Sicilian Cannoli are the most famous dessert of the Sicilian tradition. Making them at home is not difficult: only a few high quality ingredients and the right tools in the kitchen and you’re done! The Sicilian cannoli recipe is ready!
Sicilian Cannoli are a greedy pleasure, which combines the crunchiness of the cannoli with the creaminess of the ricotta maybe served with an excellent Passito di Pantelleria wine. But pay attention to the choice of ingredients that must all be of the highest quality and very fresh.
Many years ago Sicilian Cannoli were cooked for the carnival period, but after their great success, they are now enjoyed throughout the year. Nowaday they are known and appreciated all over the world and has become the symbol of traditional Sicilian pastry, along with cassata or almond cookies.
Like all regional recipes, even for Sicilian cannoli there are secrets and versions that change from city to city or from family to family: some choose to add cocoa and Marsala to the dough. Others instead use aromatize the dough even with coffee or cinnamon. The ricotta cream is made with sheep’s milk ricotta because it is less watery and sloppy and is almost always enriched with pieces of chocolate and the finished cannoli are often garnished with chopped pistachios, chocolate flakes or candied fruit … in short, there is only the embarrassment of the choice on how you decide to taste them. But the fundamental rule is one: cannoli must be filled at the last moment, that is just before serving them, to enjoy all their crunchiness!
Sicilian Cannoli Recipe
FOR THE SHELLS
- 200 g (7 oz) of “00” flour
- 20 g (0,7 oz) of softened lard or butter
- 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon of coffee powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of fine salt
- 1 egg of about 50 g (1,7 oz)
- 35 g (1,2 oz) of icing sugar
- 50 ml of Marsala wine
- plenty of peanut oil (for frying)
FOR THE FILLING
- 500 g (18 oz) sheep’s milk ricotta
- 180 g (6 oz) of white sugar
- 60 g (2 oz) of dark chocolate drops
- chopped pistachios, candied fruit and icing sugar for decoration
How to Make the Dough for Cannoli Shells
1) – Get ready with all the ingredients and start making Sicilian cannoli recipe by placing the flour in a large bowl.
2) – Add acing sugar, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, coffee powder and fine salt.
3) – Mix with a wooden spoon then add lard or butter (at room temperature), depending on what you have chosen as an ingredient.
4) – Add the egg and stir, mixing the ingredients.
5) – Finally add the Marsala wine then with your hands begin to knead the ingredients.
6) – When the dough is homogeneous and smooth (about 5 minutes working), make a loaf.
7) – Wrap it in a kitchen film, then let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
8) – Now take out the Sicilian cannoli dough from the fridge and roll it out with a rolling pin up to a thickness of about 3 mm, then, with a pastry ring (or a cup) of 10 or 12 cm (4 or 5 inch) in diameter, make some cannoli disks.
9) – Gently remove the disc from the work surface and wrap it around the cannoli tube (you can find them here)
10) – IMPORTANT TIP: wet the ends of the disk with a little cold water and press well to close it. This will prevent the cannoli from opening during cooking.
11) – Fry the cannoli for one or two minutes in plenty of peanut oil. As soon as the dough becomes golden, remove from the oil, drain on paper towels, and let cool. Finally remove the cannoli from the tubes.
Now that Sicilian cannoli shells are ready let’s make the filling.
How to Make the Filling for Cannoli
12) – Place the ricotta in a bowl and add the sugar then stir and mix the two ingredients. REMEMBER: the ricotta must be rather dry, it is for this reason that sheep’s ricotta is preferred. You can also use the cow one but you have to let it dry from its liquids for 2 days.
13) – Pass the ricotta through a sieve to make it creamier (recommended step for those who are perfectionists but not mandatory for the success of Sicilian cannoli)
14) – Now add the chocolate drops, mix well and store in the fridge till the moment to serve.
IMPORTANT: cannoli must be filled ONLY at the time of serving, this to prevent the shells from becoming too soft. If you want to have them already filled you will have to line the inside of the cannoli with a layer of chocolate.
15) – So now it’s the time to fill our traditional Sicilian cannoli. Let’s start with filling a pastry bag with the ricotta and chocolate cream
16) – Take the cannoli (which in the meantime you will have kept at room temperature) and fill them with cream with the help of the pastry bag, Then decorate them with chopped pistachios
17) – or/and candied fruit.
18) – Place the Sicilian cannoli in a serving dish, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve
We recommend filling the Sicilian cannoli when serving. The cream can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Cannoli shells can be stored at room temperature for 4-5 days, covered with a cloth.
In order not to have waste of dough, you can make Sicilian cannoli with dough squares.
If you are looking for an even more delicious version, you can line the inside of the cannoli with melted chocolate. Just let it solidify before stuffing them.
Sicilian Cannoli: Origins, History and Curiosities
There are many stories related to the origins of Sicilian cannoli, but the oldest traces its creation back to the period of Saracen domination in Sicily.
It is said that the women of the harem of the ancient “Qal-at-al-nisa” (Caltanissetta), during the long absences of their consort and to deceive the wait, dedicated themselves to the preparation of processed foods and desserts.
These would have modified an already existing Arab dessert, made up of ricotta, almonds and honey, reworking it with an ancient Roman dessert that Cicero describes it as consisting of a farinaceous tube filled with a very sweet milk-based food. Following the end of Arab rule in Sicily, the harems disappeared and it is not inconceivable that one of the favorites, converted to the Christian faith, withdrew to the monasteries bringing with them the recipes prepared in the courts of the emirs.
So, according to tradition, that of the Sicilian cannoli was one of the recipes handed down by Muslim women to Christian sisters, who began to produce it at first only during the carnival period.
Some believe in fact that its name derives from a carnival joke that consisted in letting the ricotta cream flow out of the “cannolo” (a dialectal term that indicates a sort of tap) instead of water.
Others say that the origin of the name cannoli dates back to the river canes around which the shells were rolled up during its preparation to acquire the characteristic cylindrical appearance.
What is certain is that Sicilian cannoli, from the city of Caltanissetta, has spread throughout Sicily by the pastry chefs of Palermo and Messina who have refined its preparation, using the best raw materials of its region: from ricotta sheep’s milk, lightly sweetened, as a filling, to Bronte pistachio, Modica chocolate and Ribera candied orange peel as decoration.