mussels, Razor Clams, and Prawns. Not sure what Spaghetti Nero D’Avola means? It means I boiled my pasta in the Nero d’Avola red wine from Sicily instead of water. I saw this for the first time in Sicily, and fell in love! Our final pasta dish was one that seems a bit unconventional for Italy, but is actually a quintessentially Sicilian dish, a Seafood Couscous!
The Secondi course generally consists of meats and fishes. We served an Eggplant Caponata with Swordfish, and a delicious and slow cooked Braised Lamb Shank Stew. Perhaps it was too much food, but I couldn’t think of a single dish to remove from the list.
- for the shells:
- 4 cups flour +
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/8 cup red wine
- 10 eggs
- 2 sticks butter
- vegetable oil, to fry
- for the filling:
- 3 pounds ricotta
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 cup chilled chocolate shards, small enough to fit through a piping bag. I chopped up regular chocolate chips
- for the candied orange:
- 4 large orange peels, pith included
- 4 cups sugar
- to finish:
- pistachio crumbles
- confectioner’s sugar
- For the candied boil the orange peels three times, making sure to change the water each time. This will remove the bitterness from the peels.
Rinse the peels and combine with sugar and about 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour and a half.
Remove from heat, cool, and slice the peels into thin slices. Keep them in the syrup to store.
- For the cannoli shells, combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
Add the eggs.
Add the flour and wine.
Beat on medium for about 4 minutes. The consistency should be that of chilled cookie batter, if it is too soft, add a bit of flour.
Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oil until a bit of dough sizzles immediately but does not burn within a few minutes.
Roll out the dough until it is as thin as 5 pieces of paper, really really thin guys, it inflates when you cook.
Cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter and wrap the dough around a steel cannoli form. Add a bit of water to secure the two ends together.
Fry for about 3-4 minutes until golden and rest on a paper towel lined plate.
I fried 6 at a time, allowing 6 to rest a few seconds before removing the steel inserts while the rest cooked. This seemed like the most efficient method for me.
This can be done up to a day in advance if needed, but day of is always best.
- For the filling, beat the ricotta and confectioner’s sugar until all of the little ricotta lumps are out and the filling texture seems fluffy.
Add in the chocolate chips, place in a piping bag, and refrigerate until ready to use.
For mine, I left half of the filling plain and added chocolate chips to the other half.
- When ready to serve, add a strip of orange to the inside of each shell and fill carefully with the filling from both ends.
I made two flavors. The chocolate chip filling just got shell, candied orange, and filling. The plain filling got shell, candied orange, filling, and then each end of the cannoli was dipped in a little bowl of crushed pistachios.
Once all of the cannoli are on a platter, dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.
The shells will begin to soften after a few hours. They can be kept in the fridge overnight, they will taste delicious but will be soft instead of crunchy, so fill them as close to serving as possible.
Shells and filling separated are fine for about 3 days.
Extra dough can be frozen.