Daring Bakers November- Cannoli!

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Cannoli. When I read we were going to be frying for Daring Bakers I had mixed feelings. But the day I decided to make them, my son and I had a lot of fun. I call these “carnival cannoli” in honor of my son, the boy who loves everything covered in sprinkles.

Compared to last month’s macaron challenge they were easy. And luckily for me not addictive! After eating a hundred pounds of macarons last month my body probably needed the break. Yes, these were fried, but I only ate one. The cannoli were good but not that good. If I’m going to make something that takes all day, I’m going to make macarons again! Sorry, but I love those things. Okay, now onto the cannoli!

The dough itself is very forgiving and easy to make. The consistency of it is like nothing I have ever baked before- it was great for my kid to play with since it wasn’t sticky and did not have eggs or anything in it that he couldn’t touch raw. This is a rare occurrence since most everything we bake has eggs in it and I am always telling him not to touch. With this dough I could tell him to roll it out, touch, do whatever. Here’s what the dough looks like:


The ricotta cheese has to be drained of excess liquid. I did mine in a cheesecloth lined strainer overnight in the fridge:


The filling can be whipped up in a snap:


At this point I was thinking this was going to be the easiest challenge ever. Then it got a little trickier. We went over to my parents’ house to use their pasta machine:

Pasta Maker (2)

Andrew was more than happy to help me work this contraption.

Mothers Helper

Thanks to Andrew, I discovered that the more you put the dough through the machine the better the dough gets and after several times through you finally get something you can work with. Andrew could have done this all day but I finally convinced him to make the cut-out circles so we could dip them in chocolate and eat them! Here is my stack of circle cut-outs:

Pasta Machine Results (2)

We drove back home to do the frying. While I heated the oil we prepared some melted chocolate and sprinkles.



When I fried them up I was panicking. The oil temp was rising super fast and I had a hard time controlling it. Then I forgot to seal the dough with egg white on the metal tube and the first one came apart in the oil. The second one I did, I put the egg white on but I could not get the thing off the tube after it was fried! Finally I figured out to twist them off much like you would open a bottle of soda or something. I got into my groove, with a perfect system down and correct oil temp just as I dropped my last shell into the oil. It usually goes that way for me . . . Oh well!

I dipped both ends in chocolate and sprinkles and I piped them with a large star tip. Here they are all lined up:


When my husband came back in from walking our daughter around the block he was pleasantly surprised to find these. All day he thought I was making some kind of pasta. I didn’t know that he had no idea what cannoli were! I wish I had a cigar box to display them in. I think that would be kind of cool. Here are my best three:


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.

2 cups (250 grams/16 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, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

1. 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.

2 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.

3 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, uhh, oiled..lol). 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock 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.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.


  1. Posted November 27, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    this cannoli are so cute and delicious looking. I think I have to do some more just to use some sprinkles.

  2. Posted November 27, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    In Australia we call ‘sprinkles’ 100s and 1000s and your cannoli would be a ‘fairy cannoli’ things coated in 100s and 1000s are called ‘fairy’ and this treat would be so lovely for children and isn’t great that Andrew discovered the beauty of dough rolling. Superb photos and they are so professional. Cheers from Audax in Australia – great photo of your child doing the rolling.

  3. Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    “Fairy” suits this family well! 🙂 Anyway, thanks for the nice comments on the pics. I am still learning but am lucky enough to have a nice camera my husband bought me this summer. Cheers, Audax and see you in a few weeks in the forums again! I can’t wait to see what’s next . . .

  4. Posted November 27, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE the picture with the three cannoli, the colors make me happy 🙂

  5. Posted November 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Your cannoli turned out beautiful, and even though they were trumped by the macarons for you, I’m so glad you took part in my challenge! At the very least, you now have a new dessert notch under your belt 🙂 BTW, beautiful family!

  6. Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately I think the macarons will trump everything else I ever make in my entire life. I think they are just my favorite dessert ever. But anyway, you picked a great challenge and hosted wonderfully. I don’t know what I would ever pick if I were ever in your position or how I could be in the forum every day all day as you seemed to be, helping. You rock!

  7. Posted November 27, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Your cannoli look amazing
    so beautiful and delicious 🙂

  8. Posted November 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Love your post and the pic on Daring Kitchen! The cannoli look great.

  9. Posted November 27, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Awesome colorful cannoli!! Im glad you and your son had a great time with this..

  10. Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    I love your cannoli! Especially the sprinkles! My son would be jealous if he saw yours because sprinkles are a way of life with him.

  11. Posted November 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    And my son would be jealous of those fancy carrots you have in your header over on your blog!

  12. Posted November 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Simply gorgeous! I love your cannoli & the sprinkles are such fun =D.

  13. Posted November 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    The sprinkles do remind me of a carnival! I love that idea. You and your son did a terrific job with this challenge. I have a 10-month old and look forward to baking with her when she is older.

  14. Posted November 28, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I had sprinkles for the kids’ cannoli as well. I wonder if they would eat more vegetables with sprinkles on them :)?
    Love your pictures too!

  15. Posted November 29, 2009 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    Great job. I think I might need to give this a shot with the deep fryer at some point. hopefully the frydaddy can hold temp somewhat consistently.

  16. Posted November 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Those sprinkles add so much color and make the cannolis very pretty. Perfect cannoli!

  17. Posted December 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Awww… those are the most adorable cannolis ever! I think your son has a good eye for suggesting that you use sprinkles. They make the cannolis look so happy, fun and festive! Way to go on this month’s challenge… keep up the amazing bakes 🙂

  18. Posted December 4, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Oh what fun for your son! They look so yummy.
    Funny that your husband didn’t know what you were making!