The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
I had mixed feelings about this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I absolutely adore cannoli. However, when this month’s challenge was revealed at the beginning of the month, I had just held my Italian birthday dinner and made homemade cannoli. It was a bit of an ordeal, and I’m not a huge fan of deep frying, so I wasn’t quite ready to do it again.
The good thing about this challenge, though, was that I had just made homemade cannoli! This was one Daring Bakers challenge that I might actually be able to conquer! So, while I was tempted to skip the challenge, citing my previous experience with cannoli, I decided to give the cannoli a second try. After all, I figured I could use a Daring Baker success instead of my usual failures!
Perhaps I was a bit too confident, though. I found that my second attempt at cannoli was a bit more difficult than the first. The recipe was a bit different than the one that I used before. I may have over-worked the dough a bit, because I found it to be rather elastic and difficult to roll. I didn’t have that difficulty the first time around.
I decided to halve the recipe, and only about one half of the shells that I made turned out correctly. The key was to roll the dough out until it was paper thin. Otherwise, the shells wouldn’t blister and have the desired flakey texture. Instead they were thick and tough. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten out my pasta machine to roll the dough. The ones that did turn out were pretty good, though!
I filled the cannoli with my pumpkin mousse instead of a traditional ricotta filling. Instead of sprinkling with powdered sugar, I sprinkled with cinnamon. Both my hubby and I enjoyed the pumpkin spice twist on cannoli.
Overall, I’m glad that I tried this new recipe for cannoli shells, but I think that I will be going back to my original recipe next time around. You can view recipe for cannoli shells provided for the Daring Bakers challenge below.
- 2 cups (250 grams/16 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
Directions for Cannoli Shells
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.
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.
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, oiled..lol). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pasta Machine Method for Cannoli Shells
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through
Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.
Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.
To Assemble the Cannoli
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.
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.
Note – The regularly scheduled Friday Favorites will continue next Friday!