Homemade Cannoli

May 19, 2016 § 5 Comments

It’s been so long since I updated my “Baking In A Tiny Kitchen” sidebar!  Too long, far too long!  (Although to be completely honest, I made these cannoli in Matt’s kitchen, which is not quite as tiny as mine, and also contains far fewer people at any given moment.  Seriously, this may be the first time I ever made a “slightly intimidating dessert” without my mother’s watchful eye.  Age 30’s been a real wild ride, folks.)

And while, yes, the cannoli were slightly intimidating to make, fear not.  If I can do it, you can do it.  You just need patience, confidence, and these nifty little things called cannoli tubes.

Here we go!

The recipe that follows is from chef Alex Guarnaschelli, on the Food Network’s site: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alexandra-guarnaschelli/homemade-cannoli-recipe.html.

Cannoli shells:
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

Step 1: In a medium bowl, I mixed together the flour, sugar and salt.  This is it!  I’m making cannolis.  The first step is the hardest!  Just kidding, this is an incredibly easy step.  No one can mess it up.

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Step 2: I cut the butter into small pieces and mixed it into the flour with my hands.  This took a little longer than using a pastry cutter, but I don’t know how well a cutter would have worked with the small pieces.  It’s really not a lot of butter.

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The recipe says to work the butter in with your fingers until the mixture becomes coarse and sandy.  I feel like this is one of the harder steps to describe on a blog for someone who might not work with dough very often.  I could tell just from the feeling that the butter was mixed enough.  My advice is that it doesn’t need to look perfect.  The butter will never evenly coat all the flour; it’s not supposed to.  Just get it good and mixed in there, make sure it’s coarse without being too lumpy, and go with your gut.

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Step 3: Add the egg yolk and the white wine. (*insert thumbs-up emoji here*) Those Italians, man.  The white wine is literally the only liquid in this dough.  The recipe calls for a 1/2 cup, but I felt like my dough was still too dry and crumbly, so I added a littleeee bit more… about a 1/4 cup worth.

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Once my dough had come together, I wrapped it lightly in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to rest while I made the ricotta filling and Matt prepared the skillet for frying.  (He was smoking chicken wings outside that day too… it was a 5-star food day for the both of us.)

For the ricotta filling, you will need:

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

Note: If your ricotta has an excess of liquid, make sure to drain it for at least 30 minutes over a strainer beforehand.

Step 4: In a medium bowl, I whisked the ricotta until smooth, then added the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and allspice.  I mixed that all together to form this pretty, speckled concoction.

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Step 5: In a small bowl on my electric mixer, I beat the heavy cream until it was stiff.  See those lovely peaks?

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Step 6: Fold the cream into the ricotta mixture.  I used a spatula to do this.  Fold it in there nice and gently, just like folding a sad little hand in poker.  Better luck next time, Ace of Spades.

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Step 7: Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  I may or may not have eaten a handful of them…  So little and delicious.  Zest the lemon exterior into the ricotta mixture as well.  A hint of lemon for some zing!

Put the ricotta mixture into the fridge and let it chill in there while you fry up those cannolis.  Things are about to get fun!

For rolling and frying the cannoli, you will need:

1 quart canola oil, for frying
Flour, for rolling
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Step 7: Get out the cannoli tubes!!  One of my favorite parts of baking is getting to use fun little implements like these guys.  (For my local readers: I got them at the Maines Food Source in Kingston.)

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Step 8: Make your egg wash first, because your hands are going to be all floury once you start rolling out the dough.  Just crack an egg into a bowl and lightly beat it.  Set the bowl to the side.

Step 9: I put Matt in charge of frying the cannolis, because he’s better at that than me, and plus I already have enough burns on my ladylike hands from baking. (From the Great Homemade Caramel Incident of ’14.)  So he heated up the oil in the skillet to 360 degrees, while I rolled out the dough.  I spread a layer of wax paper on the table, dusted it with flour, dusted the rolling pin with flour, and then rolled out the dough.  You want to make sure you roll it veryyy thin, like an 8th of an inch.  I don’t think I rolled my dough out thin enough; I would do it more next time.

Once the dough is rolled out thinly, use a round bowl or a cup to measure the cannoli rounds.  It should be 3-4 inches across.  I ended up using one of those “perfect egg” circles. (You know, one of these guys.)  It worked out great.  I cut the rounds and traced the edges with a knife to make sure they were cut cleanly.  Then I lifted a round (the dough should be fairly easy to handle without falling apart) and wrapped it around the cannoli tube, like so:

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Take a little bit of the egg wash and brush it onto the edges of the dough.  Squish it together gently, so that it’s sealed shut.  Flare the dough ends a little away from the cannoli tube, so that the oil can get in there and work its frying magic.

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Step 10: Matt gently dropped the cannoli tubes into the oil and used tongs to keep them submerged while the shells fried.  The general time was about 2-3 minutes in the oil.

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They should be a lovely golden-brown when you take them out, and have that signature “blistered” texture of cannoli. He used the tongs to hold one end of the tube and very gently slid the shell off and onto a plate.

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This is the more time-consuming part of making cannoli, because you can only fit so many tubes into the oil at once, then you have to wait a minute for them to cool down once they come out, before you can wrap the dough around them again.  Just be patient and have fun!  I suggest drinking some of the white wine during this process, and dancing to good music, and trying to keep the cat off the table.

(Note: You’ll have little bits and pieces of the dough left over from cutting it into rounds.  I found my dough was pliable enough to handle being rolled together again and I got a few more rounds from rolling the bits and pieces together and cutting them out.) 

Let the shells cool for a few minutes while you prepare the pistachios and chocolate for dipping.  (Note: this step isn’t in the recipe I followed, but it’s incredibly easy.)  You will need:

1 cup melted mini chocolate chips for dipping
Shelled and crushed pistachios for dipping

Step 11: Put your boyfriend to work shelling all the pistachios, since he was the one who insisted on having them, and you don’t even like nuts anyway.  If your boyfriend also does not like pistachios… congrats!  You get to skip this step. You don’t need those gross nuts anyway.  Once the pistachios are shelled, crush ’em up real good.  You can leave some decent-sized chunks, since they’ll adhere to the chocolate, but make sure to get some pistachio powder in there too.

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Step 12: Melt a cup of the mini chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  I set up a little dipping relay station, which is one of my favorite parts of baking.  It’s like playing with toys!  Or painting!  Get messy!

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Dip the shell into the chocolate, then into the pistachio bowl.  Carefully flip it around and dip the other end.  Set it on the wax paper to harden.  I put the shells in the fridge to harden while we ate dinner.  I think the cold-hardening process helps the nuts adhere more firmly to the chocolate than just letting them harden in the open air.

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Step 13:  Fill the shells with your ricotta mixture before you’re ready to serve them.  Since it was just the two of us, we filled about 6 cannoli.  (They’re little!  No judgment!)  I ran into a problem here, because I didn’t have a pastry bag tip big enough for the cannoli.  So I went back to my roots and used a ziploc bag with the one end snipped off.  That worked like a charm.  Hold the cannoli shell in your one hand and squeeze the filling in.

Once the filling is in them, serve right away.  Don’t fill them if you aren’t going to eat them soon… no one likes soggy cannoli!

You can dust them with powdered sugar to give them a pretty texture as well!  (Honestly we kind of forgot that step.)

And there you are!  Delicious homemade cannoli:

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Again, the recipe I followed can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alexandra-guarnaschelli/homemade-cannoli-recipe.html.

The only thing it doesn’t include is the chocolate and pistachio dipping part.  You got this, though!!

 

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