Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mama's Cannolies

My husband is Italian and his family loves Cannolies.  There is no comparison in flavor when you make these from scratch.  The shells are fantastic when they are homemade.  My nephew Alessandro whispered in my ear during the Christmas Holiday that these are the best Cannolies he ever had.  He lives in a neighborhood in Queens, New York that has some of the finest bakeries in town.  He know his cannolies!
Cannoli Shells 

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon unsweeten baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup sweet Marsala or any white or red wine
1 large egg, separated (only the egg white)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying about 2 quarts

Note - If you want chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder and a little more wine until you have workable dough. I use Dutch Process Cocoa for a darker rich dough. 

Assembly of Shells:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt.

Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16" to 1/8” thick and in the shape of a 13x16 rectangle. 

Cut out 5-inch circles with a round cookie cutter. I use a fluted round cutter.

Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrank a little.

Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes only once, as you continue to fry the tubes will be oiled from frying.   Wrap a dough oval circle around tube form.  Dab a little egg white to seal where the dough overlaps.  Let dry for a few minutes to seal.  Press down on seal with fingers to smooth out seal.  When frying this should insure that the shell does not open.  

In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F on a deep fry thermometer.   Have ready sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags. Keep a close eye on oil temperature.  It must stay at a steady temperature.  You do not want to over brown the shells.  If oil is not hot enough you will not get the bubbly cannoli surface that is typical of the cannoli shell. 

Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not over crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

Lift a cannoli tube with a large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Be very careful until  you get the hang of it.  Remember the tube is filled with oil and you must drain it back into pot filled with hot oil.  Place the tube on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes.

While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. I like using my hands but be careful.  Twist slightly to get the cannoli shell to release.   Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.  I make these even a week ahead of time.  Just cover loosely with paper towels.  I also dust mine with powder sugar.  You do want air to flow around the shells to dry them out.  Keep in a safe place away from pets and critters.  

Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.


2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
¼ cup ricotta (full fat)
¼ cup cream cheese (full fat)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup finely chopped cranberries
¼ cup finely chopped candied orange
¼ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup to 1 and ½ cup powder sugar (I like my filling not to sweet)

Cream butter and cheeses until smooth add cinnamon and powder sugar.  Mix well.  Add cranberries, candied orange and mini chocolate chips.  I use a pastry bag with large star tip to fill my cannolies. You can do this a few hours in advance.  Dust generously with powder sugar. 

Powder sugar for dusting

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