This is the recipe of cannoli (well, my family’s recipe!). It’s a traditional dish from Sicily and it requires very specific ingredients that are sometimes hard to find abroad… there are many Sicilian migrants here, so l am lucky enough to find almost anything. If you can’t find ricotta cheese, you can try and substitute it with cream cheese or whipped cream or a mixture of both. To make the shells, you need a mould that l have brought from Sicily… but it’s a very simple object and you should be able to find/make something like it. They are simple cylinders (about 10 cm long) made of heat resistant aluminum and empty inside.
SICILIAN CANNOLI - CANNOLI SICILIANI
- 250 gms of plain flour
- 25 gms of lard
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- ½ glass wine of red wine vinegar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 egg white
- Lard or vegetable oil for deep frying
- 1 kg of ricotta cheese preferably sheep milk ricotta, but cow's milk ricotta is ok too
- 600 gms of sugar
- 100 gms of dark chocolate
- Candied pumpkin and/or candied orange peels optional
For the shells, knead the flour, lard, sugar, vinegar, egg white and salt together until obtaining a smooth dough. Divide it in six and start working on one of the pieces. Flatten it with a rolling pin and then pass it in the pasta machine. Start from the largest pin and pass the dough through several times, progressively thinning the dough, till the 3rd thinner most pin (#6). You can also roll the dough by hand... just make it very thin: approx. 2 mm thick.
Then get a coffee plate, place it on top of the rolled dough and cut around it. Make approximately 25 circles. Roll them loosely around the mould and stick the ends with some egg white or water. Deep fry them in hot vegetable oil or lard carefully removing the mould half through the frying process. When ready, place them in a plate lined with kitchen paper and dry off the oil. Let them cool down. These shells can be kept up to 4 weeks in an air tight container.
For the ricotta filling, sieve the ricotta very finely and keep in the fridge overnight. The following day, add the sugar to the ricotta, mix well and sieve it again. Then add the chocolate in thick pieces. If you want, you can also add candied pumpkin and candied orange peels to the cream.
To prevent the cannoli from getting soggy and soft, fill the shells with a generous amount of ricotta cream just before serving them and sprinkle them with icing sugar.