secret recipe club: cannoli

whenever i am in new york city, i try to end an evening in little italy. can you blame me? when it's right, it's everything great about new york. great people watching, amazing food, good asti spumante, and the choice of two of my most favorite desserts: gelato and cannoli. neither of which i have ever tried to tackle myself. maybe it's because they both sound tricky or maybe there's something magical about sitting on mulberry street, sipping cappuccino and eating cannoli with ten year old friends, catching up on life, that you simply lose all sight of when you're home.

but i went for it. this month, for the secret recipe club, i was browsing evelyne's blog, cheap ethnic eatz, when i stumbled upon her cannoli daring bakers entry back in november 2009. and her cannoli looked amazing. perfectly brown and light shells and thick, creamy filling. i knew it would be a labor of love, but i was in. surprisingly, the labor wasn't all that much. or so it seemed. sure, you don't whip up a batch of these on a weeknight after work, but fifteen minutes on a friday night followed by maybe an hour start to finish on saturday left me with a little over a dozen of these beauties. 

my one and only gripe? my filling was awfully thin (see the white plate above). i did what any normal person would do and consulted google, which left me with two solutions: i should have used part skim ricotta since it allows the moisture to come out of it easier or i need to add more sugar. since i didn't want to start over, i added more sugar. up to a full half cup more and it didn't seem to be doing anything. i decided to strain the filling, following the same method as the ricotta. it made a mess, but didn't help much to get it thickened (see red plate above). honestly, i didn't care too much about the consistency, since the taste was out of this world. my ricotta hating husband ate his first in two bites and asked for more.

for more information on the secret recipe club, including the list of participating bloggers, featured recipes from members, and instructions on how to join, visit the secret recipe club website!

check out my previous src posts below
gingerbread muffins
double chocolate peanut butter chip oatmeal cookies
butterscotch peach cake
whole wheat honey pancakes minted pineapple lime agua frescabreakfast tacos
simple almond sandwich cookies
roasted banana rum cake

adapted from cheap ethnic eatz, who adapted them from the daring bakers
15min the night before, about 1 hour the day of, makes 12-16 three inch cannoli

for the shells:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon (a good shake) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon (small splash) white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sweet marsala or any other sweet red or white wine
about 4 cups vegetable oil for frying

for the filling:
1 pound part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon (a good shake) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (small splash) vanilla extract
optional - a couple tablespoons finely chopped chocolate
optional - a couple tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
  1. the day before you want to eat the cannoli, make the shell dough. combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. stir in the vegetable oil, vinegar, and enough wine to make a soft dough. knead the dough about 2 minutes, form into a disc, wrap and plastic and refrigerate over night.
  2. the day before you want to eat the cannoli, drain the ricotta. line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. put the ricotta in the cheesecloth and cover with plastic wrap. place a large weight (i used a can of beans) over the ricotta to weigh it down. refrigerate over night. periodically check to make sure liquid is draining from the ricotta.
  3. the next day, heat the oil in a large pan to 375F. lightly grease your cannoli rollers. set a layer of newspaper (or other paper you don't want anymore) with a cooling rack on top next to your frying oil to drain the shells once fried.
  4. take the shell dough out of the refrigerator. if you have a pasta roller, i suggest using it to roll out the dough, because you can get it very thin and uniform. i used my kitchenaid attachment and rolled the dough down to number 5 on the dial. (if you don't have a pasta roller, use a rolling pin.) cut the dough into one and a half inch circles for small cannoli or three inch circles for large cannoli. using your hands, lightly stretch the dough circles into ovals. curl the ovals around the cannoli forms and pinch the ends together. if you're afraid of the cannoli coming unattached while cooking (and therefore not forming a tube), use a small bit of egg white to pinch the edges together.
  5. once the oil has come up to temperature, carefully place the cannoli in the hot oil. fry, rotating occasionally, about 2 minutes, or until golden. very carefully pick up one end of the cannoli tube, allowing the hot oil to drain from inside of the tube, before removing the cannoli from the oil. place on the cooling rack and let cool about five minutes.
  6. wrap your hand in a kitchen towel (the tubes are still pretty hot) and hold the metal tube. tip it on its side and the cannoli should slide right off. if it doesn't, use your other hand to gently hold onto the cannoli and pull with both hands until it slides off. 
  7. repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. while the cannoli are cooling, finish the filling. combine the drained ricotta, confectioner's sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until smooth. if you'd like, mix in the chopped chocolate and/or pistachios. place the mixture in a piping bag or zip top bag and fill the cool cannoli shells.
  9. cannoli should be eaten immediately after they are filled. store unfilled shells in an airtight container and store the filling in the refrigerator.


  1. Your cannolis look fantastic.

  2. So happy you got me and what a great choice. I remember feeling the same when I made them: a seemingly huge task but not so hard. The shells look gorgeous. Sorry the filling was a bit runny but still looks delish!

  3. Yum. Let me know next time you're in the city...I'll give you a few other places to go for great pastries :)

  4. I recently had my first cannoli and I tell you what...it skyrocketed up to a very high spot on my favorite foods list. These look great!

  5. If it tasted good, I would not care for the consistency either. Looks great! Good to know that it does not take that long. I dont have canoli forms but I bet I can figure something out.

  6. I love cannolis! I made a cannoli dip for thanksgiving and is was fantastic but I've never made cannolis before! I need too!

  7. Wow, they look amazing! I wish I were brave enough to make them.... but at least I am inspired to go find a good Italian bakery and buy some :-) Great pic for SRC - you're my hero :-)

  8. These cannolis draw me back to Rome. Sitting, sipping on espresso, & taking in the sights.



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