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Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers' Cannoli

Interesting enough that the November DB challenge came with Cannoli that is pretty much about deep frying. So it is a baking challenge that doesn’t really require baking. More like cooking, but then it is also can’t be catagorized as cooking because it isn’t like making a dish. It is basically a dessert. So in that way, we can all call it a unique challenge – like something interesting every once in a while.

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.

The look of Cannoli reminds me so much of the past Indian Dosas. Made some dessert dosas rolled and filled with Crème Patissiere and fruits. And they are both easy to make and surprisingly very delicious when they are matched with the correct filling. Frankly speaking, I said easy because basically I got ample guidance from the forum – failures and corrections that other members made and tips and advice provided. These are invaluable source of information especially for members who are very limited time in hand. So as I had followed through the forum almost every day or every chance I had no single problem making Cannoli. The shells puffed, blistered and tasted good.

And I didn’t even use Marsala Wine, White or Red Wine. I was using Fruit Wine with Rose flavor instead. Happened that it was the only wine available in my kitchen and some member had mentioned about using grape juice or something like that. Well, it turned out fine. I was so glad. I am so grateful to Lisa for hosting this challenge and introducing us to this Jewel of Sicily. And also lots of gratitute to the forum for lightening up the way to the Cannoli Heaven!

So pleased I managed to make Cannoli in many versions: cannoli original form, cup form with kiwi fruit and peach chunk topping, and millefeuille canolli with peach topping. Delicious, I definitely will make it again and again! Maybe next time will make the savoury cannoli.

Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli

Most important equipment: Metal or wooden cannoli forms/tubes or anything with the shape of batong with diameter of 4 inch, 5 diameter cookie cutter and pin roll.

1. Shells

- 2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa 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

- 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.
- 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.

- 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, 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.
- 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.

- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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

- Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
- In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

3. Assemble

- 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.

- 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.

Useful tips:
- The key to crispy and blistered shells is thin dough, so try to roll dough as thin as you can.
- Rolled dough circles will shrink. So if you are aiming for 4 inch circles, cut dough into 5 inch.
- While wrapping dough circles into the tube form, do not press too tight or else it will be difficult to slide it off after fried.
- Keep the right frying temperature. Not hot enough, the shells will not cook properly and turn greasy. Too hot, the shells will be burnt.


  1. As always I'm in love with your result. The shells tourned out beautiful :) Can I have one - with that gorgeaus fillin? ;) Cheers from rainy, rainy, rainy Ireland!

  2. Gorgeous Kris! They just look so yummy =D. Great job!

  3. Congrats on the beautiful cannoli... I loved all three of the presentations.

  4. wow this pictures are breath taking. I love your shells, all that blistering, they look perfect.

  5. Gees you sure know how to take wonderous photographs they are so clear and professional and your presentation is excellent as well. And clearly you enjoyed yourself on this 'non-baking' challenge. Superb fillings and flavour combination. You are a very talented baker. Bravo bravo bravo. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  6. tout est superbe et magnifiquement présenté ! bravo :)

  7. LIZ LIZ LIZ..OMG, you so rocked this!! Not only do your cannoli, cannoli tartlets and cannolipoleons look and sound absolutely amazing, but your photos are freakin' spectacular! Also, I love the new layout of your site..perfect theme to showcase your amazing photography! I'm so glad you were able to take part in my challenge, chicky! *hugs*

  8. Amazing job
    your cannoli looks amazing
    beautiful pictures.

  9. Great creations! All versions look irresistible!



  10. Wow !! They are awesome..truly !!! I just loved all those fruity fillings..I will have to try some as I have a lot of shells left-over..

  11. Oh.. the kiwi-filled cups are just precious.. and the images are gorgeous. :)

  12. Beautiful cannoli. I like the different versions that you created.

  13. Gorgeous photographs of gorgeous cannoli! I love the side view of the flat, stacked version-WOW!

  14. Wow. Your photos are breath-taking! I love all the different shapes and hope to try this myself sometime.

  15. amazing how you made them into cup forms, that makes me want to redo mine all over again, LOL. Love how you piped the decorative ends of the round cannoli tubes. The millefeuille cannoli is too pretty to eat, but i'm sure they were delish!

  16. All your cannolis look gorgeous. I especially liked the little tartelettes with fruit.
    As usual your pictures are beautiful.

  17. Oh my!! Gorgeous, gorgeous photos and the cannoli, they are out of this world. Loved your fillings and shapes, very nicely done!

  18. Kris, do you realize I've had your page up for hours while I was out, meaning to comment later..and when I got home, forgot about it, until I restored my open Then I saw your comment, so it was like comment kismet lol

    Having said, you really covered the cannoli shell jackpot, from traditional to stacked to tartlets! I'm just speechless, Kris. I love the mega long cannolipoleon with the perfect dollops of filling, and those tartlets are so pretty and yummy looking. Plus, your traditional shells are blistery perfection.

    Don't even get me started on your photos! Did you ever consider food styling/photography along with your cooking and baking, as a career? You would be a major commodity!

    Thank you so much for 'deep frying AND baking' with me this month! I think, for those who claim it shouldn't be a DB challenge, I could say it was a pastry challenge, because, well, that's what it is, albeit deep

  19. Beautiful...and I'm sure Delicious too! :) May I ask how did you fry the tartlet shells??

  20. I must say you are a good photographer. All your pictures are so beautiful and very interesting recipes you have here. I must follow you~~~

  21. Such perfect cannoli, I love your cannoli tartlets! As always your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

  22. hi!! just found your blog and I love it! So simple and to the point... the point being delicious baked goods!!! Your desserts are INCREDIBLE looking! Can't wait to browse!
    -Mini Baker :)

  23. Jenny Tan: I didn't fry my tartlets. I baked them at 175C for 10 minutes. To avoid deformed shape due to blistering and puffing, use extra mould to press on the dough mould while baking. Happy try!!

    Sawadee from Thailand,

  24. You always have the most beautiful presentations! Like works of art!

  25. What awesome creations! All three versions look delicious and so neat! Great job!



  26. I've been craving for cannoli for long time... GOSH..!!! I must try this. :D

    Hi, Kris.. how are you? I bet everything running well. Glad to know it..

  27. Awesome job on your cannoli (baked & fried). Great presentation and pictures!

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  28. I love all the many variations you made! Everything looks simply delicious! I will have to make some later this month--I hope they look as good as yours. :)

  29. Good Morning :-) I just want to say congratulation ! I had a feeling for your red basket, and I was right. Again, congratulation Kris.

    Btw, did you just add more picture for Cannoli session ? ^__^

  30. Beautiful pictures and what a great variety of cannoli!

  31. beautiful photography and congratulations on your DMBLGIT win!

  32. Your cannoli looks amazing!
    What a beautiful result-
    Your photographs are always a pleasure to watch
    And I love the different variations you've made with the dough.
    (also a DB)