Mini Cannoli Recipe

I love cannoli, they are without a doubt one of my favourite sweet treats and I have been dying to make some for ages. 

 I have a massive 'To Bake' list, it is full of things I want to try, baking experiments, my recipe ideas and various recipes I've seen. The problem with my 'To Bake' list is that for every bake I tick off I add five more, it is a never ending list of deliciousness and sometimes I wonder if I will ever find time to bake absolutely everything on it.

Nevertheless I finally managed to work my way down the list to where mini cannoli is frantically scribbled and underlined three times.

My little cannoli did not let me down, they were totally scrumptious and definitely worth the wait.  

I could eat cannoli filling by the spoonful and the crisp sweet shells are just heavenly.

Whilst developing my mini cannoli recipe I learnt a few tips and trick, so I will start by sharing those.

1. Rolling the Cannoli Pastry

My number one rule for cannoli is that you need to roll the dough really, really, really, thinly. When you think it is thin enough, roll it out a few more times and then a few more times and then it may actually be thin enough.  If your little disks of cannoli pastry are too thick, your cannoli will be soft and doughy. 

If you have a pasta machine, get that bad boy out! This is your pasta machine's time to shine, it will make rolling out the dough so thinly much easier.  Make sure you roll the dough as you would pasta dough, rolling, folding and re-rolling. Start on the widest setting and work your way to as thin as possible. The second to thinnest setting on my pasta machine was perfect. 

Rolling the cannoli pastry really thinly will also ensure the surface of your cannoli bubbles and blisters, creating a rough texture. These little bubbles and blisters are a sure fire sign of deliciousness.

2. Shaping the Cannoli

You need to wrap your cannoli around a tube to ensure it holds its distinctive shape during frying. Ideally you want to use cannoli forms but I have had great results using wooden spoon handles.  As always please be careful when frying.

When you wrap each little cannoli pastry circle around your cannoli form or wooden spoon handle, do not wrap it too tightly. Allow a little room for the hot oil to flow through the inside of the cannoli, between the inside of the cannoli and form but make sure the cannoli pastry will not slide off the form during frying.

3. The Cannoli Filling

To make the cannoli filling you will need to strain any excess liquid out of the ricotta cheese, to do this line a sieve with a layer of cheesecloth and set the sieve over a mixing bowl. Spoon the ricotta into the sieve, cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator to drain over night.

Mascarpone cheese is not as wet as ricotta so I simply drain my mascarpone as you normally would, using the lid to hold the cheese in place and pouring any excess liquid in the sink.

If you are having problems with soft, runny filling you can try a number of things, firstly ensure that you have drained and strained the cheeses sufficiently and that the cheeses were nicely whipped together before you began adding the icing sugar. The filling also needs to be well whipped after adding the icing sugar.

 You may have added too much icing sugar, add the icing sugar gradually to sweeten to taste, you may not need it all and if the filling starts to look too soft, stop a simply whip the filling for a minute of two.

I read that adding a little cornflour or replacing half of the icing sugar with caster sugar can ensure a thicker and more stable filling. I have not tried either of these options yet and I'm not convinced by the cornflour but it is worth a try if you are having problems.

4. Filling and Serving

Do not fill your shells until you are ready to serve the cannoli, this will ensure the shells remain crisp and the filling remains firm. Once filled, cannoli shells soften within 1-2 hours and the mascarpone and ricotta cheese filling does not like to be at room temperature for too long.

5. Just Go For It!

As with most things in life, making cannoli seems far more complicated than it actually is. The great thing is that you fry the cannoli one by one so if you realise your shells are to thick simply re-roll the rest. Take your time and as always make sure you read the recipe from start to finish, twice before you begin.

Mini Cannoli

makes approx. 50 mini cannoli

225g plain flour
1 tbsp milk powder
1 tsp cocoa powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
30g unsalted butter, melted
30g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
6 tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste

1 egg beaten
olive oil, for frying

150g mascarpone
100g ricotta, strained
150g icing sugar

To Make the Pastry:

Sift together the flour, milk powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Add the melted butter, sugar and beaten egg and mix well to combine.

Combine the apple juice and white wine vinegar in a separate small bowl. Add the liquid to the pastry and mix just until the mixture comes together and forms pastry dough.

Split the dough into two halves, flatten each half into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Take the first portion of your pastry out of the refrigerator.

 Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 3 mm. 

With a round pastry cutter, cut circles with a diameter of about 4.5-5cm. Take a pastry circle and wrap around the cannoli form, secure the cannoli using a little beaten egg to affix the two pastry edges together and seal the cannoli shut.  Do not wrap the cannoli circles too tightly around the cannoli forms, allow the edges of the cannoli to flare out slightly from the tubes, this will allow the oil to flow through the inside of each cannoli shell as they fry.

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil to 180C.

Use a pair of tongs to hold the edge of your cannoli form or indeed wooden spoon as you submerge the shell into the hot oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy, around 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and hold the cannoli form in one hand, use a clean kitchen towel to carefully slide the shell off using your other hand.  Do not worry the shells slide off with surprising ease.

Place the shell onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil  and allow the shell to cool a little before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining pastry circles.

Once cool store the cannoli shells in an airtight container until needed.

To Make the Cannoli Filling:

Remove the drained mascarpone and strained ricotta from the fridge and beat together using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating constantly until fully combined, smooth and creamy.  

Cover and refrigerate the filling until needed.  

Do not fill your cannoli shells until just before serving, once filled cannoli shells begin to go soft within 1-2 hours and the filling will become softer.

To Fill the Cannoli:

Just before serving, fit a piping bag with a small open star tip. Fill the piping bag with cannoli filling and pipe into each shell from both ends, so that the creamy filling meets in the middle, running through the whole shell and peeking out each end of the cannoli.

Dust the cannoli with a little powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Other ideas:

You can add orange or lemon zest to the filling or even finely chopped chocolate, pistachios or candied peel, just make sure you pipe the frosting into the shells using a piping bag without a piping tip fitted otherwise it will get blocked.

Dipping the ends of each cannoli shell into melted chocolate and sprinkling with chopped pistachios will both look and taste fantastic.

After my first beautifully piped batch my other half suggested I don't bother piping and filling each shell at all but instead serve the cannoli shells unfilled in a big pile with a little bowl of cannoli filling on the side for dipping. Only a boy would suggest such a thing.

Happy Baking!



lyndsey said...

These look scrumptious! A must try!

Kim said...

Ooh they look gorgeous, I've never even heard of these before! Even though I'm a tea fiend, I feel like they'd go really well with a coffee. Will have to look out for these, think making them myself is a bit beyond me!


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