Sicilian Cannoli

Reprinted with permission from Italian Holiday Cooking by Michele Scicolone



2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

12 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Abut ½ cup dry white wine

1 large egg white, beaten

Lard, olive oil, or vegetable oil for frying



One 32-ounce container whole or part-milk skimmed ricotta, drained

¼ cup soft, fresh goat cheese, optional

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup chopped semisweet chocolate

2 Tablespoons chopped candied citron or orange rind, optional



¼ cup finely chopped unsalted pistachios

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting


Cooking directions:

1.       To make the shells, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor or electric mixer bowl.  Blend in the oil.  Add enough of the wine to make a soft dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour board and knead it until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes.  Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an inverted bowl, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.


2.       Lightly oil the cannoli tubes. Cut the dough into four pieces.  Starting at the middle setting, run one piece of the dough through the rollers of pasta machine.  Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking.  Continue to pass the dough through the machine, skipping every other setting, until you reach the narrowest or next-to-narrowest setting, depending on the machine.  The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through but still hold its shape.  (You can also roll out the dough on a floured board with a rolling pin,  but be sure to roll it very thin.)


3.       Cut the strip of dough into lengths about 1 inch shorter than your cannoli tubes.  Holding each piece of dough like a diamond shape, place a tube lengthwise on it, from point to point.  Fold the two opposite sides of the dough around the tube, being careful not to stretch or pull the dough tightly which would make it more difficult to remove the pastry from the tube after frying.  Dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap—avoid getting egg white on the tube, or it will stick—and press to seal.  Set aside.


4.       Roll and cut out the dough. You can re-roll the scraps if they are still soft.  If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all the dough, lay the pieces on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to sue them.


5.       Add enough lard or oil to a deep, heavy saucepan or deep-fryer to reach a depth of 2 inches and heat to 370⁰F on a deep-frying thermometer.  Line a baking pan with paper towel.  Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil; do not crowd the pan.  Fry the cannoli until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so they brown evenly.  With tongs, remove the cannoli tubes, holding each one straight up so that the oil flows back int the pan, and drain on the prepared baking pan.  While they are still hot, carefully slide the cannoli shell from the tubes: Grasp each tube with a pot holder and pull the cannoli shell off the tube with a pair of tongs, or with your hands protected by an over mitt or towel.  Cool the shells completely on the paper towels.


6.       Repeat with the remaining dough.  If you are reusing them, let the cannoli tubes cool before wrapping them in the dough.  (The shells can be made up to 2 days before serving; store in a sealed container in cool, dry place.)


7.       To make the filling, using a rubber spatula, push the ricotta through a fine sieve. Or put it in a food processor and blend it until creamy.  Transfer to a bowl if necessary.  Add the goat cheese, if using, sugar to taste, vanilla, and cinnamon and stir until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate and candied fruit, if using.  (The filling can be made up to 24 hours before serving; cover and refrigerate.)


8.       To assemble, fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch plain tip or a heavy-duty plastic storage bag with the ricotta cream.  If using a plastic bag, cut about ½ inch off one corner.  One at a time, insert the tip in the cannoli shells and gently squeeze the bag, filling them from both ends.  Smooth the cream with a small spatula.  Sprinkle the cream with the chopped pistachios and dust the shells with confectioner’s sugar.  Serve within one hour.


Makes 12 to 16

Wine suggestion:   A small glass of Marsala!