Sunday, November 29, 2009

November Daring Bakers Challenge - Cannoli!

After semi-mastering the art of macaroons last month, I went into November thinking I could definitely handle whatever the DB's threw at me this month. I greatly enjoyed furthering my baking skills and trying new things so this month I was looking forward to more of the same.

My dad joined the DB's this month, and since he was going to be visiting with the rest of my family for Thanksgiving, we decided to do the cannoli challenge together. We really enjoy cooking and baking together but since we live so far apart, we often don't have time to. My dad and I both love cannoli so we were very excited about attempting to make them together.

I was actually very lucky that we were able to bake together since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I had to have three stitches in my hand. I wasn't much help in the kitchen at all since I couldn't get it wet or use my thumb much at all!

The directions from the Daring Bakers website are as follows:

Lidisano’s Cannoli

Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli

Prep time:

Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.

Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)

Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli

Assemble – 20–30 minutes



2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).


2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.


1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

We decided to make our own marscarpone cheese for this recipe. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos, but in the end it turned out great. We followed the recipe from Baking Obsession ( We had trouble getting the cream mixture to the correct heat, but once we did everything came together very well! We stored it in the refrigerator overnight, and it was the perfect consistency when we pulled it out to make the filling the next day.
We made the filling for the cannoli, and it ended up very runny. My dad assembled it so I'm not sure what exactly made it so runny. We tried to adjust the ingredients to make it come together, but nothing seemed to work. We even placed it over cheesecloth for the night to try and drain some of the liquid, but even that did not help much. It still tasted delicious, but it was just runny.

The dough on the other hand came out perfectly! It was just the right consistency, and was springy just as it was suppose to be. It rolled out very well.


My husband likes to do workworking, and he had a left over dowel in the shed. He cut it down to three 7-8 inch pieces, and we oiled it down very well. They worked perfectly for our cannoli forms.

Since we live in on post military housing, we don't have the convenience of having a really good quality oven/stove. It is difficult to keep oil evenly heated, and it often shoots up in temperature without warming. This was my biggest concern when it came to making the cannoli shells. Fortunately, we didn't have too many problems, but I am sure a better stove would have yielded better results when it came to the shells cooking evenly.

For the first batch, I did not secure the flaps well enough with the egg white so several of them puffed apart. I also think in hindsight that our shells could have been thinner.

After all of the cannoli shells were done it was time for filling! YUM!

We decided to stick with the basic filling with mini chocolate chips and pistachio pieces.

Overall, I was once again very happy with this challenge. Considering we're not professional bakers, and we're in this to learn, we had a great time. I would definitely make these again for a special occassion!

My dad and I are both looking forward to the December challenge as we will be together for the holidays and we will complete the challenge together then!
See you again in December! :)

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