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Italian Cannoli Filling Recipe

Italian desserts are all famous for being rich and scrumptious, but Cannoli Siciliani are possibly the most popular dessert, especially in the Italian American culture. Cannoli are the dessert of choice also for many Italians as well, and not just in Sicily where they originated. The word Cannoli (which is plural, cannolo singular) means little tubes and traditionally the shells are fried in oil, wrapped onto a cylindrical mold, then filled with a mix of ricotta cheese, chocolate chips and candied fruit.

The Cannoli fillings in the U.S. often have ricotta mixed with mascarpone cheese, but the authentic Sicilian cannoli recipe calls for fresh sheep milk ricotta, naturally sweet and rich in taste, with the addition of a few drops of orange blossom water, for an incomparable flavor. However, outside Italy the only ricotta normally available is made from cow milk, so in the cannoli filling recipe I am giving you here I used that as main ingredient.

Note: If you want to prepare also the actual shells, see the Cannoli Siciliani Recipe in the related links at the bottom of this page.

Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4-6)


  1. Drain well the ricotta by letting it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes in a colander lined with paper towels.

  2. Meanwhile, chop the candied fruit so that the pieces are about inch thick (1/2 cm).

  3. Mix together ricotta, sugar orange blossom water (or the orange liqueur), chocolate chips and candied fruit.

  4. Fill each shell, either with a small spoon or a pastry bag, first filling the shell halfway on one end and then repeating into the other end. Place over a serving plate.

  5. Repeat with the remaining cannoli shells, lightly sprinkle with the confection sugar and store in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes before serving.


As I mentioned in the ingredients, depending on the size and number of cannoli shells, you may have enough filling for 4-8 cannoli, or even more. Then you decide the number of cannoli of each serving, of course. Indulge as you like! However, from a viewpoint of calories (and health), I would suggest to divide the cannoli obtained with the amount of filling from this recipe at least in 4 servings.

Buon appetito!

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