yield: Makes about 12 cannoli
There are several secrets to perfect, crisp cannoli:
1). You need the right proportion of filling to shell. In America, cannoli are often too large, with too much filling. These are tiny and delicate, perfect for eating in just a couple of bites.
2). Use high-quality ingredients. Sheep's-milk ricotta is the most traditional, but good fresh cow's-milk ricotta will work fine as well. Be sure to drain it for an hour to avoid watering down the filling. Good-quality candied orange peel is important as well. If you can't find any that's fresh and plump, substitute freshly grated orange zest.
3). Most importantly, don't fill the shells until you're ready to serve them. Both the filling and the shells can be made one day ahead, but to avoid soggy shells, don't pipe the filling into them until the last minute.
If you don't have a pastry bag, a one-gallon freezer bag with the end snipped off can be used to pipe the filling.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 8 tablespoons limoncillo or other lemon or orange liqueur
- 1 pound (2 cups) fresh sheep's- or cow's-milk ricotta, drained 1 hour in cheesecloth-lined sieve
- 3/4 cup superfine sugar
- 1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips
- 4 tablespoons candied orange peel, chopped, or finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To fry and serve
- About 8 cups vegetable oil
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)
- Special equipment: deep-fat thermometer, 4-inch diameter round cookie cutter, 6 (roughly 5 5/8-by-5/8-inch) metal cannoli tubes
In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. Using fingertips or pastry blender, blend in butter just until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, pulse in food processor.) Drizzle limoncillo over mixture and gently stir with fork until incorporated.
Turn out dough onto sheet of plastic wrap. (Dough will still look somewhat dry and crumbly.) Gather together into ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 45 minutes to 1 hour.
In medium mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, sugar, chocolate chips, orange peel, and vanilla. Spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch round tip and refrigerate until ready to use. (Filling can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered.)
Form, fry, and fill shells
Cut dough into 4 even pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece to 1/8-inch thick. Using floured cookie cutter, cut out 2 to 3 rounds from dough. Transfer rounds to baking sheet and keep covered with plastic wrap. Roll out remaining dough and cut rounds in same manner, then gather scraps, roll out, and cut again.
Fill heavy 4-quart pot with oil to depth of 3 inches. Heat over moderate heat until thermometer registers 375°F.
Meanwhile, brush bottom edge of 1 dough round with egg white. Wrap dough around 1 cannoli tube with egg white–brushed end overlapping other end and gently press edges together to seal. Make 5 more shells in same manner. (Keep remaining rounds covered with plastic.)
Working in 2 batches, fry formed shells in hot oil until deep golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towel–lined plate to drain and cool 5 minutes. Stand tubes upright and tap gently against countertop to loosen shells. Twist molds to remove shells.
Wrap remaining dough around tubes and fry in same manner. (Shells may be made 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature, unfilled and uncovered.)
When ready to serve, pipe filling into 1 end of cannoli shell, filling shell halfway, then pipe into other end. Repeat to fill remaining shells. Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve immediately.