When I first made homemade cannoli from scratch I didn’t really know what I was doing, nor did I have access to very good ricotta cheese. That’s changed a bit over the years. Now I sort of know what I’m doing, and I can definitely find good ricotta cheese here in Chicago.
Homemade Cannoli Filling
For the filling I used to always use a combination of ricotta cheese, cream cheese and whipped cream. To make the cannoli filling extra smooth, I press out any extra liquid and process it in the food processor. With good quality ricotta cheese you may be able to skip that step, but since you are going to have the food processor out for the shells anyway, processing it a bit doesn’t hurt.
Frying Pastry Shells
As for the shells, the method for making them is similar to making pie dough, but instead of making one big crust you make 10 little 5 inch rounds, shape them on cannoli forms, then deep fry. Deep frying is the part I don’t like, but using peanut oil makes the process more pleasant.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the shells, you can usually find Alessi brand in big grocery stores.
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese — I like a brand called BelGioso
- 2 oz cream cheese softened (or mascaprone)
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar use more if desired
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice optional
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream or 1/2 cup whipped topping**
- 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels
Cannoli Shells — Use Store Bought or This Recipe
- 2 cups minus 2 T flour 230 grams (weigh the flour for best results)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup dry white wine plus water if needed can also use brewed coffee
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- Oil for frying
- Place ricotta cheese on a stack of paper towels and blot out any excess moisture. If you use good ricotta, you probably won’t get much drainage. Transfer to food processor. Add cream cheese and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape sides of bowl. Process a little more, then add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and lemon juice; process for another 30 seconds.
- Whip the cream with a handheld mixer and fold into the cheese.
- To make shells, mix flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture is coarse. Combine egg yolk, wine and vanilla and add to processor. Pulse until mixer comes together. If mixture still seems too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together when pinched. Empty onto a sheet of waxed paper and shape into a ball. Let stand for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use.
- Divide dough into 10 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Press and then roll each ball into a very thin circle.
- Roll each circle of dough around a metal cannoli tube, overlapping the ends and press to seal. Try not to press the dough on too tight or the cannoli shell will be more difficult to remove.
- Fry two at a time in about a 1 inch of peanut oil for approximately 1-3 minutes, turning to brown all side. Remove from oil and set on paper towels to drain. Let cool for a few minutes, then carefully slide from tubes.
Pearl of the Dark Age
You’re very welcome, and thank you, Anna, for replying! I feel special! I honestly didn’t mind the texture at all. I’m certain it is from the ricotta, as the ricotta does have the same exact texture… I don’t know if they sell Polly-O in Southern California. I’ll have to look around.
I used to have a blender, but I dropped it on one sad, sad day… I miss that blender. It may have been that avocado green that used to be popular decades ago, but the pitcher part of it was made from old-fashioned quality glass you just can’t find anymore. I guess technically I do have a mixer, too, but that belongs to my mom, and I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of getting it.
I guess with the shells I had beginner’s luck, or maybe they’re just not that hard for me to make. I don’t know. I didn’t like putting the dough on the wax paper, because the wax paper stuck to it like no one’s business! Maybe I’ll just use my cutting board next time. Oh, and I also sprayed the cannoli tubes with canola oil before wrapping the dough around it. That might be why I had such an easy time with it.
I had a lot of fun making it, even if I didn’t have so much fun cleaning up after. No one in my household wanted to eat the cannoli I made, because they all said they were on a diet. I enjoyed every single one! They’re delicious, and I offer my gratuities again to you for the recipe! Thank you!!!
Pearl, thanks for telling me about your cannoli making experience. About the graininess, that could either be from the white chocolate in the sauce or (like you said) the ricotta. I find that different brands of ricotta have different textures. I haven’t bought any in a while, but there’s a brand called “Polly O” that usually mixes up pretty smooth. Also, the food processor helps in that department. You could still get it smooth beating by hand, but it would take more elbow grease.
Congratulations on making the shells! They take a lot of practice, and I have to admit I usually just buy the pre-made ones. The scratch ones taste so much better, though.
Pearl of the Dark Age
I’ve been dying to try cannoli ever since I saw them on the show “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Deciding I’d rather make them from scratch than go out and buy them pre-made, I found this recipe while I was browsing the net. This is the one I want to try! So, I went out and bought myself cannoli tubes (aka forms) at Bristol Farms, and I bought the ricotta at Trader Joe’s. I thought I’d try mascarpone instead of cream cheese, so I hope that’s okay. I’ll be writing this comment as I make it…
I just finished making the filling. It tastes great! I added white chocolate sauce instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips. It has a tiny, tiny amount of graininess to it from the ricotta still, too. Please keep in mind I don’t own a mixer, blender, or food processor. This is all done by hand… Now, to make the shells!
The dough is a little damp, but it seems alright. I am eating my dinner now as I wait for 30 minutes to let it sit. The next part should be easy, I think.
Well, I’m all done, and it all turned out pretty good for a first timer. I think next time I won’t skimp out on the whipped cream, and I’ll try to make my shells a little thinner. Thanks to you and Sal for the recipe! I really appreciated it!
Yummm, Cannoli Siciliani! I’m from NY so I was spoiled my whole life with excellent Cannoli! Once I moved to Florida I was shocked to see how badly some people could mess this pastry up. If the shell isn’t crisp, and the filling is too tart, its just BAD. I did a mini semester abroad in Italy this past summer for Art History, but my host institution was actually a Culinary School, so we took some culinary classes. Below is the link to the recipe I got from culinary school, filling made with Ricotta. SLURP! This cannoli was different from the ones I grew up with – the filling was not quite as thick, but they were stilllll delicious. Feel free to give this one a try! —
Anna – Canolis are to me like pumpkin is to you. And I’ve had the best and I’ve made them from scratch. No matter what I do I don’t like them. But your photo is beautiful.
That looks amazing! I think I would try to buy the ones though. That’s a lot of work!
On my mom’s side I have a Sicilian Italian heritage — grew up eating these in New York at the best small italian bakeries– absolutely love them. recently tried them at Cinzetti’s here at Kansas City — and definitely a grainy filling. Must be smooth — you are so right.
But I still ate two … they were mini ones so that’s okay right? LOL!
I LOVE Cannolis! My boyfriend introduced them to me and I knew I had to learn how to make them on my own. I’m still trying to find the filling I like.. I can’t get the cream thick! Your recipe looks awesome. I wonder instead of cream cheese.. if mascarpone would work too? I also never tried whipping cream into the filling? Is that how they make it thick?
I’m so glad to see you made a post on cannolis!
Heather - Ghost Baker
Anna, I absolutely love cannoli! The last time I ordered it at a restaurant, the waitress talked to me for 5 minutes about how bad cannoli is for you! I’ll have to try to make it myself, this time without the lecture 🙂
Love canolli! And that one looks about perfect! Homemade shells, just fried are so good I can eat them without the filling! You’re gonna have fun in the Cannolerias ;)!
I have a new pizzelle maker that I planned on making cannoli with. I am so glad you posted thid filling recipe. Now I won’t have to look any further for one. Thank you!
These look awesome. I have never made my own shells before. I cheat and just fill the prepackaged shells.
I’ve been wanting to try Cannoli for forever! Perhaps soon I’ll work up my courage…
Thanks for the recipe.
I haven’t had these in years, and never attempted to make them on my own. But I have always thought of doing a veggie cannoli. Sounds good if done right, you know?
I saw the shells at the store last week and considered making some! YUM thanks for the recipe!
My birthday was yesterday, and my (Italian) mother made cannoli for dessert. They had dried cherries in the filling (no chocolate – it’s not a favorite of mine) and crushed pistachios on the ends. They’re one of my favorites and they were delicious!
GREAT looking cannoli! Way to make ’em from scratch! Have never attempted to make them, but my husband loves those.
If you have a pasta roller (either as an attachment for a KitchenAid mixer or the stand-alone unit) you can use that to roll the dough. Much easier if you have a motorized version!
omg this post is like music to my ears… but not to my waist LOL
Those look fantastic!
There are some really good Italian restaurants in Chicago. I think I’ll try cannoli the next time I’m there. I’ve never found a good smooth Ricotta cheese, so I doubt I’ll ever make these. 🙁