Saturday, June 15, 2024

HOLY CANNOLI! National Cannoli Day!

Today is National Cannoli Day! I love all these food holidays because they remind me that there are so many different chocolate foods. One of my all time favorite desserts: Cannoli. I first tasted cannoli in South Philly, either at the bakeries or for dessert at the many Italian restaurants. Traditionally cannoli come from the Palermo and Messina areas and were prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, but it quickly became a year-round staple in Sicily. Cannoli are fried and stuffed with sweet ricotta cheese with chocolate chips. Heaven!

Here's a great recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli on the FoodNetwork. Do you have a favorite cannoli recipe? Post a comment with link or note.

Don't have a Cannoli mold? Here are a few substitutes.
Wood dowel: about 6-8 inches. Sand it down, so it's smooth, and then grease with canola oil.
Curtain rod (be sure it's clean).
Aluminum Foil: Scrunch up foil into golf ball sized balls. Make a 6-8 inch long line and press together for even surface. Wrap with additional aluminum foil into long piece of aluminum. Make enough for all your cannoli.

And, you can buy Cannoli shells ready made and just stuff them!

Many Italian bakeries and markets sell cannoli...just in case you don't feel like making them today!



2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips
1 lemon
1 quart canola oil, for frying

Flour, for rolling
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Powdered sugar, for dusting


For Shell Dough: 
In medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Work butter pieces into flour with your fingers until mixture becomes coarse and sandy. Add egg yolk and white wine and mix until it becomes  smooth dough. Spread piece of plastic wrap on flat surface and place dough in center. Wrap plastic loosely around it and press dough to fill gap. Flattening dough will mean less rolling later. Let it rest in fridge for a few minutes while you make filling.

For Filling: 
In medium bowl, whisk ricotta until smooth. Sift in powdered sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Mix to blend. In separate bowl (or in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment), beat heavy cream until fairly stiff. Using rubber spatula, gently fold cream into ricotta mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Lightly zest exterior of lemon and stir it into ricotta. Refrigerate for half hour to hour.

To Roll and Fry Shells:
In medium pot with heavy bottom, heat canola oil to 360 degrees F. Meanwhile, sift even layer of flour on flat surface. Flour rolling pin. Roll dough until very thin (about 1/8-inch thick). Cut dough into fourths and work in small batches.

Use any glass or small bowl that has 3-to-4-inch diameter. Cut rounds, tracing around each one to assure dough has been fully cut. You should have about 24 circles. Wrap each circle around cannoli mold. Use a little of the egg wash on edge of each round to seal it shut and to assure it won't slide or fall off the mold before pressing it closed over the mold. Flare the edges out slightly from the mold. Flaring will allow oil to penetrate each cannoli shell as they fry. Use pair of tongs to hold edge of the mold as you submerge and fry shell in the oil until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil, and holding mold in one had with tongs, gently grip shell in your other hand with kitchen towel and carefully slide off the mold. Set aside to cool. Repeat with all of the circles.

To Fill Cannolis: 
Just before serving, use pastry bag without tip to pipe ricotta into cannoli molds. Fill  cannoli shells from both ends so cream runs through the whole shell. Dust with powdered sugar. Powdered sugar gives that little extra sweetness and added texture to the exterior. It also makes me feel like I have a professional bakery touch in my own home.
Serve immediately.

If ricotta has an excess of liquid, drain over strainer for at least half hour before making filling. Make and fry shells and filling. Don't fill shells with cream until you are ready to eat them. Everyone loves a crispy cannoli.

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