This is one of my all time favourite Italian dessert pastries, crisp and delicate shells filled with a light and perfumed cream studded with tiny golden citrussy bites and dark bitter shavings of good chocolate. I added some Frangelico to the cream mixture to add a light hazelnut scent and also some of Leafy Greens delicious Organic Vanilla powder. I usually whip some mascarpone cheese into the ricotta mixture to add a little richness, but if you have a really great creamy ricotta cheese you can leave this out.
The hardest part about making cannoli is rolling the pastry to the required thickness, or rather thinness. You can do this very carefully by hand, but this is a really special skill.
I use a pasta machine, it does the job quickly and you get all the cannoli perfectly even which means they all fry at the same speed. If you are planning on filling the cannoli before hand you need to line the fried tubes with some melted chocolate to try and prevent them from getting soggy, but cannoli are best filled and eaten. To make cannoli you are going to need to get your hands on some cannoli tubes, these varying size stainless steel tubest are used to shape your pastry around, so that they hold the shape when you deep fry them.
Makes 12-24 Tubes
– 400gms stone ground unbleached flour, plus extra for rolling
– 140ml white wine, plus extra 60ml
– 1 jumbo free range egg yolk
– 40gms castor sugar
– 40gms butter, cold cut into small pieces
– pinch of fine salt
– sunflower or other vegetable oil for frying
– 400gms good fresh ricotta cheese
– 100gms mascarpone cheese
– 2tbsp runny honey
– 40gms finely chopped candied mixed citrus peel
– 60gms drained maraschino cherries, finely chopped
– 3 tbsp Frangelico/Marsala/Cointreau/Amaretto/Orange Juice
– 60gms good dark chocolate, finely chopped
To make the pastry start by sieving the flour and salt into a large bowl. Now rub the butter into the flour, working quickly and lightly to keep the butter as cold as possible. Once the butter is rubbed in stir in the castor sugar and then add the egg yolk. Mix the egg yolk into the flour before adding the wine. Add about 100ml of the wine, and keep adding the wine extra wine tablespoon at time making sure you mix well between each addition. Once the dough has come together add knead it for a few minutes until it is smooth and silky, it should be elastic, not so moist that it sticks to the counter when you kneed the dough, or so dry that it crumbles when you try and knead it. Once you have finished with the dough wrap it in cling wrap and place it in the fridge to rest for at least 30-minutes or for as few hours.
When you are ready to roll the dough, cut it into 4 pieces. Keeping the extra dough wrapped while you work with each piece. Run it through the pasta maker on its thickest setting, dusting with flour as needed. Repeat this process until you have reduced to around a 6 or 7, depending on the thickness you like and your specific machine. I usually make mine around a 7, since I like the pastry really delicate and crunchy.
Now using a martini glass or circle the right size for your steel tubes, start cutting out disks of pastry. When you wrap them start by placing the tube in the centre of the circle, then fold one side round. wet the edge of the side still on the counter and just roll the tube over it, pressing gently as you do. This will seal the tubes, and also by wrapping from the centre you will keep the opening of the tubes clear of fried pastry. I roll, cut, wrap, fry in one long line, so that the pastry goes into the oil as soon as its cooked. The tubes need to be deep fried in hot clean oil, test the oil by dropping a small piece into it, it should pop to the surface a bubble. Fry one or two tubes at a time, be warned they brown very quickly so if you stick too many in you might find yourself battling to stop them from burning. Turn the tubes as they float in the oil so that they brown evenly, I find a set of chopsticks is the easiest way to handle them. Remove the tubes and lay them against the sides of a colander lined with absorbent paper towel. This will allow any trapped oil to drain away, as soon as you can, lift the pastry tube carefully into a clean dry dish cloth. Using one side of the dish cloth, carefully push the steel tube whilst gripping the pastry tube with the other hand gently. Once some of the tube is exposed, and using the cloth pinch the steel tube and pull it all the way out. You will master your technique fairly quickly it only takes a few finger burns to learn how to hold the tube, Plus if you grip too hard the pastry tube will break.
To prepare the cream place all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk till well combined. Add the filling to a pastry bag and set it aside. At the last minute pipe the mixture into the tubes, remember the tubes will only stay crisp for about 30-minutes. If you want to try and fill the tubes earlier, melt some chocolate and brush the inside of the tubes with it. Once this has gone cold it will form a protective layer between the tube and the cream, but the tubes will still get soggy after a few hours. To fill the tubes, pipe in from one side till the cream starts to come out then flip the tube and pipe in until it starts to come out that end. To serve lay the cannoli on a platter and dust well with icing sugar.