a-to-z-letters-cHave you ever heard of the phrase ‘wrapped up like a cannoli’?  If you have, then odds are you are of Sicilian decent or hung around with someone whose grandparents or parents were from Sicily.  Well, maybe not, in my household, the term is used a lot when we’re cuddling with my son while he’s wrapped up in his blanket.  Believe it or not, it was his father, who is of Sicilian decent, who uses that term in the most affectionate way.

A cannoli is an Italian desert.  This treat is a rich filling of cream or fruit, though usually has ricotta  wrapped up in fried pastry.  Here in America this desert is usually quite decadent with chocolate drizzled or a nice thick creme just oozing out the open ends.  Typical of Americans, we think of this dessert as basic Italian fare, but it isn’t, it’s Sicilian in nature and roots.

According Wikipedia, the history of the Cannoli is as follows:  Cannoli comes from the Palermo area and were historically prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol; one legend assigns their origin to the harem of Caltanissetta. The desert eventually became a year-round staple throughout Italy.


The recipe:


4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup white wine
shortening, for frying


4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup finely chopped maraschino cherry
1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream, optional


To make the shells, mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Cut in butter.  Add egg yolks; stir with a fork.  Stir in wine, 1 tablespoon at a time, with a fork until dough clings together.  Form a ball with the dough and let stand for 30 minutes.  Roll dough almost paper thin, on a well-floured surface.  Using the rim of a margarita glass (about 3-4 inches across), make circle imprints into rolled dough.  Using a paring knife, make sure the circles are cut all the way through.  Roll each circle of dough around a metal cannoli tube, overlapping the ends and press to seal, flaring out the edges slightly.  Fry one or two at a time in hot melted shortening (about 360°F) for approximately 1 minute, turning to brown all sides.  Remove from hot grease and drain on paper towels, seam side down.  Let cool a minute or two before trying to remove metal tube.  To remove the tube hold cannoli shell down on the paper towel and carefully slide the tube out one end.  Leave cannoli shells on paper towel, seam side down to cool completely.

~NOTE~Shells can be stored in airtight containers and made several days prior to filling.

For filling, drain ricotta cheese over cheesecloth if ricotta is watery.  Combine ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until combined.  Squeeze Maraschino cherries with paper towels to remove all liquid.  (If you don’t squeeze them good, you will have a pink water filling!).  Stir in cherries and chocolate chips into the ricotta mixture, being careful not to over mix.  For a lighter filling, you may whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to form stiff peaks, and fold into filling mixture at this step.  Chill filling for about 30 minutes before piping into cooled cannoli shells.  You may garnish the cannoli by sprinkling powdered sugar on top.  Whipped cream, a cherry, and shaved chocolate can also be used to garnish the top.  Keep refrigerated until time of serving.

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5 thoughts on “C is for Cannoli #atozchallenge

  1. Whenever I see the word “cannoli,” I will always think of The Godfather first: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” 🙂

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