Mar 21, 2017

Classic Homemade Cannoli

Prep Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Homemade classic cannoli, the iconic Sicilian dessert has a flakey shell and ricotta and mascarpone filling with chocolate chips.

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Coming from New Jersey I have had my fair share of cannoli. The iconic Sicilian dessert is one of my favorites because it isn’t overly sweet – it’s flakey shell and ricotta and mascarpone filling with chocolate chips are the perfect mixture of crispy and creamy to end (or start if you’re like me) any meal.

Be sure to buy (or make) cannoli molds ahead of time so that you can make the shells. While you can always just pick up some pre-made shells at an Italian bakery, the shells really aren’t hard to make. Be sure the dough is rolled thin – I use a pasta roller to keep it even.

Classic Homemade Cannoli

classic homemade cannolis

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Ricotta – Ricotta is a mild, soft and creamy Italian cheese that is made from the leftover whey created when making mozzarella and other similar cheeses. The texture and look is similar to cottage cheese. When making the filling, be sure to drain the ricotta as much as possible, any residual water could water down the filling.
  • Mascarpone – This soft Italian double or triple cream cheese is rich and silky. While a cannoli is classically made with just a sweetened ricotta filling, I like to add mascarpone to add creaminess and a subtle sweetness.
  • White wine – Wine is added to the shells to add distinct flavor, and while Marsala wine is classically used, I use whatever dry white wine I have on hand. While I will use just about any white wine in a pinch I prefer cooking with Sauvignon blanc. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink!

How to Make Cannoli

For the shells:

  1. Make the dough. Add the flour, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, shortening, one egg and wine to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until well-combined and a smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes.
  2. Let the dough rest. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out so that it is 1/8-inch thick. The dough can also be rolled out thinly and evenly by putting the dough through a pasta machine set to the thickest setting (usually setting number 1).
  4. Cut the dough. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter cut circles out of the dough. Gently pull the dough into an oval 5-inches long. Repeat with the remaining dough, you may have to re-roll out the dough with the scraps. You should end up with about 12 ovals. In a small bowl whisk the remaining egg.
  5. Heat oil. Fill a wide heavy-bottom pot so it reaches 2″ up the side with canola oil and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350ºF.
  6. Wrap the dough around molds. Wrap one oval lengthwise loosely around once of the cannoli molds. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush one end of the shell with the egg wash. Pull the egg-brushed end over the other end and press them together to seal. Repeat with three more molds and shells.
  7. Fry the shells. Carefully lower one mold at a time into the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until the shells are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Carefully pull the dowels out when cool to the touch and repeat with the remaining dough.

For the filling:

  1. Make the filling. To make the filling, add the ricotta, mascarpone, powdered sugar and cinnamon to a medium-mixing bowl. Whisk together until just completely combined then stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

For assembly:

  1. Add the filling to a pastry bag. When ready to fill and serve the cannolis, add the cannoli cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large circle tip.
  2. Pipe the filling into the shells. Carefully insert the tip halfway into one shell and pipe the cream, pulling the tip out to fill all the way to the end. Insert the tip in the other side of the shell, to the center and pipe and pull again to completely fill the shell from end to end.
  3. Repeat and serve. Repeat with the remaining shells then dust the filled cannoli with powdered sugar.
homemade cannoli

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Classic Homemade Cannoli

Print Pin
Prep Time 1 hr 40 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Serves 1 dozen cannoli

Equipment:

  • 4 metal cannoli molds, or 4 wooden dowels cut to 6-inch long, 1-inch-diameter

Ingredients:

For the shells:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional, for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • ½ cup dry white wine

For the filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta, drained
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus additional for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Canola oil, as needed, for frying

Instructions:

For the shells:

  • Add the flour, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, shortening, one egg and wine to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until well-combined and a smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out so that it is 1/8-inch thick. The dough can also be rolled out thinly and evenly by putting the dough through a pasta machine set to the thickest setting (usually setting number 1).
  • Using a 4-inch cookie cutter cut circles out of the dough. Gently pull the dough into an oval 5-inches long. Repeat with the remaining dough, you may have to re-roll out the dough with the scraps. You should end up with about 12 ovals. In a small bowl whisk the remaining egg.
  • Fill a wide heavy-bottom pot so it reaches 2" up the side with canola oil and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350ºF (180ºC).
  • Wrap one oval lengthwise loosely around once of the cannoli molds. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush one end of the shell with the egg wash. Pull the egg-brushed end over the other end and press them together to seal. Repeat with three more molds and shells.
  • Carefully lower one mold at a time into the oil and fry, turning occasionally, until the shells are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Carefully pull the dowels out when cool to the touch and repeat with the remaining dough.

For the filling:

  • To make the filling, add the ricotta, mascarpone, powdered sugar and cinnamon to a medium-mixing bowl. Whisk together until just completely combined then stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

For assembly:

  • When ready to fill and serve the cannolis, add the cannoli cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large circle tip.
  • Carefully insert the tip halfway into one shell and pipe the cream, pulling the tip out to fill all the way to the end. Insert the tip in the other side of the shell, to the center and pipe and pull again to completely fill the shell from end to end.
  • Repeat with the remaining shells then dust the filled cannoli with powdered sugar.

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    • The shells are pretty sturdy and since they are a little thicker when they are fried they can hold up pretty well throughout the day! I like like filling mine as fresh as possible!

    • Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Then add the ricotta and add something heavy on top to drain. Do this until no liquid drips from the cheese – about 1 hour. Or twist the cheese cloth around the ricotta and squeeze it to drain quickly.

  1. We made cannoli a couple of weeks ago one day and then filled and served the next day. They were not crisp. I think they were crisp the day before when we made. I was wondering if there is a way to store for a day or two to ensure they are crisp when serving? Thank you!

    • I would recommend making sure the oil is hot enough and that you fry the shells long enough so that they are a deep golden brown – which will keep them nice and crisp (test one to make sure you get a nice crisp and flakey shell). As for storing them- make sure you keep them in a cool, dry place if you aren’t filling and serving them right away. I have made the shells a day ahead then kept them in an airtight container on my kitchen counter until I was ready to fill them the next day. Hope this helps Judy!

  2. This looks so fun! Does the dough for the shells keep in the refrigerator? If I made it the day before, wrapped it well, and then let it get to room temperature before rolling out, would that work?
    Thanks!