I’m just gonna start out by saying – cannolis are a lot of work. Not hard work – definitely fun work, but a lot of work, nonetheless.You have to really love cannolis, or have this insane drive to make everything from scratch. Ideally, you should have a combination of both incentives to get you through the process.
There, you’ve been warned.
To start, you need to purchase cannoli tubes. Both Jeremy and I thought really hard to think of something we had on hand that we could use, but the fact is, there is nothing hanging around the average kitchen (or garage) that can replace them. They are stainless steel tubes, about the size of a small hot dog, hollow inside. But their cheap, so just get yourself a box.
Also, you may want to watch some video tutorials on YouTube, which is what I did – jotting down notes on your recipe. (Here’s the recipe I used)
The dough is a simple mix of flour, sugar, salt, and, for a little flavor, instant espresso and cocoa powder.
You add melted butter and enough dry white wine to bond it together.
At this point you wrap it in saran and refrigerate it for 30 min. Meanwhile, you can heat your oil (of course, I used lard) and clear a spot on your counter to roll out your dough. (OH, your counter was already clean? Good for you.)
You have to roll the dough really thin, so I got out my massive rolling pin. It is literally the size of my calf. If you have a pasta roller, that would be ideal. I only found out after I fried my shells that I would have liked the dough even thinner than the 1/8 inch I achieved with my rolling pin.
I didn’t get a picture of me shaping the dough around the tubes – I was too busy! But, like I said – watch the videos on YouTube if you have questions. Just don’t forget to seal them well with the beaten egg, or they unroll when you put them in the hot oil, and it’s a complete waste.
Ask me how I know.
Here’s the finished product. Now, you pack them all in a nice, sealed container and put them away for a few days and take a break. That’s what I did. It took literally 4 hours to roll and fry all the shells because you only can do 4 at a time, and the tubes have to cool in between batches or you burn your fingers. It was a long evening! Thankfully, the shells keep well for a week or two, so it’s fine to make them in advance and then rest for a few days. 🙂
When you’re ready to think about cannolis again, it’s time to make the filling. Please use good quality ricotta, not skim! And all the instructions say to drain it for an hour before using it. Well, the second time I made it, I set my ricotta to strain and then got interupted. It sat in the fridge like this for literally two days,a nd started to get a little dried out on top. And it made a better filling. You really don’t want it runny. So, drain that ricotta well, then BEAT it till it is as smooth as cream cheese. Sweeten and flavor as desired (I used a little orange liquor the second time around and it was just perfect!)
Finally, the fun part. It’s nice to have a handy dandy piping tool for this to make the filling pretty, but totally not necessary, especially if you’re gonna dip the ends in mini chocolate chips. Which, of course, I totally recommend. You can just use a ziplock bag with a corner cut off. Do start at one end, fill it from the middle out, then turn it around and finish filling it.
Don’t forget to dust them with powdered sugar. I didn’t – but I accidently erased the picture of the finished product. It was lovely, trust me. Worth all the work? Yeah. But I’m not planning on making cannolis again for a very long time. Traditionally, the Italians make them once a year at Easter.
Now I know why. 🙂