After a nice Italian dinner, when you are ready for dessert, one of your choices is often cannoli, a sweetened ricotta stuffed shell often dipped in chocolate or nuts, frequently pistachios. They are easy to make at home with metal cannoli tubes to fry them into shape (tubes available at baking and cake decorating shops, Amazon, etc.). Sometimes you can find the shells already made ready for filling.
Try them at home – fun to make and yummy to eat! Perfect with some Lemoncello or Amaretto after a heavy dinner!
For the shells:
- 1 c sifted all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 6 Tbsp. white wine (or apple juice)
- shortening for frying
For the filling:
- 2 c whole milk ricotta cheese
- 3/4 c powdered sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped maraschino cherries
- 2 Tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 c heavy whipping cream, optional
- 1/4 c pistachio nuts, chopped. optional
To make shells, in large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. cut in butter (as for a pie crust). Stir in wine with a fork, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Form a ball with the dough and let it stand to rest for 30 minutes.
Roll dough to 1/8″ thickness or less (paper thin) on lightly floured board. Using the rim of a margarita glass (or any glass 3 to 4 inches across), make circle imprints into dough and using a sharply pointed paring knife, cut through the imprints to form 12 circles of dough. Be sure you cut all the way through.
Roll each circle around a metal cannoli tube, overlapping the ends (in the middle) and pressing to seal, flaring out the edges slightly. (You can use a dab of water or slightly beaten egg white to seal the overlapping ends but be absolutely sure no egg white (if using) gets on the metal tube or you will have trouble getting the cannoli shell off the tube!)
Heat shortened to 360 and fry 1 or 2 at a time (don’t crowd them), about 1 minute, turning to brown evenly on all sides. Remove from hot grease with tongs, letting hot grease drain back into pan; then set to drain on paper towels, seam side down. Let cool about 2 minutes, then holding the metal tube down on the paper towel carefully slide the tube out one end. [If reusing the same tubes let them cool completely before making the next one(s)] Continue until all 12 are made and completely cooled before filling. They can be made several days in advance and stored in airtight containers at room temperature.
For filling, drain ricotta over cheesecloth if ricotta is watery. Combine ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla until combined. Squeeze maraschino cherries with paper towels to remove all liquid (or you will have a pink, watery filling). For a lighter textured filling, you may whip 1/2 cup whipping cream to stiff peaks and fold into the cheese mixture at this point. Stir in cherries and mini-chips and chill mixture about 30 minutes before stuffing the cannoli shells.
Pipe or spoon ricotta mixture into shells; dust with powdered sugar if desired and you may dip ends in chopped pistachio nuts and/or melted chocolate if you want to make it fancy.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.