Cannoli consist of tubeshaped shells of fried pasta, filled with a sweet, creamy filling called “cannoli cream” and commonly containing Mascarpone or sweetened ricotta cheese blended with some combination of vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, Marsala wine, rosewater or other flavorings.
Some chefs add chopped candied fruit (citron, orange peel, or cherries). They range in size from “cannulicchi”, no bigger than a finger, to the fistsized
proportions typically found in Piana degli Albanesi, south of Palermo, Sicily. Regardless of size, the shells should be filled as late as possible to avoid becoming soggy, thus losing the crunchiness that provides contrast with the softness of the filling.
Food historians believe cannoli date to the time of Sicily’s Arab dominion by the Saracens or even earlier; the tubelike shape may reflect Druidic stele and menhir. Originating in the Palermo area, they were historically prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol; one legend assigns their origin to the harem of Caltanissetta.
The dessert eventually became a yearround staple throughout what is now Italy.
Cannoli, as well as many other specialties of Italian pasticceria, originated in Sicily centuries ago, and can now easily be found in better Italian bakeries and restaurants and is an essential part of Sicilian cuisine.
The word “cannoli” is the plural form of the Italian word cannolo which literally translates to “little tube.”
Ingredients (For Shell):
300 g all purpose flour
225 g sugar
1 tbsp ground coffee
50 g butter
1/4 cup (50 ml) marsala
1 egg, beaten
12 cannoli tubes (special metal pastry cylinders)
7 1/2 cups oil, for deep frying
For Ricotta Cheese Mixture (Cannoli Filling):
450 g ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
1. Mix flour, sugar and ground coffee together and make a well. Cut in butter and eggs. Add marsala and knead as you would bread, for approximately 20 minutes. Let dough rest for approximately 1 hour
2. Roll dough out on pasta machine, then cut with 4 – 5” round cookie cutter. Place cannoli tubes in the centre of the circle, brush ends with egg whites then close both ends together
3. Deep fry in hot oil, a few at a time until they are lightly brown. Drain and let cool
4. Carefully remove the tube from the shell and fill with ricotta cheese mixture.