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
for the CANNOLI 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)
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
DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
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.