Cannoli are Italian pastries originating from the island of Sicily. A staple of Sicilian cuisine, they are also popular in Italian-American cuisine.
Cannoli get their name from the Italian word “cannolo” which means “little tube”. They consist of tube shaped shells of pastry dough which are fried in oil and then piped with a velvety filling of sweetened ricotta cheese.
Since no one wants to be standing over a pot of hot oil to make pastries during the dogs days of August, I’ve provided a variant of this recipe which uses store bought pizzele for the tube shaped shells. Pizzelle are traditional Italian waffle cookies which come from Ortona in the Abruzzo region of Central Italy. For this recipe, the pizzelle are softened in the microwave, then shaped into the cannoli form.
There is no cooking or baking necessary for this simplified and enlightened version of the traditional cannoli recipe. You can make the pizzelle cannoli shells days ahead of time. Since the filling takes just minutes to whip together, make sure to fill the pizzelle cannoli right before serving so they retain their crispness. The contrast between the crisp pizzelle cannoli and the rich and creamy filling is divine. Pizzelle cannoli is a decadent, yet light dessert that will satisfy your sweet tooth and evoke the regions of Sicily and Abruzzo. Buon Appetito!
- 12 to 16 pizzelle*
- 1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups mascarpone cheese**
- ¾ confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Marsala wine, optional
- 1 teaspoon orange rind, optional
- 1 teaspoon lemon rind, optional
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup pistachios, chopped, optional
Place 1 pizzelle at a time on a paper plate into the microwave on medium power for about 50 seconds, or until softened. Remove and quickly roll around a cannoli tube or the handle of a wooden mixing spoon. It will harden quickly into a cylindrical cannoli shape.
Place ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and cinnamon into a medium mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until well combined and fluffy. Add the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy and can be piped through a pastry bag. If more intense flavoring is desired, add the optional Marsala wine, orange rind and lemon rind.
Place the filling into a baggie (snip off the tip) or a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch tip and pipe the filling into both ends of the cannoli shells. Garnish with the mini chocolate chips or the chopped pistachios.
To ensure that the cannoli remain crisp, serve immediately or within ½ hour of preparing
*I use store bought pizzelle. My favorite brand is Reko pizzelle. I have found them in Shop Rite, Costco and Cost Plus World Market.
**Okay to substitute with ricotta cheese