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[sweets] Italian Cannoli

Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts. Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, and in fact, makes for an even creamier filling when substituted for part of the ricotta, or by itself. However, cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc. You could also add your choice of herbs, zests or spices to the dough, if desired. Marsala is the traditional wine used in cannoli dough, but any red or white wine will work fine, as it’s not only added for flavor or color, but to relax the gluten in the dough since it can be a stiff dough to work with.





How to make Cannoli without Shells/Forms/Metal tubes?
Nothing beats the original form to make a great looking Cannoli. But then here are some options you can try. I haven’t personally used any of the following (I had the forms!) but this is a concise list from internet and from fellow daring baker’s personal experiences. Hope this helps:

1. Dried cannelloni pasta tubes work just as well!
2. You can try using heavy duty aluminum foil and roll into a tight cylinder.
3. Use broomstick handles! Cut down a thin broomstick to 4-6-inch lengths (or any length you require). Wash and scrub it well with hot soapy water until clean. Make sure the surface is smooth. Rinse in hot water and dry thoroughly. Use them as it is, which proved to be quite a problem for some fellow daring bakers since the dough got stuck to it. My tip that could possibly work is to wrap the broom handle with aluminum foil and then wrap the dough on it.
4. Use steel curtain rods. Cut it into 4-6 inch pieces and use them as forms

Ingredients

    For the cannoli shells (yields about 25 cannoli)
  • 2 cups (250 grams/8.82 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 ( I used rice 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 (I used Pomegranate juice – you can use grape,apple,cranberry etc. Just add little more vinegar to the dough)
  • 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
Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough

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.

Cannoli shell preparation, cutting out the dough circles, sealing the dough around the form, frying the shells, finished shells ready to fill

Pasta Machine method:

1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.


For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 – 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.


Ingredients

For the Savory filling

  • 1 cup cannellini beans, cooked (canned works perfectly)
  • 1 small red onion,chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or as per taste)
  • 1/2-1 tsp Italian seasoning (as per taste)
  • fresh parsley/cilantro leaves for garnish, chopped
  • 1 tbsp melted butter/olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method

Its the simplest savory version you can make with delicious results. Just mash the cannellini beans well


and then add rest of the ingredients as per your taste. Blend them well.


Pipe in this filling inside the cannoli shells!


Ingredients

For the Sweet filling – from food network website

  • 1 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted and chopped finely
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup ricotta
Method

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of sugar until it holds a soft peak.


In a large bowl fold together the whipped cream, raisins, 1/3 of the chopped chocolate, 1/3 of the chopped pistachios and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Gently fold the whipped cream mixture into the ricotta. When ready to serve, spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a fat round tip.


Fill the cannoli shells from each end.

Blend the remaining chopped chocolate and pistachios on a plate.  To garnish: Dip each end of the cannoli into the chocolate pistachio mixture.

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