Category Archives: Cannoli

Making Sicilian Cannoli

Hey. Your regular guy Joey ain’t here right now. He had to go see a guy about a thing, knowadimean? I’m his cousin Paulie. I’m here to make sure he doesn’t get this whole cannoli thing fudged up, pardon the French. ‘Cause ya know there’s no bakery cannolo in the world that beats the kind you make at home, which are so friggin’ light and so friggin’ rich and so friggin’ crunchy it makes me about to wanna friggin’ die. Jeez there I go again with the French, sorry. I told Joey I’d watch my friggin’ mouth. Ah, shhhi—

Anyway let’s get going on this. I got a thing later. First you need some dough, right? So sift the flour and salt and sugar into your mixer bowl here. You don’t gotta use a mixer if you don’t want, you can do this with a spoon and a bowl. That’s how nonna did it.

Put on the paddle and add the shortening. Stir that until it’s like bread crumbs, maybe two minutes, then start putting in the tablespoons of Marsala.



…until you got maybe six in there. Run the machine for maybe two-three minutes. The dough ought to be coming together. Add a teaspoon more Marsala otherwise. You want this sorta lookin’ thing:

Take the dough pieces out, put ‘em on a board…

…and knead the dough. Yeah Joey and I both have our nonna’s hands. Jeez she made some great friggin’ cannoli. Her sausage and peppers made you wanna friggin’ cry.

Anyway, you want it like this:

Wrap that bad boy up in plastic and let it sit on the counter an hour.

After an hour flour your board and grab a pin. Cut a piece of dough, maybe a quarter of it.

Roll it out.

Keep rolling until it’s thin — and I mean thin — curling at the edges, bubbles underneath, stickin’-to-the-board thin. Look close and you can see the board through this sheet of dough, that’s how friggin’ thin it is. Ah crap there’s the French again. It’s a habit. Sorry Joey!

Now if I was you I’d let that sheet sit there about ten minutes so it relaxes a little. Otherwise it snaps back like aunt Angiola’s bra strap at the end of a hard day, knowadimean? Ah fudge, can I say crap like that here? Anyway then get your cutter and cut ‘em.

See the cut circles are snapping back a little there even after a rest. You know they don’t have this problem back in Italy. They don’t. It’s the gluten in the flour they got. Ask Joey he’ll tell you all about it. Just make sure you got some time to spare first, knowadimean?

So now all we do is roll the circles out to make ‘em a little bigger and a little thinner. I also roll ‘em a little oval-shaped which makes the ends of the cannoli look a little nicer. This one isn’t perfect but then neither is life, am I right?

Grab a lightly greased cannolo form and wrap it around.

Oop, but before you finish the roll dab your finger in a little egg white…

…then wipe it on there. Now, you’re finished.

So OK, get your oil good and hot, about 360. Gently ease those bad boys in. Don’t go splashing or you’ll be sorry I promise. Here I’m only doing two, but I usually do four at a time. You wanna make sure that when you get all of ‘em in the oil you keep ‘em moving around a little. Otherwise the sides that are touching the bottom of the pan are gonna burn, right? Roll those things a little.

After maybe 45 seconds, when they’re a little brown, carefully pick ‘em up one at a time with your tongs.

The cannoli shells might slip right off the end if you shake the thing just a little. Or you can push ‘em off the form with a butter knife. Bingo, back in the oil they go.

Since they’re gonna want to float, you wanna hold’em under with the tongs or with a nice big spider like you see in the next picture there. Fry’em maybe another two minutes.

You want to go a little darker than you would with a doughnut, say. That’s how they make’em in Italy and that little bit of bitter flavor is nice with the filling. Very nice.

Some of these are a little ugly, but then so are you am I right? Hey lighten up I’m just bustin’ chops. You know your problem is you don’t know how to relax. So OK, you let these things drain and cool down all the way. It’s great to make these things ahead. Just put ‘em in a box with an airtight lid and they stay pretty crispy for a week. The main thing is, you’d don’t ever, EVER want to fill a cannolo until you’re ready to eat it. Otherwise the shells get soggy. Which sucks. Eh…sorry.

Fill up a pastry bag with ricotta cream, maybe you got a few mini chocolate chips mixed in there, and fill one side.

Flip it and fill the other. Now if you want to dip the ends in more chips or some chopped pistachios, knock yourself out.

Me I just like a little sugar on top.

How do these things taste? Fuggeddaboudit. Hey, this has been fun. Alright, I’m outta here. – Paulie

Filed under:  Cannoli, Pastry | 28 Comments

Cannoli Shells Recipe

This recipe, like the one for the ricotta cream, is adapted from Grace Massa Langlois’ new book, Grace’s Sweet Life. The only difference is that I left out 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder in the dry ingredients, as I like a blonde pastry shell. Add it back if you prefer a shell with a hint of chocolate in it!

You’ll need a set of cannoli forms to make these, basically little stainless steel tubes that can be had very inexpensively at cooking supply stores. A pasta machine comes in handy for rolling the dough thin (the key to light cannoli shells) but isn’t essential. Likewise, an oval 3″ x 4 1/2″ cutter is ideal for getting the perfect dough shape, but not essential. A round cutter will also work well. Assemble:

6.25 ounces (1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2 tablespoon vegetable shortening
6 to 7 tablespoons marsala wine
1 to 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Begin by lining a sheet pan with 3 or 4 layers of paper towels. Line a second sheet with parchment paper. Pour three or four inches of vegetable oil into a deep pot for frying. Attach a thermometer.

Sift the flour, salt and cocoa (if using) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Add the vegetable shortening and beat on low until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. (Yes you can do all this by hand if you prefer).

Gradually add 6 tablespoons of the wine and beat on low until the dough starts to come together in a ball. If the dough isn’t coming together, add the last tablespoon of wine a little at a time. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead it for about 2-3 minutes until it’s smooth. Shape it into a ball, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic and let it sit at room temperature for one hour.

Divide the dough into quarters. At this point you can employ a pasta machine to steadily flatten the dough (using flour only if you desperately need it) until it’s at the thinnest possible setting. Alternately you may use a board and pin (which is what I’ll probably do). When the pasty is thin enough, lay it out on a work surface and cover it with kitchen towels so it won’t dry out.

Set the oil on medium high heat, bringing it up to 350 to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile cut the dough using a 3 1/2″ round cutter (or the oval cutter mentioned above). Spray the cannoli forms lightly with cooking spray, then wrap a dough piece around each, affixing it with a little of the beaten egg white. Set them on the parchment-lined sheet pan while you prepare to fry.

When the oil reaches the proper temperature, gently lower the forms into the oil. Fry about 45 seconds. Then, grasping the end of the form with tongs, carefully lift one out. Gently shake it until the cannoli slips back into the oil, then fry for another minute or so until lightly brown. If it won’t release it’s OK to push it a bit with a butter knife.

Remove the shells gently with the tongs and drain them on the paper towels. Allow them to cool completely. Meanwhile, provided the forms are cool, wrap and fry them again until all your dough is used. Let the shells cool completely before filling them. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Filed under:  Cannoli, Pastry | 53 Comments