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Chocolate Chunk Cannolis

February 16, 2009

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When B and I lived in Boston, one of our favorite places to get desserts from was Mike’s Pastry, in the North End neighborhood, home of many Italian restaurants and shops. Actually, I shouldn’t say “desserts” — plural — because really, it was mainly cannolis, of the chocolate chip variety (though I did also love their tiramisu.)

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Early in our newlywed life together, B surprised me one day with a few metal cannoli forms, and the idea that we should try to make them together at home. Okay! Yes! I am always up for trying to figure out how to reproduce something I’ve eaten and loved in my own kitchen. So one weekend, we made our first attempt, which, as first attempts often go, did not turn out so wonderfully. The filling was delicious, just sweetened ricotta with a little orange zest and vanilla, but we didn’t roll the dough for the shells thinly enough, and then didn’t fry them at a high enough temperature, which resulted in thick, greasy, kind of tough, doughy cannoli shells. Blah.

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Our second batch was better; we rolled them as thinly as we possibly could by hand and fried them hotter, but still found they were a little on the thick side. Not terrible, but nowhere near the same league as Mike’s.

dough for the shells

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B patting the dough down

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rolling the dough through the pasta machine – two pairs of hands helps

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we started running out of room to put the cut-out circles of dough

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This past weekend, we made another attempt, using my new-ish pasta machine. We knew we could get the dough thinner this way than we’d been able to with hand-rolling them. And ooooooh, they are good. We had a few mishaps on our first few….

keep them loosely rolled around the forms — like this:

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not like this:

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or else they’ll stick to the forms and you’ll have to pry them off, like this:

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…but after we figured out that we needed to keep them loosely rolled around the thin end of the form, and keep the dough protruding out a bit from the end of the form, we were golden. Problem solved.

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After the shells were all fried, crispy and light, I piped them full of the ricotta filling, which is just whole milk ricotta (drained overnight to get rid of any excess liquid), sweetened with powdered sugar and flavored with the zest of an orange and some vanilla extract. I had mixed some finely chopped dark chocolate into the ricotta filling (yum), and I sprinkled some additional chopped chocolate and chopped pistachios on the ends of each of the cannolis.

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Oh, they’re so tasty! B brought some in to work with him for co-workers, and I saved a few for us and some friends, too. We’re a good team. :)

that’s four bites of amazing, right there

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Chocolate Chunk Cannolis

view printable recipe

Ingredients
For the shell dough:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
scant 3/4 cup Marsala wine
2 quarts canola or other flavorless oil, for frying

For the filling:

30 ounces whole milk ricotta, drained overnight in a colander lined with cheesecloth
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup finely chopped chocolate, plus more for sprinkling on the ends of the filled cannolis
chopped pistachios, for sprinkling on the ends of the filled cannolis
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Equipment
cannoli forms (can be found at Sur la Table)
a pasta machine or pasta-making attachment for your electric mixer
deep-fat frying thermometer
4-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter (or other round form that can cut 4-inch circles)

Directions
The day before you’re going to make the cannolis, drain the ricotta overnight in the refrigerator, either in a fine-mesh seive over a bowl or in a colander lined with cheesecloth — basically, anything so that the excess liquid can drain out of the ricotta.

The next day, mix together the drained ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and chocolate chunks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

For the shells: mix together the flour, sugar, and pinch of salt. Mix in the melted butter and Marsala wine, continuing to mix until a dough comes together. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes until it is smooth and supple, then wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2-3 hours.

When you’re ready to make the cannolis, start heating your oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until it comes to 350 degrees F. Divide your shell dough into quarters, and working with a quarter at a time, roll it through the pasta maker a few times on the widest setting, folding it back over on itself after every pass through. This just smooths the dough out a little. Once you have a smooth, flat piece of dough (shouldn’t look shaggy at this point), keep passing it through the machine, cranking down the opening size to be a little narrower each pass through. You can lightly dust it with a little flour if it gets too sticky. My machine goes from 7 to 1, and I found that the dough was thin enough by the time I got to 3. You want it thin, but not so thin that it tears and rips. After this piece of dough is completely rolled and thin, cut it with a 4-inch circular cutter into rounds, and set the rounds aside. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 quarters of dough, and with any scraps leftover after cutting the dough into rounds.

Once your oil is up to temperature, place a cooling rack with a paper towel next to the pot (this is where you’ll put your just-cooked cannoli shells to cool.) Working in batches, wrap the round of dough kind of loosely around the thin end of the cannoli forms, sealing the seam with a little egg white if you like (see picture above). You want to be sure the seam is firmly pressed together, so it doesn’t come undone in the hot oil. Working with metal tongs, transfer the cannoli forms with the dough wrapped around them to the pot, and fry until golden brown….we found this took about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and cool on the rack, then slide the form out of the shell (you can re-use the forms for the next batch of shells.)

Once all the shells are fried and cooled, pipe the ricotta filling into them with either a pastry bag fitted with a large, wide tip or with a plastic bag that you’ve cut the corner off of. Sprinkle the ends with chopped chocolate and pistachios. Serve the cannolis relatively soon after they’ve been filled, so they don’t get soggy.

Makes about 2 dozen cannolis.

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2009 4:23 pm

    I adore cannolis and haven’t found them in the new city I live in. Also, I had no idea that I could make them at home…. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!!

  2. February 16, 2009 4:42 pm

    Those look absolutely delicious! I had not idea you could make the dough in a pasta maker! Looks like a fun project. I’ve been to Mike’s Pastry once, and still have dreams about it. Best bakery ever!

  3. February 16, 2009 4:56 pm

    Wow Amy! Those are just amazing. I love all the tips on the dough you’ve given. I wish I still had a pasta maker, but an ex boyfriend ran off with it (it may have been his to begin with, actually). I’ll start keeping my eyes open for the materials!

  4. February 16, 2009 6:44 pm

    Awesome job! I’ve always wanted to try my hand at these. Thanks for the wonderful step by step pics!

  5. February 16, 2009 7:11 pm

    Wow! I don’t really love cannolis, but your tutorial totally makes me want to try! Especially since I have a as yet unused new pasta maker that I have been dying to use for pastries and crackers and just things that I am terrible at rolling out normally. Fun!

  6. February 16, 2009 7:44 pm

    oh wow.. i absolutely adore cannolis, thanks heaps for the recipe, i’ll definitely try it out.

  7. February 16, 2009 10:24 pm

    These cannoli’s are quite sinful. aren’t they!!!!! Nevertheless a little indulgence never killed anyone!!! It is amazing that you did not give up, well done! Give your “partner-in-crime” a pat on the back too!!!

  8. February 16, 2009 11:21 pm

    when i saw the picture on TasteSpotting, i totally thought you made the cannolis with AVOCADO. :)

  9. February 17, 2009 1:38 am

    Yay for teamwork! They look terrific. I’ve never actually had one before… and now you have piqued my curiosity. Mmmmmm. It’s a great feeling to be able to make stuff yourself when you live in a place where you can’t easily go out and buy them. Nice job.

  10. February 17, 2009 3:53 am

    I’ve never had one of these but they do look fantastic, maybe if I manage to get to Italy or NY this year I’ll manage it!

  11. February 17, 2009 5:28 am

    I just love pistachios on anything – I think it is the fun green color. Great project idea to fill up a winter weekend afternoon – I haven’t had a really good cannoli before, so I wish I could stop by and pick up some of your extras!!

  12. oneordinaryday permalink
    February 17, 2009 7:34 am

    I love cannoli and can’t find them where we live. I actually looked all over the place when we first moved here and was directed to the PASTA section more times than I could count. Thanks for the tutorial. I’ll bookmark it for sure.
    Michelle

    http://oneordinaryday.wordpress.com

  13. February 17, 2009 8:59 am

    I wonder if a tortilla press would achieve the same effect as the pasta machine.

  14. February 17, 2009 9:13 am

    i love cannolis, and these look fantastic :)

  15. February 17, 2009 9:39 am

    I’ve been asked to bring cannoli to a family wine pairing dinner and have never made them. Needless to say, it makes me a little worried. Your cannoli has inspired me and maybe I’ll get a pasta attachment for the kitchenaid to assist me in my venture. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips. Maybe I can make cannolis. How far in advance do you think I could make the shells?

  16. February 17, 2009 10:34 am

    leave the gun, take the cannoli? no–leave everything and take the cannoli! these are STELLAR. :)

  17. February 17, 2009 12:05 pm

    Cool! What an adventure (and an excuse to use the pasta roller too …).

  18. February 17, 2009 2:02 pm

    Those look delicious. You are VERY ambitious. I couldn’t even imagine making the shells myself!!

  19. February 17, 2009 8:22 pm

    M.a. – enjoy!

    BMK – it’s so good, isn’t it? I miss it!

    Andrea – thanks! (Too bad the ex-bf absconded w/the pasta machine….)

    Pennies on a Platter – thanks!

    Laura – ooh, crackers would be delicious.

    linda – enjoy!

    nina – yes, they’re quite a delicious treat. :)

    sarah – avocado on cannolis would have been…um…interesting..but no, pistachios are much better!

    Jen – thanks :) agreed; it’s a great feeling to be able to replicate something yourself in your own kitchen.

    Rachel – yup, I’m sure you could get plenty of excellent cannolis in NY or Italy! :)

    sue bette – I know, if VT was closer I would have set a few aside for you! I agree with the fun color of the pistachios.

    oneordinaryday – enjoy!

    JS – maybe, though I”m not sure offhand how thin the press can get the dough? Worth a shot!

    ttfn300 – thanks!

    megan – absolutely; you can make them a few days ahead and just keep them in an airtight container…you could fill them the same day you’re going to serve them. Good luck!

    grace – ha! I had forgotten about that scene… :)

    Kristin – yes, any excuse I have to use it :)

    debbie – thanks!

  20. February 18, 2009 12:49 pm

    Great tips in here for the shells. I have had problems getting them off my tubes after frying. Will try again with your method here. Thanks!

  21. Betsy permalink
    February 18, 2009 3:11 pm

    I don’t like cannolis that much, but your entry has made me want to eat one right now!

  22. February 20, 2009 2:23 pm

    The filling looks so delicious! I would love to make some myself too!

  23. February 22, 2009 3:11 pm

    Your food looks wonderful and you take some really great photos! What kind of camera and lens are you using?
    Dana

  24. February 24, 2009 6:52 pm

    Your cannolis look amazing ! Another great receipe to try from your blog. )

  25. April 1, 2009 1:26 pm

    I have to make homemade cannoli in a few weeks for our Gourmet Club party… glad to find your tips as inspiration! I hadn’t thought of using the pasta machine, but it sounds like it might be a good idea. Thanks!

  26. April 25, 2009 7:58 pm

    Your cannoli look yummy!!! I will have to make these sans pistachios. Is there a substitute for the alcohol?

  27. Rebecca permalink
    February 8, 2010 4:07 pm

    Hi,

    I’m from Costa Rica, I can’t found the ricotta milk here, so the question is, what substitute can I use instead of ricotta milk?

    Thanks a lot

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