As promised, here it is. Homemade Cannolis. Real, completely from scratch, everything homemade cannolis. Let me be honest and say that it didn’t start out this way. My cousin was celebrating her graduation and she wanted to treat herself to some cannolis. I, of course, told her that I would make her some. By “make,” I obviously meant, buy some premade cannoli shells, get some ricotta from the store, whip some sugar in it, fill the premade shells, and ta da: “homemade” cannolis.
But karma, I tell you. It really comes back to bite you in the butt. I said homemade, and karma made sure that homemade would happen. Turns out that no one sells fresh ricotta these days. (I’m not sure if any of these stores ever sold fresh ricotta, but that’s neither here nor there). And on top of that, our Italian bakery was out of cannoli shells! Has that ever happened?!
But no fear. I turned to the Italian dessert cookbook that my cousin gave me (I think she was giving me a hint long ago to make cannolis), consulted other cannoli recipes, bought all of the supplies I needed and got to work.
Let me start by saying that this was maybe one of the most delectable things to have every come out of my kitchen. But, this is also time consuming. And you need special equipment to make them. But goodness, was I ever proud! I mean, they’re so so delicious, which is why it was so gratifying. And against the odds! I overcame many obstacles to make these! Pushing it? Maybe. But it’s all so tasty and worth it. Good call, karma.
If you don’t feel like going out to buying your own cannoli equipment, you should buy the cannoli shells (after hoping that your local Italian bakery is not out), but don’t cheat yourself out of this filling. It’s that good. But if you do decide to go the completely homemade route, this is what cannoli forms look like.
Homemade Ricotta (recipe from 101 Cookbooks)
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 quart whole milk buttermilk
Coat the bottom of a large heavy-bottom pot with cold water. Combine both milks in the pot. Place over medium high heat. Stir to make sure that it doesn’t set on the bottom. While the milks are heating, place a very thin piece of cloth, or several layers of cheese cloth, on a large colander. Place the colander over a pot. As the milk heats, the curds will begin to separate. Continue to stir and heat until the separated water is almost clear. Take off heat and pour through the cloth, catching all of the curds. Let it drain for several minutes until most of the water has come out. Take both ends of the cloth and tie it on a faucet to let the remaining water drip out. Take out of the cloth and place into a tight-fitted container. Place into refrigerator until ready to use.
Ricotta Filling (adapted from Gale Gand)
2 cups fresh ricotta
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Whip everything except chocolate chips in a food processor until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Cannoli Shells (adapted from The Italian Dish)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend the dough in an electric mixer with dough hook attachment for about 10 minutes on medium low speed. Take out and knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it chill for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Take cannoli forms and grease with oil or cooking spray.
Take dough out and roll, using flour as needed, until it is at thin as possible: 1/8 inch thick or thinner. Cut out round shapes, using a biscuit cutter or a glass. Carefully wrap the shapes around the prepared cones until the ends meet. Press the ends down.
Place the forms on the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the form starts pulling away from the dough and it is lightly browned. Using oven mitts, pick up the forms and gently slide the cannoli shell off. Set on a baking rack to cool completely.
To Assemble: Pipe prepared cannoli cream into the prepared shell. Dip both ends into mini chocolate chips.