Sicily’s Cannoli

Sicily’s celebrated tubular confection is traditionally made with sheep’s milk ricotta, although this can be substituted with a cow’s milk version of the soft cheese.

Sicilians believe that cannoli are a seasonal food. They are only to be eaten in the spring, when the sheep have green grass to munch on and their milk is more pungent. Pre-made cannoli shells (and the aluminum tubes used to make them) can be purchased at Italian specialty stores.

From Chef Peppe Giuffrè, one of Italy’s premier caterers;

  • For the shells:
  • 10 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee, ground
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • For the filling:
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 10 1/2 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 ounces Marsala wine
  • 17-1/2 ounces finely chopped candied oranges
  • (can be replaced with or added to tiny chocolate chips)
  • 1-3/4 ounces candied cherries for decoration (or 1/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts)

To make the shells: Mix flour, butter, cocoa powder, coffee, sugar, wine and salt and knead until smooth. Shape into a ball and let rest for one hour wrapped in a cloth napkin. Roll the dough flat and cut out oval forms (about 4 inches long). Wrap oval forms around aluminum tubes that have been brushed with oil, making sure the edges overlap. Brush with egg white to seal. In a large frying pan, fry a few shells at a time in vegetable oil and drain on paper towels. When cool, remove aluminum tubes.

To make the filling: Mix ricotta, powdered sugar and Marsala and pass through a sieve. Add the chopped candied oranges (and/or chocolate chips) and set aside in a cool place.

To serve: Fill the shells with the ricotta mixture from both ends and decorate with candied fruit or chopped pistachios. Dust with confectioners sugar. Always fill shells immediately before serving to avoid soggy cannoli. Wine recommendations: Donnafugata’s Ben RyĂ© Passito di Pantelleria enjoys a particularly dedicated following of admirers thanks to its sumptuously generous aromas of honey and apricots. The sweet nectar is made with sun-dried Zibibbo grapes. “Ben RyĂ© and cannoli make a happy marriage because the wine’s acidity neutralizes the ricotta’s creaminess and leaves freshness in the mouth,” says Donnafugata’s Giacomo Rallo.

Published on July 6, 2010