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Daring Bakers - 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.

I almost thought there was no Daring Bakers Challenge this month.  When I checked the site to see what the November challenge was, it said "Sorry all, we're not baking this month".  But that is because the challenge is cannoli.  Cannoli is an Italian dessert that is made of fried dough, formed into tubes, and filled with sweetened ricotta cheese.  So no, we are not baking, but we're still making a great dessert.

Cannoli are work, there is no question about that.  You must make the dough, roll it out, cut it into circles, wrap it around cannoli forms and deep fry them.  After they are cool, you pipe filling into them and decorate them. Lisa had a great suggestion, however, if you don't have cannoli forms but still would like a cannoli-like dessert:  you can simply roll out the dough, cut into squares and fry.  You then layer the squares and filling, like a Napolean.  It makes it just a little simpler.  

If I have one great tip to give you about making cannoli, it is to break out your pasta rollers.  Really.  The dough must be rolled very thin in order to fry correctly and the pasta rollers make it a hundred times easier. It's very hard to roll out the dough as thin as you can get it through your pasta rollers.  Behold:

Above, on the left, is the dough I rolled out with a rolling pin and on the right is the dough I put through my pasta rollers.  I don't know if you can tell, but the dough on the right is much thinner and it took me a fraction of the time.  

Also, when you gather up your scraps to roll out again, if you put these through the pasta rollers, it is so much easier.  The scraps are more difficult to use if using a rolling pin.   Trust me.

For the filling, you really can use anything you want.  Traditionally, the cannoli are stuffed with a sweetened ricotta mixture.  I put Grand Marnier, orange zest and mini chocolate chips in mine.  I also added mascarpone cheese.  You can do anything you like.

If you need a resource to buy cannoli forms, these forms are from Fox Run and they are a great price.




for a printable recipe, click here
makes 22 - 24 4" cannoli



  • 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)

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 and a little more wine until you have a workable dough.

For the Filling:
  • 30 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 3 tablespoons (or to taste) of confectioner's sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips



Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Chill until ready to use.

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.

Chocolate candy melts
mini chocolate chips
chopped pistachio nuts

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).   I used pasta rollers to roll out my dough - it is so much easier and much faster.  The dough must be thin to fry up correctly.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes. Roll a dough round 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 355°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.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. I fried only two at a time. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly. Roll them gently with tongs or a wired skimmer so 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. Do not let cannoli get too brown. Take them out just as they become golden.  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. Do not let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. 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:
If you are going to dip the ends of the cannoli into chocolate, melt the chocolate in the microwave and dip the ends and set aside to harden up.  Then go on to fill the shells.

Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.  Pipe filling into cannoli from both ends.  Dip the ricotta at the ends of the tubes into your nuts of chocolate chips.  Dust with confectioners sugar, if you like.

Serve immediately.  Once cannoli are filled the shells will eventually become a little soggy if you don't eat them right away.  

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Reader Comments (19)

big cannoli fan here--now you've got me inspired!!

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

in these days I was wondering with my mom if it was possible to send you a box with cannoli's shells, we was wondering if they would be broken during the shipment... well, you really impressed us.
Your cannoli are perfect!! I tought that you wasn't very able to make them!!!

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfabio

looks fantastic! I didnt do this months challenge but I am bummed now that I see yours! Hope you had a fabulous thanksgiving! xoxo

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

What a sight! Just beautiful Elaine. You could box these up and sell them. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving.

November 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermarie

The BEST and I mean the BEST cannoli I have seen on any blog (I have seen a few 100 now) you are the best fryer ever well done and the final cannoli look perfect and so delicious. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

November 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAudax Artifex

Elaine, I was so excited to see this recipe. I have been on the Cannoli search since I left NYC! For me, though, it is the texture of the Cannoli cream that is the problem. Cannoli cream should be smooth, no sense of 'grit' and it should go into a pastry tube for piping. What did I do wrong? My crema was definitely too loose and would 'puddle' if i even tried to put it into a tube. It also had that 'grit' in it. My brother just brought me cannolis from some wonderful Italian NYC bakeries so I could really compare them: it is not in your recipe, but, I suspect, my technique! Help. These are our family favorite pastries since childhood. I would love to make them. Correctly! Auguri.

November 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

I agree 100% about the pasta machine making it easier... I was so glad I had one, and glad to find another use for it since I only make fresh pasta 2 or 3 times a year. I wish I had broken down and bought some molds though- I used pasta shells as molds and it was a little rough going.

November 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternoelle {simmer down!}

You did a wonderful job on this challenge. The cannoli look amazing.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranda

From The Italian Dish:

Allison: I don't know why your ricotta was so loose - was it room temperature? Did you mix it with mascarpone cheese? Maybe try refrigerating it and also a lot of people will drain the ricotta to get rid of any moisture - set it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl in the refrigerator all night. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top and a towel and then something heavy on top to press down on the ricotta. You should get all excess moisture out that way. Also, I have read where some people whip their ricotta in a mixer, helping to remove some grittiness. Hope this helps!

November 30, 2009 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Thanks so much. I think I need to drain that ricotta overnight. It was also room temp. and it firmed up a bit in the refrigerator, but it was still formless. The drying of the ricotta will help, I am sure. (It would also help if I made my own ricotta-easy-but I tend to be a little lazy! I think it will give a better product. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for this absolutely wonderful site/blog/inspiration.

November 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

These cannoli are just perfect. What an excellent job you did!

December 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulia @ Mélanger

WOW!! Your cannoli are some of the best I've ever seen, and thats including Italian pastry shops! Your shells are blistery perfection! How did I miss your cannoli post? In any event, you should have hosted this challenge as you demonstrated perfectly how thin this dough needs to be to achieve a light and crispy shell - one that enhances the filling. Would you believe I rolled my dough by hand and actually managed to get it close to the thinness needed? However, when compared to yours, one can see what a difference a pasta roller would have made..but hey..I needed some arm toning..LOL

Having said all that..thanks for taking part in my challenge! Love your blog and gorgeous photos!

December 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

From The Italian Dish:

Thanks, Lisa! The pasta rollers are definitely the way to go! Thanks for hosting the challenge.

December 9, 2009 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

OMG, someone pinch me because I think I have died and gone to heaven, I LOVE Cannolis.

These look to die for ;-)


December 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThatsSoYummy

oh lord these look good. i've never made cannolis but i love to eat them. you can so easily get a really badly made cannoli but these look crispy and delicious. i love the pistachios.

December 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwe are never full

This blog is amazing! I am Italian too... keep up the good work! :-)

I haven't tasted this kind of dessert, but I've heard is delicious, and actually it looks like that. I'd add a few pinkberry toppings but is just an idea... I'm gonna go to supermarket to buy viagra and then I'll come back home to prepare it.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAxel

Hi there, I'm sure this recipe is a winner, but would just like to point out that 250grms is not 16ounces but just over 8 ounces. I was about to attempt this recipe but noticed this error. So many recipes online are in american cup sizes and it was great to find a recipe that gave both . I have looked at many conversion tables that give different amounts per cup so get a little confused and mistrusting of cup measurements. Why can't all recipes be given in grams or pounds and ounces for us in Europe especially as they are posted worldwide. Rant now over and will try this recipe adjusting the flour quantity of course, and hope all thje other quantities are correct.

December 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterR.Pacw

A great basic recipe looks fantastic! thanks for shared the post such a impressive post regarding Daring Bakers Cannoli.

April 2, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBest Cannoli Pie

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