How to Make the Crunchiest, Creamiest Cannoli

how to make cannoli

  • Always keep the dough covered when you are not working with it to keep it moist and pliable, the secret to blistered, crispy shells.
  • For the nicest-looking ends to show off the filling, look for the traditional Italian diamond-shape cannoli dough cutter. Or cut the dough with a round cookie cutter, then roll it with a pin to elongate the dough round into an oval approximately 4 inches by 5 inches.
  • When using cannoli forms to make the shells, make sure the dough is loose rather than tightly rolled around the form. This creates a large enough opening to allow for plenty of filling, and it makes it easier to remove the form from the shell.
  • The fried shells can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
  • The quality of the ricotta is key to great cannoli; I recommend making your own, or purchasing sheep’s milk ricotta if you can find it.
  • Be sure the ricotta is very well drained. I drain mine overnight in the refrigerator, in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl and covered.
  • For a filling with the finest texture, use a firm but flexible plastic bowl scraper or the back of a spoon to press the ricotta through the finest strainer or screen you can find. I use a splatter screen. Whipping the ricotta or processing it in a food processor will not make it sufficiently smooth.
  • Make the filling the day before you will fill and eat the cannoli.
  • To prevent the chocolate from bleeding, wait to gently stir the chips into the ricotta until you are ready to fill the cannoli.
  • To keep the shells crisp, fill the cannoli just before you serve them. In Palermo, the best shops fill them espresso, right in front of you, so that the filling remains creamy and the shell breaks crisply under your teeth. Once filled, the cannoli are best eaten within a couple of hours.

Reprinted with permission from Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino with Jennie Schacht (Ten Speed Press, © 2013).  Photo Credit: Sara Remington.

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