Or any other kind of photographer for that matter. Sure, I love taking photos with my Canon T1i, but the type of camera you use doesn’t make a huge impact on the results if you don’t know how to a. use it properly or b. set up your photo. In addition to these things, I mostly use my iPhone to photograph things for my blog because it’s easy to just email them to myself straight from the device and open it on the computer. To be perfectly honest, a camera is a little less hassle-free when it comes to uploading pictures. Anyway, with these things in mind, I present to you my Less-Than-Perfect Cannoli!
I was suddenly inspired to attempt these when I made pasta last night. I found a recipe on Pinterest earlier that day and decided to try it out. Even lacking cannoli tubes didn’t stop me. I found that the handle of a whisk is a semi-adequate replacement for these, and begun.
The recipe from Parsley, Sage & Sweet (via Pinterest) is as follows:
2 cups all purpose flour (250 g)
2 T sugar (28 g)
1 t unsweetened cocoa powder (5 g) The recipe notes you can also use freshly ground or instant coffee in addition to the cocoa or instead of it to give shells more flavor in the “traditional Sicilian style.”
1/2 t ground cinnamon (1.15 g)
1/2 t salt (3 g)
3 T vegetable or olive oil (42 g)
1 t white wine vinegar (5 g/0.18 fl. oz)
1/2 cup (approximately) sweet Marsala or any other wine (59 g/4 fl.oz) I used white cooking wine because there weren’t any open wine bottles around
1 egg white
2 lbs. ricotta cheese
1 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (160 g)
1/2 t ground cinnamon (1.15 g)
1 t vanilla extract or beans from one vanilla bean (0.15 g)
3 T good quality chocolate, chopped (28 g)
2 T chopped, candied orange peel or orange zest (0.42 g)
3 T toasted, finely chopped pistachios
(I halved the recipe)
With an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in oil, vinegar, and enough wine to make dough soft (but not too sticky)
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape into a ball and let rest in fridge for at least 2 hours to overnight. I hate letting things rest in the fridge, so I switched between the fridge and freezer, which probably didn’t help at all. My dough was still fairly soft, but seemed to work out fine.
Start heating your frying oil, two to four inches deep. make sure your vessel for the oil has higher sides to minimize splashing and burns and over-bubbling.
Flour your work surface and roll dough VERY thin. I’m talking cardstock paper or thinner. I read in this post that good, crispy cannoli shells blister (bubbles and things), but they can’t do this if they’re too thick.
From this paper thin dough, cut circles between four and six inches in diameter. I don’t have cutters like that, so I just pressed them with a five inch Tupperware lid and that worked fine. Roll your circles into an oval and wrap them around an oiled cannoli tube, wooden dowel, whisk handle, etc.
This dough does dry out a bit, so the recipe suggests only using half the dough at a time… which I guess I did because I halved the recipe in the first place…
Anyway, when you roll the oval around your tube of choice, make sure that the open end is tightly sealed against the dough, otherwise it will open and you will get a cannoli shell pancake. No less delicious, but less tubular. The recipe says to dab the egg white on the overlapping edges, which I forgot to do, so that may help. If you’re worried about what way you roll it, think of it as an elongated diamond. Roll from one obtuse angle side (the long side) to the other. I actually did from acute to acute (the rounder ends), resulting in a little more overlapping, but it didn’t really affect anything.
Your oil should be about 375° F when you put your cannoli in. Since I only had one whisk handle that I deemed appropriately sized, I did one cannoli at a time, but you can do more as long as you DO NOT OVERCROWD THE POT.
To see if your oil is about the right temperature, stick a chopstick in. Vigorous bubbling is too hot, few bubbles is not hot enough, and steady bubbling is just right! (Okay, Goldilocks)
Drop your cannoli into the oil and turn it over to evenly fry when it is a light golden color. Fry until a little darker, but not too dark because your shell will continue to cook a little once it’s out of the oil. As soon as you take it out, remove the cannoli from the tube. I held the whisk end with an oven mitt and pulled the shell off with tongs. Let shell cool on paper towels.
The two flat ones came unrolled, but spread with the filling tasted just as good. Basically single layer cannoli stacks.
If you have leftover bits of dough, I recommend not re-rolling them, but cutting them into small-ish pieces and frying them as what I like to call, cannoli strips! Spread with a bit of filling, delicious.
Strain ricotta. All I did was line a wire/mesh-y strainer with a few layers of paper towels. I wrapped the cheese in paper towels and let it sit, switching out the towels every now and then. I got impatient and sort of squeezed it, which didn’t really help, but I wasn’t about to wait all night (which the recipe actually recommends…)
Beat your strained ricotta until smooth, then add in your sugar in increments, tasting until it is of desired sweetness. Beat in vanillaand cinnamon, then stir in some of your finely chopped garnishes. Chocolate (I used mini chips), pistachios, and orange zest were recommended. I think the zest is the most important garnish for the filling, personally. I had a cannoli this morning, and the filling was even better because the zest had a change to permeate the cream even more. Chill your cream.
Do not fill your cannoli until ready to serve unless you prefer your Italian pastries to be soggy.
To fill a cannoli, either fir your pastry bag with a small star tip that fits inside the cannoli, or if you don’t have a pastry bag (0r don’t feel like using it) cut the corner off a plastic bag and use that. Squeeze filling into the cannoli until half full, then turn the cannoli around and do the same on the other side. Press the ends (the cream) into your reserved garnishes. You can also melt chocolate, dip your unfilled cannoli end into it, let it set, then fill as normal, or drizzle chocolate on top, or really whatever floats your gondola.
Store cannoli shells in an air-tight container. Reheat them in a 350° oven for a few minutes when ready to use.
To see the original recipe, more tips, and a filling variation, click here
Stay tuned, my breakfast bread is rising as we speak!
Here’s a playlist I hope you’ll enjoy…
Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes
We Used to Be Friends by The Dandy Warhols
Fidelity by Regina Spektor
Us by Regina Spektor
Dark Blue by Jack’s Mannequin
Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap
Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne
Nine In The Afternoon by Panic! At The Disco
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant
Have a lovely day!