It was my mom's birthday recently, so I made her birthday cannolis instead of a cake. She's always loved cannolis but they aren't something which can be readily found in Switzerland. When I was little, trips to NY in the summer had to include a cannoli from Little Italy for her, but those trips have been less and less frequent, so life has been cannoli-less. When I started making my own ricotta and mascarpone though, it was pointed out to me that I should try making cannolis. And then my sister dug out my parents' old cannoli moulds from 30 years ago and the case was settled. The week leading up to her birthday therefore, I made a few different variants of both shells and filling until I found one I was happy with. I trialled using home made vs store-bought ricotta and used home-made mascarpone. The curds in the home made ricotta were a little bigger and so required more beating , and in the end I used a combination of all three. My first tests of the filling came out too liquidy so I let the mascarpone drain for longer to stiffen up the final filling.
For the Shells:
3 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c butter, cold and diced
3 tbsp vinegar
1/4 c whey/milk
1 egg white, beaten
For the Filling:
2 c mascarpone
2 1/2 - 3 c ricotta
1 1/2 c sugar
2-3 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c pistachios, chopped
1/4 c chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 c dark chocolate, chopped and melted over a water bath
1) Mix together the dry ingredients for the shells and then cut in the butter. Mix together with finger tips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
2) Add in liquids one by one, mixing after each addition until a smooth, elastic dough is achieved. Place in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.
3) In the mean time, mix together all the ingredients for the filling except the pistachios and chocolate, whipping until smooth. Place in the fridge to chill.
4) Cut out an oval from paper or cardboard measuring about 15x11.5 cm (6x4.5inches). Roll out the dough to about 3 mm thick and then using your oval template, cut out ovals. Wrap the around moulds, brushing the edge with egg white to stick together, forming a tube. Alternatively, I rolled up my silicone baking mat to about 2 cm in diameter and wrapped 3 ovals around the length of it. Aluminium foil might work too, rolled up in this way.
5)Brush the rest of the tube with egg white and bake for 8-10 minutes in at 175°C in a pre-heated oven, or fry until golden brown at about 175°C. Remove from oven or oil and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the moulds.
6) Dip the ends of some of the cooled tubes in melted chocolate and allow to set.
7) Split about 1/3 (or more) of the filling from the rest and mix in chocolate chips. Pipe either plain or chocolatey filling into the tubes, sprinkling pistachios onto the ends of some. Chill until ready to eat.
Not having had them very frequently myself, things were a little complicated as I didn't have a very clear idea of what I was aiming for, but I am assured by those who know about these things that they came out quite well. I certainly enjoyed them, which hasn't always been the case with cannolis in the past. I have other filling combinations I'd like to try, like almonds, or lime/lemon pieces dehydrated just enough. The shells just needed to be a little thinner. I must also point out that I baked the shells rather than frying them as my mom isn't a bit fan of fried food, but I have an air fryer coming soon, so I want to try and put them in there to see how they do. Results to follow!
EDIT: The shell cookie also works well with yogurt - in this case vanilla rhubarb yogurt.