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.
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long but I am so thrilled I finally made the plunge and became a Daring Baker.
What was even more thrilling was the fact that I’ve never made Cannoli and I surely didn’t have any plans to. But oh my goodness am I ever so glad I got around to giving this Italian pastry a try.
While the process was a bit complex the results far made up for it. I mean come on – anything deep fried is a winner in my book. But it was the lightly spicy and cocoa flavored shell that won my heart. I adored the wart-studded exterior as it crackled under the weight of my teeth. The deep rich flavor of its bath in oil was a perfect match for the cool and subtly sweet cream.
The soft whispering flavors of cinnamon, cocoa, ginger, pepper and orange zest make this a festive and seasonal dessert that is sure to impress and delight all your holiday party guests – even if your guests are old Italian grandmothers.
adapted from Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup white wine
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)
The method below is from Lisa. I followed her directions to a “t” and I was very pleased with the results
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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
This is my very simple filling. Traditionally Cannoli are filled with a mixture of ricotta or mascarpone but I had neither on hand. This is a lightly sweet cream that paired beautifully with the crispy, spicy shell.
1 1/2 cups whipped cream or creme fraiche
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment. Beat until medium-soft peaks are formed.
Filling the Cannoli
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 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.