I have the impression that many people are scared of making cannoli at home, but there’s no reason. These should be part of your special occasion dessert repertoire, no different than cakes or brownies. There are basically two steps—making the shells and filling them. But never fill a cannoli shell until it’s ready to be served. Any bakery worth its sugar will finish their cannoli only when you order them. Otherwise the shells get soggy. I am fairly traditional when it comes to making the shells; like my mom and grandmother, I roll out the dough, cut a circle, and create the shell using a cannoli tube. But occasionally I’ll use my pizzelle maker—the device normally used for traditional Italian waffle cookies—and that adds a great texture to the shell even after they’re wrapped around the cannoli mold. These feel indulgent while at the same time seeming basic to any Italian family dinner. I often serve these for a birthday, anniversary, or holiday.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup dry Marsala or white wine
- 1 large egg yolk
- Vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup grated bittersweet chocolate (about 11/2 ounces), plus more for cannoli ends
- Make the Cannoli Shells: Pulse the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a food processor until combined, 5 to 6 times. Add the butter, and pulse until thoroughly combined, 3 to 4 times. Add the Marsala and egg yolk; process until the dough can be gently pressed into a ball, about 10 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a flat disk. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven. Heat over medium to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, roll half of the dough into a very thin circle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough with a 31/2-inch round cutter; reroll the dough scraps once, and cut as many more circles as possible. Discard any remaining dough scraps. Repeat with remaining half of the dough.
- Wrap 1 dough circle around each cannoli tube. Lightly moisten 1 edge with water, and press the edges together very firmly to seal. (If it is not well sealed, it will open during frying.) Fry the dough and cannoli tubes in the hot oil until golden brown, about 45 seconds. Using tongs, carefully remove from the hot oil. Remove the tubes from the shells, and place the shells on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely, about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough circles.
- Make the Filling: Drain the ricotta in a fine wire-mesh strainer forabout 30minutes. Combine the drained ricotta, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, orange zest, vanilla, and almond extract in a bowl; stir until smooth. Stir in the chocolate.
- Spoon the ricotta mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Pipe the ricotta mixture into the cannoli shells; arrange on a platter, and dust with the powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
TIP: Use your vegetable peeler to create shavings from a block of chocolate.
Excerpted from Valerie’s Home Cooking by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.