Homemade Cannoli

Today it’s time for another culinary feat: some homemade cannoli. I grew up with these as the staple dessert for any family gathering (being from a family with an almost alarming sense of Italian heritage pride, considering my great-grandparents were the only true Italians). I’ve posted before about Nonni sauce, and this is another one of those dishes she cooked always from scratch.

Unfortunately, her original recipe was forgotten a long time ago. But that didn’t stop me from trying to recreate something she’d approve of.

Truth be told, I was planning to make all of these with a classic filling, but I ran out about halfway through filling the shells and didn’t have any more mascarpone (oops). So I whipped up a quick chocolate version and, to my surprise, it came out pretty good!

There are many, MANY different flavors to fill cannoli. Some people fold the chocolate chips right in, others dip the ends, or some (like myself) prefer no chocolate chips at all. You can also melt the chocolate and dip the ends of the shells in before filling, or even change flavors entirely like including hazelnut or pistachio.

For now, let’s just stick with plain and chocolate, eh?

Like anything else, practice makes perfect. My first few fryings were a little over done (as in just on the line of being burned), some were too underdone, some too small, some even popped off the molds. So just keep in mind that your first batch probably won’t turn out perfectly.

But that shouldn’t stop you from trying!

2 cups flour, plus additional for rolling
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 eggs
½ cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
Traditional Filling::
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup mascarpone
pinch of cinnamon
Chocolate Filling::
2 cups whole milk ricotta
5 ounces dark chocolate
¼ cup powdered sugar
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
canola oil (enough to fill the dutch oven ⅔ of the way)
deep-fry thermometer
metal tongs or a deep fry skimmer (to insert and remove cannoli)
4 metal cannoli molds, or a wooden dowel (1-inch diameter) and a roll of aluminum foil to make your own
¾ cup mini chocolate chips

4-Quart Dutch Oven
about 24 cannoli, depending on size
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 1 hour 30 minutes

1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, shortening, 1 of the eggs, and wine to the bowl of stand mixer.
2. Mix with the dough hook attachment on medium-low speed until well-combined and smooth, about 8 minutes.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Make the filling(s) while the dough is resting. For the traditional filling, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl with a stand or hand mixer. Cover and let chill in the fridge until ready to fill. For the chocolate filling, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl by microwaving in 30 second intervals until fully melted, stirring between each heating. Cool the chocolate slightly, then add to the remaining ingredients and combine with a stand or hand mixer until combined. Cover and let chill. Create both of these fillings to have half of your cannoli chocolate, and half classic. To have them all one or the other, simply double the recipe for desired filling.
5. While the fillings are chilling and the dough is setting, make the molds for the cannoli if you do not have premade ones. To do this, take a piece of aluminum foil about 12inx12in. Fold it in half once. Starting from the shorter end, wrap the foil around the dowel to create a tube roughly 6 inches long. Slide off the dowel and gently fold one of the edges over itself to create a more sturdy tube. Do this until you have 4 aluminum foil tubes.
6. After the dough has rested 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out so it is very thin, about ⅛-inch thick.
7. Use a roughly 4-inch cookie cutter or upside down glass/small bowl to cut circles out of the dough.
8. Gently pull the dough into an oval roughly 5-inches long. Repeat with the remaining dough.
9. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg.
10. Add the oil to the dutch oven to fill it about ⅔ of the way. Heat over medium heat until it reaches 350℉. Use the deep-fry thermometer to keep this heat throughout the cooking process.
11. Wrap one oval lengthwise loosely around one of the cannoli molds. Gently brush one end of the shel with egg wash, then pull the egg-brushed end over the other end and press together to seal. Repeat with the three remaining molds.
12. Carefully lower one mold at a time with the tongs or oil skimmer into the oil and fry, turning occasionally until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
13. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain for a few minutes, then onto a cooling rack.
14. When cool to the touch, carefully pull out the molds. Repeat steps 11-14 until all of the dough has been used up. Let cannoli shells cool completely.
15. When completely cooled, coop the filling into a pastry bag or sandwich bag. If using a sandwich bag, cut a small hole in the corner for the filling to be squeezed out.
16. Carefully insert the tip halfway into one shell and pipe the filling until it comes out the end you are piping into. Pull out and finish filling from the other end. Dip the ends of the cannoli into a bowl of the mini chocolate chips, if desired.
17. Repeat until all of the shells are filled.

Recipe inspiration from Cooking with Cocktail Rings

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