Holy Cannoli!

Friday, November 27, 2009

cannoli-2

When I was a little girl, one of my family’s weekly rituals was going to Mass at St. Clare’s on Sunday mornings and then stopping at Enrico’s Bakery on Morris Park Avenue afterwards for pastries.  We did this every Sunday without fail.  We’d get a big box filled with assorted treats like chocolate éclairs, napoleons and sflogliatelle.  The selection would change from week to week, depending on what looked good.  My brother and I each got to choose a few of our favorites.  I don’t remember what he chose, but I always picked the cannoli.  I adored those  crunchy, cookie-like tubes stuffed with an incredibly rich and luscious cream filling. I could barely survive the car ride home bursting with the anticipation of taking that first crispy, creamy bite!

After we moved to Florida, cannoli became nothing but a fond and wistful memory.  No one here had ever heard of a cannolo, much less knew how to make one.  So once in a while, my mother would make her own – and I would help.  They weren’t exactly the same as the ones from my beloved Enrico’s, but I loved them just the same.  Eventually, some Italians from New Jersey moved to town and opened up a little pastry shop right next door to our new church.  My parents were delighted and our Sunday morning tradition was reborn.  Unfortunately, Italians from New Jersey were better bakers than they were businesspeople.  After a few years they went out of business.  Sigh…  Since then, other pastry shops have come and gone…and come and gone.  But, I’ve always enjoyed them, and their cannoli, while they were here. 

cannoli-6

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I was pretty excited to see cannoli as this month’s Daring Bakers challenge.  This recipe was new to me though, and is a bit different from the one I’ve used in the past. My recipe has egg yolk in the shells and the DB recipe does not.  I made a batch of mini-cannoli using it and some larger-sized ones using my regular recipe.  While the shells using my recipe look much prettier, both batches of shells tasted very much the same, which was pretty darn good.  I should mention, however, that this could be because I used a pasta maker for the larger ones and thus, was able to get the dough much thinner.  To be honest, just rolling out this dough with a rolling pin is pretty easy to do and doesn’t require you to haul out your pasta maker, set it up and then have to clean it afterwards.

Cannoli Collage-2

Once you have all of your dough cut out and are ready to fry is where things get a little tricky, unless you have an extra set of hands to help you, which I didn’t.   I only had one set of one set of four cannoli forms, so I could only make four shells at a time.  Then, after frying each batch, I’d have to unmold the shells and set the burning hot forms aside to cool for several minutes before I could use them again.  Trust me, after you’ve made two or three dozen of those shells that way, the thrill is gone!

Here are what the cannoli shells looks right out of the fryer…

cannoli-8

But, be careful!  Make sure you seal the edges of the dough around the forms really well before you dunk them into the insanely hot oil.  If you don’t, they will explode and you’ll end up with some that look like these…

cannoli-7

Although making your own cannoli shells from scratch is time consuming and a bit tedious, making the cannoli cream filling is very simple.  You basically just have to whizz all of the ingredients up in a food processor or stand mixer.  I like to use a food processor because I think the ricotta comes out smoother that way.  You definitely don’t want grainy cannoli cream!

Cannoli Collage-1

I filled half of my cannoli with the traditional ricotta filling spiked with cinnamon and a few drops of pure orange oil.  I also mixed in some mini chocolate chips.  These are the cannoli I grew up on and as far as I’m concerned, nothing can beat them.  I filled the rest with a pumpkin cream filling made with ricotta, mascarpone, cinnamon, a little pumpkin puree and just a kiss of spiced rum.  I also dusted the ends with crushed pistachios.  I thought they were surprisingly good, but not as good as the original.

cannoli-1

 

 

51 responses to Holy Cannoli!

  1. On November 27, 2009 at 11:31pm, Margaret said...

    Your cannoli look fantastic. Have made, but haven’t posted. Wish mine were as pretty as yours.

  2. On November 28, 2009 at 12:02am, Lys said...

    Cannolis are my absolute fave italian pastry and you are absolutely correct that finding them in Fla. is pretty hard (but Fresh Market does have them). Thankfully in Philly at the Italian Market, they are only a quick jaunt away.

    I might have to try to make these – especially the pumpkin ones :)

    • On November 28, 2009 at 1:28pm, Susan said...

      Hmmph! You lucky duck! Don’t rub it in! ;)

  3. On November 28, 2009 at 1:42am, Memoria said...

    Wow, all of these cannoli are beautiful! I enjoyed reading about your fond memories of eating them.

  4. On November 28, 2009 at 2:43am, laura said...

    oh Susan! those look so so good missed it again this month! darn it I’m gonna get kicked out :D

    • On November 28, 2009 at 1:29pm, Susan said...

      Lol! Next month I’m gonna send you a reminder! ;)

  5. On November 28, 2009 at 3:07am, Manggy said...

    Ah! I thought you would use the pasta machine, but kudos for doing it the ultra-traditional way. These look way better than the grocery store bakery ones I got at Noo Joisey! :)

    • On November 28, 2009 at 1:33pm, Susan said...

      I did use the pasta machine for the larger ones, but the dough kept sticking and i got fed up with it! Noo Joisey ain’t got nothing on me! ;)

  6. On November 28, 2009 at 3:22am, nina said...

    Ever thought that you could open that little pastry shop on the corner of some busy street…you sure will make a killing with these babies!!

    • On November 28, 2009 at 1:35pm, Susan said...

      Sigh….Some day, Nina. some day….

  7. On November 28, 2009 at 4:29am, thecoffeesnob said...

    These sound really scary to make with all that dunking into hot oil but they do sound wonderful and look just about perfect!

  8. On November 28, 2009 at 8:05am, Ciaochowlinda said...

    I always go for the cannoli too, out of all the Italian pastries. But they MUST be freshly filled, right? I haven’t made them in years but I am getting inspiration from yours and all the others out there right now.

  9. On November 28, 2009 at 8:25am, Rosa said...

    Your cannoli are fabulous! So perfect and droolworthy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  10. On November 28, 2009 at 10:11am, Natalie said...

    Wow these look delicious! I really like these. I m lucky though since I find these in any cafeteria ,pastry shop here is. Must be cause we re so close to Italy that we have the same traditions .
    Very well done. These look better than those found in pastry shops :)

    • On November 28, 2009 at 1:34pm, Susan said...

      You ARE lucky! We currently have only one pastry shop in town that makes these well. And, my cream filling is better than theirs! ;)

  11. On November 28, 2009 at 10:31am, Jennifer said...

    Your cannoli are beautiful!!!!!!

  12. On November 28, 2009 at 10:48am, Cathy said...

    Beautiful looking cannoli – it’s making me contemplate driving through the snow to the Italian bakery to get some…

  13. On November 28, 2009 at 11:14am, CookiePie said...

    Gorgeous cannoli!!!

  14. On November 28, 2009 at 11:53am, patsy said...

    Wow! They look like they came from an amazing bakery! Wish I could try one now!

  15. On November 28, 2009 at 12:14pm, sara said...

    Gorgeous! These look really delicious. :)

  16. On November 28, 2009 at 12:16pm, ann marie said...

    now you are making me miss isgros!!!

    i cant go thru the cannoli shell process. too much for me. but i make a cannoli cream cupcake that everyone freaks out over. regular vanilla light cupcake recipe, lightly drenched in rum simple syrup, filled and topped with a squirt and swirl of cannoli cream (with mini choco chips in it) and topped with chopped pistachios and a half a glaceed cherry. a perfect green and red christmas cupcake.

    • On November 28, 2009 at 1:36pm, Susan said...

      Those cupcakes sound like a wonderful idea! I’ve got lots of leftover filling too! :D

  17. On November 28, 2009 at 2:48pm, shelly (cookies and cups) said...

    Oh wow! I can’t even imagine how good these were! I love canolli’s and living in NJ we have many Italian bakeries around that do them well, also the city is not too far and I can get my cannoli fix in little italy, but I can only imagine that homemade filling and homemade shells were absolutely divine!

  18. On November 28, 2009 at 2:57pm, Judy said...

    Yours looks so pretty Susan! Loved this challenge as Cannolis are probably my favorite dessert!

  19. On November 28, 2009 at 6:34pm, Marcellina said...

    Gorgeous cannoli! Your filling look so lucious. I also remember a similar tradition while in Calabria, Italy when I was young. A cart filled with Italian pastries to buy would be push around the streets after church on a Sunday. I loved those pastries and still remember it well even though I was only 6 or 7 years old.

  20. On November 28, 2009 at 7:21pm, Ivonne said...

    That’s such a sweet memory! Your cannoli pics are gorgeous!

  21. On November 28, 2009 at 7:47pm, Michelle said...

    Positively gorgeous! I’m bummed that time ran out on me this month!!

  22. On November 28, 2009 at 9:48pm, The Food Hunter said...

    I love cannoli! Your pumpkin one looks delicious.

  23. On November 28, 2009 at 10:42pm, ingrid said...

    They look fantastic, Susan! Sounds like your area needs a good bakery. Maybe you should think about it! :)

    Btw, I grew up in the Bronx and have eaten at restaurants and gone to some of the bakeries in that area. Unlike yourself I wish now I had paid more attention and tried more of the foods offered when I lived in NY.
    ~ingrid

  24. On November 28, 2009 at 11:48pm, Lisa said...

    Susan..just as I expected, your cannoli turned out gorgeous, perfect, delectably mouth watering. I knew you KNEW cannoli, and there was no way this challenge would EVER fail for you :) I love the dusting of pistachio on the pumpkin cannoli, and your photos are to die for. Also, fantastic, golden blistery shells! Having said that..I can’t thank you enough for your little ‘tough love’ talk to those who were a tad persnickety about this challenge. You definitely got them on the right track, and I can’t thank you enough! Thank you so much for deep frying with me this month! :D

  25. On November 29, 2009 at 7:39am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Beautiful job. I always thought cannoli would be hard to make, but you certainly made them look easy.

    It’s tough being away from the place you grew up and finding that you can’t get your favorite local specialties anymore. I think it’s especially tough for New Yorkers who leave NY. I remember in college in Lancaster County, PA the campus had its own bakery that made “cannoli” but they were just tubular puff pastry shells filled with frosting. They weren’t bad, but they were not cannoli.

  26. On November 29, 2009 at 11:48am, Ivy said...

    Susan, these look amazing. I bet you would make a fortune selling cannoli.

  27. On November 29, 2009 at 1:30pm, Lucy said...

    Your cannoli look fantastic – the chocolate dipped one has me starving! Never tried cannoli before but most definitely tempted now :D

  28. On November 29, 2009 at 2:35pm, Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

    Haha, thanks for showing us your outtakes. The rest look amazing though. I especially like the last photo.

  29. On November 29, 2009 at 7:00pm, Claudia said...

    Enjoyed your childhood experience with cannoli. I first tried them at an Italian restaurant, when we lived in Honolulu. Here on the Big Island, no more cannoli, unfortunately. I just ordered 6 forms, so now will be able to make my own. And, there’s all these lovely recipes to help in the process.

  30. On November 30, 2009 at 8:05am, Bellini Valli said...

    As a kid my dad used to make the British version of a cannoli…brandy snaps, rolled and then stuffed with whipped cream. Not as diversified as a cannoli with all of their possibilites which is evident by all the DB posts.

  31. On November 30, 2009 at 9:16am, Audax Artifex said...

    Wonderful blistering and that filling looks so delicious and white well done and bravo. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  32. On November 30, 2009 at 11:56am, anda said...

    Your cannoli look perfect.

  33. On November 30, 2009 at 6:24pm, The Duo Dishes said...

    As usual, your creations are perfecto. Though we’ve had more pumpkin than one should eat in the last month, that pumpkin cannoli sounds great.

  34. On November 30, 2009 at 9:51pm, sheba said...

    the work of a genius..they look nothing short of perfect

  35. On December 01, 2009 at 3:01pm, Michelle said...

    You couldn’t find any better than these in an Italian bakery. They are gorgeous. I agree with you… you need the classic filling with the mini chips in there. Wish I had one right now. : )
    I made cannoli ice cream a while back and I swear you’d think you were eating a frozen cannoli. It was amazing. Great job with the challenge!

  36. On December 01, 2009 at 5:43pm, Nicole Spasiano said...

    these look fantastic!
    When I would visit my grandparents in Jersey I would get sfogliatelles and cannolis. my cannoli’s always had to have chocolate chips, and the chips had to be mixed into the cream. Amazing. They are not even the same in Boston. NY and NJ have the best!

  37. On December 01, 2009 at 6:18pm, Dawn@CocinaSavant said...

    these look incredible! you make some the most beautiful desserts :) this sounds like it was a fun challenge, i can’t believe i had to skip out on it! great job though!!!

  38. On December 02, 2009 at 9:58am, LoveFeast Table said...

    Wow! Beautiful, amazing pictures!! And, I’m quite sure it tastes as good as it looks!

  39. On December 02, 2009 at 11:09am, Debbie said...

    Susan they look delicious! I too love cannoli. We used to have them on Sunday’s after our dinner while I was growing up along with rainbow cookies! I live down in Virginia (originally from Long Island) and there are no bake shops here to compare to the ones up north. I can’t understand why no one opens up a real Italian bakery here….

  40. On December 02, 2009 at 12:50pm, Patti said...

    Yummy !!!

  41. On December 05, 2009 at 1:04am, Chez Us said...

    Holy Cannoli is correct, Susan, these are beautiful!! I loved this challenge and was so happy to know that I could make them & don’t have to wait to hit Mike’s in Boston, twice a year!! Love the pumpkin! :)

  42. On December 05, 2009 at 2:37am, berrylovely said...

    Your cannoli look really delicious, especially the last picture looks very creamy. Yummy!

  43. On December 09, 2009 at 10:36am, Jeff said...

    Awesome job and giving me the motivation to try. One of those things I love but never have the patience to make. Which is odd too because I love everything that involves a deep fryer.

    Like the pumpkin idea too!

  44. On January 24, 2011 at 10:13am, natalie straley said...

    I loved reading your blog. I come from an Italian family and have not found a real cannoli since moving down south….yours look mouth watering…as a mother of three and attorney (in a former life as well) I am going to do my best to whip up a few myself. Thanks for your encouragement….how did you find the time to learn to do this – thanks for the inspiration???

  45. On November 22, 2012 at 6:13am, Laura said...

    My cannoli filling is grainy and I followed your directions. Help!

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kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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