Among the Italian desserts, Sicilian Cannoli are probably the most popular, especially amid people of Italian descent. The word Cannoli means little tubes and traditionally the tubular shells are fried in oil, wrapped around a cylindrical mold, and then filled with a mix of ricotta cheese, chocolate chips and candied fruit.
The authentic Sicilian cannoli filling 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 the one made from cow milk; therefore, that's what I've used for the cannoli filling in this recipe:
Ingredients and Instructions for Cannoli Shells:
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus one extra teaspoon for dusting the board
- 2 tablespoon of melted butter
- 2 tablespoon of sugar
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine (dry Vermouth is best)
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- Cannoli molds for shaping while frying
- Rolling pin
- Mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the melted butter.
- Add gradually the wine and the water, working the mix until you have smooth and compact dough.
- Cover with a cloth and let rest at room temperature for about one hour.
- With the extra flour, lightly flour the board and using a pin-roll flatten the dough until about 1/8 of an inch thick (3 mm).
- Using a large round cookie cutter or the rim of a bowl, cut out 4-5 inches wide rounds.
- Roll and press the left over dough and cut more rounds.
- In a deep pan, heat the vegetable oil. If you use a thermometer, it should indicate 350 F (175 C) to be ready.
- Meanwhile, wrap each round of dough around one of the cannoli molds, sealing the overlapping sides with a touch of water and pressing them well together; this is to avoid that they open up while frying.
- Carefully drop a few shells at a time in the hot oil and fry them until just golden brown. Remove from the oil and transfer over paper towels to drain. Let them cool and then remove them from the molds.
- Repeat with all the dough rounds.
Ingredients and Instructions for Cannoli Filling:
- 1 pound of ricotta cheese, well drained
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup of confection sugar
- 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water (orange liqueur or Grand Marnier can do)
- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup of candied fruit
- Drain well the ricotta by letting it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes in a colander lined with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, chop the candied fruit so that the pieces are about ¼ inch thick (1/2 cm).
- Mix together ricotta, sugar orange blossom water (or the orange liqueur), chocolate chips and candied fruit.
- 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.
- Repeat with the remaining cannoli shells and at the end sprinkle them with the confection sugar.