Homemade Cannolis

I have this theory that everyone has a dessert menu trump-item. It's that one dessert that, even if you walk into a place saying "I am not going to order any dessert," if you happen to see that item on the menu you are going to order it no matter what. Maybe it's hard to find, maybe you don't know how to make it yourself, or maybe you're just homing to find the ultimate version. For my brother it's bread pudding, for my dad it's creme brulee, for my sister it's chocolate cake, and for me it's cannolis. When I lived in NYC over the summer I had to set limits on how often I was allowed to walk by Little Italy because if I saw the cannolis it would be all over and I'd have to go buy three and eat them all. I've been trying to find ones in SLC that compare to the ones I had back east but I haven't found any yet. Let me know if you know of a place! In the mean time, I tried making my own and they were a pretty good substitute. My filling wasn't quite as smooth and my shells weren't evenly fried to perfection, but they definitely tasted like fresh cannolis. 

Filling

Recipe adapted from Food Network. Makes enough for 8-9 small cannolis + leftover

1 container (15 oz) whole milk ricotta, drained in cheesecloth overnight.

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 - 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips 

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

small pinch nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Shells

Recipe adapted from Food Network. Makes enough for 8-9 small cannolis

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 egg yolk, split the best you can. Save the rest--you'll need it for sealing the shells later

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of salt 

A couple notes: First, you will need cannoli shell forms or some other sort of heat-proof tube to wrap the cannoli shells around while they fry. I bought a set from a baking store in Savannah but I found a similar set here if you need some. Second, it is also super important to drain you ricotta overnight to remove extra liquid. Otherwise your cannoli fluid will be soupy and leak out of the shells. I've skipped this step when making cannoli dip before and trust me, no matter how much you think it doesn't matter, it does!

For the shells, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and spices. Add wet ingredients. Keep mixing until you get a sticky, homogenous dough, you may need to add some water if the dough is too dry. Roll into a ball, flour the surface and cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. 

For the filling, whip your whipping cream on a high speed until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, stir your drained ricotta, breaking it up, smoothing it. Fold the whipped whipping cream into the ricotta. Next add the powdered sugar followed by chocolate, zest, vanilla, and spices. Stir until everything is well incorporated and there are no powdered sugar clumps (alternatively, use a sifter to make this easier). 

Making the shells: using a generous amount of flour, roll out cannoli dough and cut out a circle using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter or glass. Use the rest of the egg to seal the shell around the mold. Seal it really well--completely blend together the edges so that they don't fall apart in the oil. Meanwhile, heat about 3 cups of canola or vegetable oil in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Test the oil by dropping in a tiny piece of dough to see if it's hot enough--the dough should sizzle and and be surrounded by bubbles when you drop it in. When the oil is hot use tongs to gently place one of the shells in the oil and let it fry for 1-2 minutes, constantly monitoring so it doesn't burn. When shells are golden brown remove them carefully using tongs and place on paper towel. Once cool enough to handle gently nudge the shell off the mold and repeat steps with the remaining dough. 

To decorate the shells I melted 1/2 a bar of dark and milk chocolate in the microwave (take it out to stir ever 15 seconds so it doesn't burn). Add a teaspoon of coconut oil or crisco which helps the chocolate harden on the shells. I also added chopped pistachios, dipping the shells in dark chocolate first. Let the shells harden for 20-30 minutes before filling them. 

Fill shells immediately before serving, otherwise they'll get soft sitting with the filling inside and you won't get that satisfying crunch when you bite into one. I just used a ziplock bag with the tip cut off and put the filling inside. Fill generously from both ends and serve! You can use the leftovers as cannoli dip and dip pieces of graham cracker, cookies, etc. Xx

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