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Authentic Cannoli recipe

Cannoli, a quintessential Sicilian dessert, epitomize the rich culinary heritage of Italy with their crisp, golden shells and sweet, creamy filling. This iconic treat, which has found its way from the sun-drenched shores of Sicily to the hearts of dessert lovers around the globe, carries with it centuries of history, tradition, and cultural significance. Originating from the island of Sicily, cannoli were historically prepared during the season of Carnevale, the festival leading up to Lent, symbolizing fertility and abundance. Today, they are enjoyed year-round, marking celebrations, gatherings, or simply the pleasure of a well-crafted dessert.

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The journey of making authentic cannoli is both an art and a science, from the careful preparation of the crispy shell to the rich, smooth filling that characterizes this beloved pastry. The shells, traditionally made from a dough of flour, sugar, and Marsala wine, are deep-fried to achieve their characteristic golden color and crisp texture, offering a delightful contrast to the creamy richness waiting inside. The filling, a luscious blend of ricotta cheese, sugar, and often flavored with vanilla or orange zest, is the heart of the cannoli, encapsulating the essence of Sicilian sweetness and lightness.

Making cannoli at home invites not only the opportunity to savor this delicious dessert but also to connect with the traditions and stories that have shaped Italian cuisine. It is a testament to the timeless appeal of Sicilian pastry-making and its ability to bring people together over shared culinary delights. Whether you are an experienced baker or new to the world of Italian pastries, crafting homemade cannoli promises a rewarding and flavorful adventure.

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This authentic cannoli recipe aims to guide you through each step of the process, from crafting the perfect shell to mixing the smoothest, most flavorful filling. It embraces the traditional methods that have made cannoli a staple of Italian dessert, while also offering practical tips to ensure success in the modern kitchen. Whether you’re looking to recreate a taste of Sicilian summer, impress guests at your next gathering, or simply indulge in a moment of sweet delight, this recipe brings the best of Italy’s dessert tradition to your table.

So, gather your ingredients, and let’s embark on a culinary journey to Sicily. Through the making of cannoli, we celebrate the joy of Italian baking, the artistry of dessert-making, and the pleasure of sharing delicious, handcrafted treats with loved ones. Welcome to the delightful world of authentic cannoli – where every bite tells a story of tradition, craftsmanship, and the simple joy of life’s sweetest moments.

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Ingredients for authentic Cannoli

For the Cannoli Shells

For the Filling

Equipment

  • Cannoli forms
  • Deep fryer or a deep skillet
  • Piping bag
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Instructions for authentic Cannoli

Make the dough

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the beaten egg and Marsala wine until the dough comes together. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll and cut the dough

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cutter (about 4 inches in diameter), cut out circles from the dough. Wrap each circle around a cannoli form, sealing the edges with a little beaten egg.

Fry the shells

Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or deep skillet to 360°F (182°C). Fry the cannoli shells on the forms, a few at a time, until golden and crispy, about 1 minute. Carefully remove the shells from the oil and let cool slightly before gently sliding them off the forms onto a paper towel-lined plate to cool completely.

Prepare the filling

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and orange zest if using. Mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Fill the Cannoli

Spoon the ricotta filling into a piping bag fitted with a wide tip. Pipe the filling into the cooled cannoli shells from both ends to ensure they are completely filled.

Serve

Dust the filled cannoli with powdered sugar just before serving. Cannoli are best enjoyed the day they are made to maintain the crispness of the shells.

Tips

Ensure the ricotta cheese is well-strained to prevent the filling from being too runny. Do not fill the cannoli shells until ready to serve to keep the shells crisp. For an extra touch, dip the ends of the filled cannoli in crushed pistachios, mini chocolate chips, or candied orange peel.

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Video recipe for authentic Cannoli

Can I use wine other than Marsala for the cannoli shells?

Marsala wine gives the cannoli shells their traditional flavor, but if it’s not available, you can substitute it with a dry white wine or dark rum. The flavor will be slightly different but still delicious.

How do I prevent my cannoli shells from becoming soggy?

To keep the shells crisp, ensure they are thoroughly cooled after frying and only fill them shortly before serving. Storing filled cannoli can cause the shells to soften due to the moisture from the filling.

Can the cannoli filling be made in advance?

Yes, the ricotta filling can be prepared up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This can help the flavors meld together more fully, but remember to stir it well before filling the shells.

What if my ricotta cheese is too watery?

If your ricotta cheese seems too wet, place it in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and let it drain in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. This will help achieve the thick, creamy consistency ideal for cannoli filling.

How can I customize the cannoli filling?

Feel free to experiment with the filling by adding ingredients like finely chopped pistachios, candied orange peel, or even a dash of cinnamon or espresso powder. Each addition can create a new and exciting flavor profile.

Can I make cannoli shells without a deep fryer?

Absolutely! If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can use a deep, heavy skillet or saucepan. Fill it with enough vegetable oil to submerge the cannoli shells and use a candy or frying thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.

Is it necessary to use cannoli forms?

Cannoli forms are essential for shaping the shells. If you don’t have traditional cannoli tubes, you can improvise with stainless steel tubes or even cleaned, aluminum foil-wrapped dowels. Just ensure whatever you use is oven-safe and won’t melt or release harmful chemicals when heated.

How do I know when the cannoli shells are done frying?

Cannoli shells are done when they are a deep golden brown and crispy. It usually takes about 1 minute per batch. If they darken too quickly, your oil may be too hot; if they take much longer, your oil might not be hot enough.

Can cannoli be made gluten-free?

For a gluten-free version, substitute the all-purpose flour with your favorite gluten-free flour blend designed for baking. Keep in mind that textures and flavors might slightly differ from traditional cannoli shells.

How should I store leftover cannoli?

If you have leftover filled cannoli, they’re best enjoyed within a day when stored in the refrigerator. For unfilled shells, keep them in an airtight container at room temperature; they can last up to two weeks and be filled just before serving.

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