Cannoli

For making cannoli ideally you should use metal tubes, which you may find in major department stores and speciality kitchen shops. Alternatively, you could use 2 cm wide wooden or cane doweling, cut into 12 cm lengths. Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. They are also popular in Italian American cuisine. In Italy, they are commonly known as “cannoli siciliani”, Sicilian cannoli. The versions with which Americans are most familiar tend to involve variations on the original concept. This is possibly due to adaptations made by Italians who emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s and discovered limited availability of certain ingredients. The cannoli sold in Italian-American bakeries today usually still contain ricotta, but mascarpone is a less-common alternative. Rarely, the filling is a simple custard of sugar, milk, and cornstarch.

Ingredients:

For pastry

155 g plain flour

2 tsp cocoa powder

1 tsp caster sugar

25 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into a small cubes

3 tbsp dry white wine

1 tsp dry Marsala

1 egg, beaten

oil for deep frying

Filling

300 g ricotta cheese

145 g caster sugar

¼ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp grated lemon zest

1 tbsp candied peel, finely chopped

6 glacé cherries, chopped

15 g dark chocolate, grated

icing sugar

cannoli

Preparation:

To make the pastry, mix the flour, coffee and sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter, then add the wine and Marsala and mix until the dough gathers in a loose clump. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (the dough will be quite stiff). Chill in a plastic bag for 30 minutes.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the pastry out to about 32 x 24 cm. Trim the edges, then cut the pastry into twelve 8 cm squares. Lightly oil the metal cannoli tubes. Wrap the pastry square diagonally around each tube, securing the overlapping corners with beaten egg and pressing them firmly together.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or deep frying pan to about 180°C, or until a scrap of pastry dropped into the oil becomes golden, with slightly blistered surface, in 15 – 20 seconds. If the oil starts to smoke it is too hot. Add the cannoli, a couple at the time, and deep-fry until golden and crisp. Remove with tongs and drain on the paper towels. As soon as the tubes are cool enough to handle, slide them out and leave the pastries on a rack to cool.

To make the filling, mash the ricotta cheese with a fork. Blend in the sugar and vanilla extract, then mix in the lemon zest, candied peel, cherries and chocolate. Fill the pastries, either with a piping bag or a spoon. Arrange on a plate and dust with icing sugar for serving. The cannoli should be eaten soon after they are filled.

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