November’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Cannoli

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.

Cannoli are  tube-shaped deep fried pastry shells usually containing marsala wine and traditionally filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. It originated in Palermo, Sicily and was thought to be a symbol of fertility.

I’ve never had cannoli before although I’m familiar with this Italian sweet through Food network, I saw it first on Gale Gand’s Sweet Dreams, where she made cannoli with pistachio-speckled creamy filling oozing out of both ends..oohh..it really made my mouth water. I never thought then that one day I would make cannoli from scratch.

Making the Daring Bakers’ Challenge

Lisa’s post in the DB forum about this pastry  sound very doable, with thorough explanation and directions plus helpful links on how to do it..it gave me confidence that I can do it too.

canneloni

I don’t have cannoli forms, good thing I have canneloni pasta tubes though, I wrapped about 4 pieces in aluminum foil ( you have to do this, the first time I tried frying one with out the foil, the cannoli stuck to the canneloni shell) and used it as my cannoli mold. It worked great, I was able to re-use each pasta shell for about 2-3 times before it finally broke, it became brittle from the hot oil.

I halved the recipe for the shell because it’s way too many cannoli for a family of four. I used the smallest saucepan so I would not use too much oil. I was able to make about 13 cannoli, I ruined the first one;   I filled about 5 pieces  with coffee flavored creamcheese filling ala tiramisu.

It was absolutely delicious, if only I could eat more than one, I would; but as I got older, without fail, I always get plegm after eating anything with cream. I probably shouldn’t be consuming it (or make it in the first place) but they are just too yummy and tempting and I am only human. ;)

The rest of the shell we just ate as is , they were delicious even without any filling, it tastes like sugar cones we use for ice cream and not unlike our local sweet delicacy from Ilo-Ilo – barquillos it’s a pastry filled with cream and ground peanuts much like cannoli, only longer and slimmer and not as decadent.

ball_of_cannoli_dough cannoli_dough_rolling
cannoli_dough_cutting rolling_forming_the_cannoli

rolling , cutting and forming the cannoli tubes

I got a good work out for my arms rolling the dough but I love it because it did not stick to my counter and it smelled wonderful. I followed Lisa’s direction as faithfully as I could; I didn’t have round cutters though so I just used my flower-shaped cookie cutter. I rolled it as thinly as possible, I did have blisters on my pastry tubes when I deep-fried it..yay!

tiramisu-_filling_cannoli
For the filling, I decided to make a quick tiramisu filling using cream cheese and cream,  flavored with coffee..  I would use Kahlua if I could but I can’t have any alcohol  ( allergy) so I used instant coffee melted with little water instead.
cannoli_tubes
deep-fried cannoli tubes
cannoli_tiramisu_1
coffee flavored cannoli. I should have waited for a few more minutes before I piped the filling in so it won’t melt as you can see in the photo.
Please visit other Daring Bakers and their yummy cannoli at the Daring Kitchen!


RECIPE FOR CANNOLI

Equipment:

Cannoli forms/tubes – optional, but recommended if making traditional shaped cannoli. Dried cannelloni pasta tubes work just as well!
Deep, heavy saucepan, enough to hold at least 2-3-inches of oil or deep fryer
Deep fat frying thermometer. although the bread cube or bit of dough test will work fine.
Metal tongs
Brass or wire skimmer OR large slotted spoon
Pastry bag with large star or plain tip, but a snipped ziplock bag, butter knife or teaspoon will work fine.
Cooling rack
Paper bags or paper towels
Pastry Brush
Cheesecloth
Sieve or fine wire mesh strainer
Electric Mixer, stand or hand, optional, as mixing the filling with a spoon is fine.
Food Processor or Stand Mixer – also optional, since you can make the dough by hand, although it takes more time.
Rolling pin and/or Pasta roller/machine
Pastry or cutting board
Round cutters – The dough can also be cut into squares and rolled around the cannoli tube prior to frying. If making a stacked cannoli, any shaped cutter is fine, as well as a sharp knife.
Mixing bowl and wooden spoon if mixing filling by hand
Plastic Wrap/Clingfilm
Tea towels or just cloth towels

CANNOLI SHELLS
Lidisano’s recipe

2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder –I replaced this with instant coffeee powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar

Note – If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

CANNOLI FILLING
2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
1. 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 a 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.

2 .  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 (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3.   Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4.  In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

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

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or 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. Place the tube on paper towels or bags 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. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. 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.

ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:
1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

My  Quick Tiramisu Filling

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 ounces all-purpose cream
5 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coffee powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

In a bowl of electric mixer, whip the cream with 2 tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form, transfer this to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. In the mixing bowl, beat creamcheese until smooth, add sugar and a dissoved coffee, beat until fully incorporated. Combine coffee-creamcheese with the whipped cream, chill for at least half an hour before transferring it to a pastry bag fitted with a star nozzle, use it to fill the cannoli tubes.

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