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Elizabeth Poett's Italian Sweet Cannoli

Italian Sweet Cannoli

byElizabeth Poett
Total 5 hours (includes draining the ricotta)
Active 60 mins
Makes 20 cannoli
Cannoli is such a special treat. Everytime I go to an Italian restaurant I look for it on the menu. Every bite of a good cannoli is fluffy, airy and delightful with a nice crunch from the shell. This recipe has a light, creamy filling made even more decadent with a tiny hint of orange zest and shaved chocolate. My mom loves to serve these at parties as a festive dessert instead of a cake or pie.
TIP: Be sure to add the filling to the shells right before serving to keep them crisp.
Special Equipment
cheesecloth or muslim; cannoli tubes; a 4-inch biscuit cutter; a deep-fry thermometer; a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip
Special Equipment
cheesecloth or muslim; cannoli tubes; a 4-inch biscuit cutter; a deep-fry thermometer; a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip
For the drained ricotta
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
For the dough
  • 2 cups ‘00’ pizza flour, plus more for kneading and rolling
  • 3 tablespoons shortening, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine or dry white wine
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature (reserve the egg white in a small bowl for brushing cannoli)
For the filling
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the cannoli shells
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely shaved, or 1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios, finely chopped, for dipping the tips of the cannoli
  • Powdered sugar, for serving (optional)
    1. For the drained ricotta: Place the ricotta in a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth. Balance it over a bowl. Refrigerate the ricotta and let it drain for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. When it is time to make the filling, squeeze the ricotta in the cheesecloth to remove as much excess liquid from the cheese as possible.
    2. Meanwhile, for the dough: Sift the flour into a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Add the shortening, sugar, and salt. Carefully use your fingers to coat the shortening pieces in flour. Pulse the mixture until the shortening disappears into the flour. Add the marsala, egg and egg yolk to the mixture. Process the mixture for 1 minute, or until the dough is uniform in texture and begins to hold together.
    3. Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. Use your hands to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough is sticking to your hands or the surface you can dust with a bit more flour. Divide the dough in half and pat each piece into a round. Cover each round with plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight if making ahead.
    4. For the filling: Use a sharp, heavy knife to carefully cut the chocolate off of the bar into fine shavings. Place in a bowl and set aside.
    5. Combine the drained ricotta, mascarpone and orange zest in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the cutting blade. Blend for 1 full minute. Test to make sure the texture is completely smooth, not at all gritty. Sift the powdered sugar into the mixture and continue to process for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Use a spatula to transfer the mixture into a large bowl.
    6. Use a hand mixer to whip the cream in a medium bowl until it forms stiff peaks. Use a rubber spatula to carefully fold the whipped cream into the ricotta cheese mixture. Add the shaved chocolate and mix until just combined. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    7. To make the cannoli shells: Add enough vegetable oil to a heavy pot or Dutch oven so that the oil is at least 5 to 6 inches deep. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the edge of the pot, making sure the tip is in the oil and not touching any part of the pot. Turn the heat to medium and heat the oil to 350℉.
    8. While the oil is heating, put half of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible, about 1/8 inch. Use a 4-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many rounds as you can. Flour the board again, and use a rolling pin to roll each round out into an oval that is about 4 1/2 by 6 inches in size. The dough will be almost paper-thin.
    9. Spray each cannoli tube mold with nonstick cooking spray. Wrap one dough oval around a cannoli tube. Use a pastry brush to paint a bit of the reserved egg white on the edge of the dough. Press the two edges of the dough together to seal them where they overlap on the tube.
    10. Frying the cannoli is fast, each shell taking about 25 to 30 seconds total. Lower the first cannoli on the tube carefully into the oil, using a butter knife to gently rock it around to fry it evenly. After 20 seconds of frying time, pull the cannoli and tube out of the oil with tongs. Use a butter knife to carefully tap the mold out from inside the shell. Put the shell back in the oil for 5 to 10 seconds. When the cannoli shell is light golden brown, lift it out of the oil with tongs and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to cool. Balance each shell on the lip of the pan so the oil can drain out of the shell. Repeat with the cannoli tubes and remaining dough, making about 20 shells.
    11. Once cooled, the cannoli shells can be filled and served, or stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days if making the shells ahead of time.
    12. To assemble the cannoli, put the filling in a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe the filling into each fully cooled cannoli shell. Sprinkle the ends carefully with the shaved chocolate. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the plate of cannoli for decoration if desired. Serve immediately.