“Sorry we’re not baking this month...” was the very first line I read as I opened up the Daring Kitchen forum earlier this month to see what the Daring Bakers’ were going to be challenged with. OK I am going to admit I did a sigh of relief! November has been full for me – too full! It has taught me to never pack a month so full with things!
However, as I opened up the page I read on: “....so put away your baking pans and get out the deep fry thermometer and oil!”
I am not a huge fan of deep fat frying. Besides the fact that so much hot oil makes me very nervous, I see the oil coming back with revenge at me on different parts of my body in the form of unwanted fat!
But it was cannoli! We were to make cannoli this month and that in itself made me rather excited. What was more we were allowed the leniency of going anyway we wanted with the fillings. That is what I liked the most.
I had my first cannoli, I think I was 15, in Rome. Our summer vacations from school would be very long, where everyone would leave Doha for several weeks to get away from the hot blistering July/August sun. Europe and the US were mostly our destination. My dad was the Italy fan and my mum the France freak. So, while my brother spent a couple of weeks in France with my mother, I would be basking in the Italian sun with my dad before we all met up in the US. The following summer it was then the other way around.
This particular summer I was enjoying everything Rome had to offer! An epic city, bubbling and captivating. It took just one visit and I was hooked. The city bombarded me with images that I cherished – elderly signoras with dyed hair sitting in Trastevere, snapping peas and taking in the morning sun on a chair just outside her doorway. The homes bedecked with flower boxes and clinging ivy are intertwined with coffee bars, restaurants and chic boutiques. Men set up folding tables at the Piazza San Calisto to play card games, ignoring cars squeezing in around them. Terracotta, maize and wine colored buildings cast a glow almost like a daylong sunset. The busy cobblestone streets bustling with Vespas, cars and people were lively and above, the clothes hanging on the laundry lines offered a slight shade under the blistering sun. Every step of this Bohemian-like place awakened all my senses pleasantly.
It was in one of the quaint coffee bars in Trastevere that I discovered my deep desire for the Italian dolce vita! Everything from sfogliatelli, biscotti to tiramisu and of course cannoli.
So, once I read that our challenge was to make our own cannoli all my senses took me back to that coffee bar in Trastevere, Rome.
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
My cannoli happened early in the month. As I knew this was going to be a crazy month I just had to get it out of the way without having to fret over it much. I was glad we were allowed to use the pasta machine to form the dough as I found it tough. Besides that, I experienced no major issues. A few of the deep fried cannoli did stick to the metal tubes and I was fairly scared of the hot oil in the tubes. I had ordered the forms the day I read the challenge and they arrived within 2 days!
I had a great time with the fillings. For the gianduja cream I used nothing else but good old Nutella mixing it with mascarpone and heavy cream to create a mousse like texture. Ricotta and goat cheese formed the basis of my next filling, with Limoncello and lemon zest to spruce up the flavors. Both were incredible!
Cannoli with Gianduja Cream and Lemon Goat Cheese Cream
Printable version of recipe here
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes
For cannoli shells
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg white
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
Icing sugar, to dust
Method for shells
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
- Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
- Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes. You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well oiled. Roll a dough oval from the long side. If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it. Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
- In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
- Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
- Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan.
- Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
- Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
Pasta Machine method:
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through.
- Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.
- Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.
For stacked cannoli:
- Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).
- Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.
Ingredients For Gianduja Cream
120g Nutella cream (or any other chocolate-hazelnut paste)
1 1/2 teaspoons brandy
120 ml heavy cream
Method for Gianduja Cream
- In a medium bowl, beat the chocolate-hazelnut paste with the mascarpone and brandy using an electric mixer at low speed until smooth.
- In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until firm peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate-hazelnut mixture until no streaks remain. Fill the cream into a piping bag then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Ingredients For Lemon Goat Cheese Cream
450g ricotta, hung overnight
60g mild goat cheese
60g fine sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Limoncello
Method for Lemon Goat Cheese Cream
- Beat together ricotta, goat cheese, fine sugar, lemon zest, Limoncello and cinnamon in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for approx.1 minute until everything is smooth.
- Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate until required.
ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:
- When ready to serve, fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a Ziploc bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a Ziploc bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
- Dust generously with icing sugar.
Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with icing sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.
TIPS AND NOTES:
- Dough must be stiff and well kneaded
- Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.
- Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.
- Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.
- Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.
- If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.
- DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.
- When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.
- Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.
- Push forms out of cannoli very gently, being careful not to break the shells as they are very delicate. DO NOT let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. Try to take it off while still hot. Hold it with a cloth in the center, and push the form out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.
- When adding the confectioner’s sugar to the filling - TASTE. You may like it sweeter than what the recipe calls for, or less sweet, so add in increments.
- Fill cannoli right before serving! If you fill them an hour or so prior, you’ll end up with soggy cannoli shells.
- If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.
- Practice makes perfect. As you go along, you’ll see what will make them more aesthetically pleasing, and adjust accordingly when rolling. Don’t give up!!
Incredibly good. They were far too good and we indulged without a care and any thoughts of repercussions! They were decadent, they were rich and they were awesome.
I liked the recipe for the shells as it was very straightforward and worked quite well. I made the dough the night before and with the pasta machine it was easy to roll out and shape. My filling creations were exquisite, I especially liked the zesty lemon goat cheese cream.
I am off to London tomorrow to attend and speak at the Food Bloggers Connect (check it out we have a new website up and running now). If you want a sneak peak at what’s on the itinerary here is a little teaser. My hot sister Jeanne of Cook sister and my sensational friend Jamie of Life’s a Feast will be discussing “Writing Style and Voice” and the brilliant Kang of LondonEater will not only be joining me to discuss photography in low lighting situations but also talking about Social Media. So it’s going to be a rocking event – hope you’ve reserved your seats!
I’ll see you next week so have a great weekend!
You might like these past Daring Bakers challenges from WFLH:
|Saffron Macarons with Cardamom White Chocolate Ganache||Chocolate & Coconut French Yule Log||Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting|
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