An Italian pastry dessert consisting of a fried tube-shaped shell filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta cheese filling. Candy, fruit, chocolate chips, or even citrus peel shavings are sometimes added to the filling to vary the flavor, and by the same token, the shells are sometimes dipped in chocolate. In my opinion, however, they are best served plain, either homemade or from the old-time Italian bakery on the corner (if you can find one).

Cannoli originated in Sicily centuries ago. It is suspected that they came about as a result of Arab influence on the region. Over time they became a special pastry offered during the Italian feast of Carnevale. Now they can be found in fine Italian bakeries and restaurants everywhere.

The word "cannoli" is the plural form of the Italian word "cannolo" which literally translates to "little tube." I wish that I had a decent recipe for these tasty little tubes to offer. Hopefully a fellow noder can oblige.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." - Pete Clemenza, "The Godfather"

First of all, they call this dessert "sicilian cannoli" for a reason. I expect that some of the ingredients are hard to find outside Italy; use your taste and imagination to replace what you can't find.

Next, don't ask me how many cannoli you can make with the bill of materials listed below. It depends on the size of the aluminum pipes you'll use to shape the shells, so you can make several finger-sized cannoli or a single behemoth that will kill cows at 30 paces. There isn't a standard size even in Sicily: a friend from Castellammare brought me some cannoli as thick as my wrist; I was used to the 3 cm calibre, so I had some trouble downing one of his (not for the taste, that was delicious, but for the sheer sugar content).



For the shells:

For the filling:

  • 800g of ricotta cheese, quite fresh and made from sheep's milk. Not the salty kind (ricotta salata).
  • 200g of chipped dark chocolate
  • 350g of sugar (in case your nutritionist hasn't committed suicide yet)
  • 50g of powdered sugar
  • 100g of candied orange peel, cherries or similar for decoration (nail in the coffin, anyone?)

Mix together flour, sugar, marsala, salt and strutto in the mixing bowl until you get a firm, soft mass. Let it rest for half an hour, then roll it - not too thin, or you'll get broken shells. Cut it into disks whose size depends on the diameter of your aluminum pipes - when you roll the disks around the pipe they should overlap a bit. Wet the overlapping part with some water (or egg white, if you feel like it) so that the shell will keep its shape. Fry the shells until they are golden-brown, let them cool and then remove the pipes (yes, you have just fried aluminum. The tubes must be removed after you fry the shells).

(NOTE: the empty shells will keep for about ten days, but they must be filled only a few minutes before serving, or the cannoli will be soggy. If you line the inside with chocolate icing you can fill them up to one hour before serving).

Use a cotton cloth to drain the whey out of ricotta; sift it and mix it with sugar until it's firm and creamy. Add the chocolate chips, stir a bit and fill the shells almost to the point of overflowing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and put some candied fruit at both ends.

(Whew, it's over. I thought that my command of English was adequate, but it's the first time that I have written a recipe in what is - for me - a foreign language. If I've made some horrible mistakes in naming a common tool or similar, please /msg me).

You can find some photos of a step-by-step cannolo making at

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