Homemade Cannoli

November 26, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by Emiko
  • Makes about 20 cannoli
Author Notes

You will need cannoli tubes—small metallic tubes for rolling the dough around (something like these)—to make this recipe.

I was inspired to try making these after tasting the crisp, ricotta-filled cannoli, dipped on both sides in chopped pistachios, at Caffe dell'Arte in the beautiful baroque town of Modica. I adapted a recipe I found in a Sicilan cookbook by Eleonora Consoli called La Cucina del Sole. It's one of these books that has no pictures and assumes you already know your way around a Sicilian kitchen.

Making them at home, I realized, is doable and not too tricky—if you follow some important tips:
-- Investing in a candy thermometer is handy for good frying results, but if you don't have one, throw a cube of bread into the hot oil to test if it's ready. It should brown in about 15 seconds.
--Roll out small portions of dough at a time—so thin that it's nearly transparent—and keep the rest of the dough chilled in the meantime.
-- A touch of beaten egg white will help hold the pastry ends together while frying. It's not traditional and expert Sicilian nonnas manage to make these without, but if you find the cannoli are opening during frying, then this will greatly help you.
-- You can make both the dough and the filling ahead of time.
-- Always fill the cannoli just before you want to serve them.

Variations: Some like to add a teaspoon of bittersweet cocoa powder in the dough for color. In terms of decorating, you can use whatever you like here, from chopped dark chocolate to pistachios to candied fruit (cherries and orange in particular). You can even mix candied orange or chocolate chips into the ricotta. Or, instead of ricotta, you can use pastry cream or chocolate pastry cream. —Emiko

What You'll Need
  • For the pastry:
  • 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) melted butter (or, more traditional, lard)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (70 milliliters) water (or white wine or marsala), or as needed
  • 3 cups (roughly) vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 egg white (optional)
  • For the filling:
  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) fresh ricotta
  • 1 cup (225 grams) superfine sugar
  • splash of milk, if needed
  • chopped pistachios, dark chocolate, or candied fruit, for decoration (optional)
  • confectioners' sugar, for decoration (optional)
  1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, melted butter or lard, vinegar, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the water (or wine) bit by bit until you have a smooth, compact dough—you may not need any liquid it all. You may need to work this (kneading) quite a bit until it is soft and smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the filling: Combine the ricotta with sugar and whip until you have a creamy consistency. If you need to loosen it, add a splash of milk. Chill until needed.
  3. Cut off small, mandarin-sized portions of dough to work with at a time. Keep the rest wrapped and chilling in fridge. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a long rectangular shape until very thin, about 1-millimeter thickness (you should be able to nearly see through it!). Trim the edges and cut the piece of dough into 4- by 4-inch (10- by 10-centimeter) squares.
  4. Place a cannoli tube on the corner of a square. Roll the tube to wrap the pastry around it and seal the opposite corner of the pastry by pressing gently (you can also dab a bit of egg white on the corners to seal more effectively).
  5. In a small saucepan that will fit 2 to 3 cannoli tubes easily, heat enough vegetable oil so that the pastries will be covered. Over medium-low heat, heat the oil (if you have a candy thermometer, you want to reach about 330° F/165° C; see note above if not). When ready, cook 2 to 3 cannoli at a time, keeping a careful eye on them as they can brown too quickly or unroll themselves if they haven't been sealed well. When they are a deep brown color and the surface is bubbly and crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and carefully place on kitchen paper to drain. Do not remove the tubes until they are completely cool.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the dough. If they are coloring too quickly, the oil is too hot, so turn it down a notch and wait a few minutes before proceeding.
  7. To assemble cannoli, just before serving, pipe the ricotta (or carefully spoon it with a teaspoon) into each cooled cannolo tube to fill. Then decorate as desired: Dust with powdered sugar, dip the ends into chopped chocolate or pistachios, or simply pop a candied cherry on one end. Or mix them up!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Crystal Taylor Mullins
    Crystal Taylor Mullins
  • Joanne
  • Emiko
  • nicole.lee

10 Reviews

nicole.lee November 13, 2016
I was searching for a new dough recipe and this is it! I doubled the dough (I like mine a little thicker) and got about 35 cannolis using white wine & melted butter. The cinnamon is a great touch. My dough was super elastic, so I rolled it out to a little less than 1/4" thick, cut it out in 3" rounds, and then rolled them into thinner ovals before wrapping around the cannoli mold and sealing with the egg wash. So delicious, thanks for sharing!
Luiz January 10, 2016
For the filling you mean 1 teaspoon of sugar but you describe 240g. Did you mean 1 cup instead of teaspoon?
Emiko January 11, 2016
Thanks for picking that up! Yes, 1 cup.
Michele December 12, 2015
By lard, do you mean shortening?
Emiko December 14, 2015
Lard is pure pig fat, you can often find it near the butter or shortening in a supermarket. It is quite easy to find here in Italy but I wouldn't recommend vegetable shortening for this, butter would simply be better.
Crystal T. December 2, 2015
Did you strain the ricotta before making the filling? In all the other recipes I've looked at they have said to line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth place ricotta on top of cloth cover with cloth and place a plate with something heavy on top ( large can of tomatoes) in fridge overnight to drain excess liquid. Asking because I REALLY want to make homemade cannoli for our Christmas dinner dessert (I went out and bought the forms today!!). Thanks bunches for your help!!
Emiko December 3, 2015
No I didn't strain it and the reasons for this are a couple: one is I used sheeps milk ricotta and I bought it absolutely fresh, not in a tub (I live in Italy so this is common), so it's very firm already and can stand up on its own! The other reason is you actually want a very creamy filling, to the point where you actually can add milk to the filling if it it too stiff. So I would definitely recommend using the kind of ricotta that you buy by the weight (Italian delis should carry this) and that is already quite firm rather than the industrial stuff that comes in tubs and is more yogurt-like in terms of consistency. Then you don't need to worry about straining it (and the flavour and texture are much better too) and you have better control over the final texture of the filling as you can choose to add milk if it is too stiff (it's more difficult to do the other way round and 'firm up' the filling once it's mixed!). Hope that helps!
Joanne December 2, 2015
During my Sicily trip in February I took a cooking class and we made cannoli so. Two "musts" she advised in the shells are to always use lard and the other Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa, Solidaridad, Riviera Mayaas to add 95 percent grain alcohol or Everclear. I would replace the vinegar in this recipe with the alcohol. It makes the shells quite bubbly with air holes. It makes for some really great cannoli shells.
Joanne December 2, 2015
Please disregard the part about Grand Palladium, etc. somehow pasted a site on my comment!! The second must our chef gave was Everclear or pure grain alcohol. You can get it at the liquor store. She had lemon peel marinating in her bottle of alcohol so I also do that.
Emiko December 2, 2015
It's true! Lard makes everything better -- it's also what makes it so lovely and flaky/crunchy. But seeing as not everyone may want to use lard I replaced it with butter here -- the original recipe uses the same quantity of lard. The vinegar is part of the original, traditional recipe too but I know not everyone uses it. Some white wine could replace it if you prefer.