Cannoli are made of tube-shaped fried pastry dough stuffed with a cream made of sweetened sheep ricotta. Then candied fruit or chocolate chips are added and the pastries are finished with a dusting of icing sugar. Delicious!
Cannoli take their name from canne, the river canes that were used to shape the dough in a tube. According to legend, the tubular shape is a sign of fertility, of a generating force and pushing away evil influences. According to a legend, cannoli were first made in “Kalt el Nissa” (in arabic, “Castle of the women”), the modern city of Caltanissetta that hosted the harems of the Saracen emirs under Arab rule in Sicily. It is said that the emir’s concubines would bake pastries as a diversion. Cannoli were among these delicacies. According to another story, cannoli were made for the first time in a convent near Caltanissetta. To celebrate Carnival, the nuns “invented” a tubular pastry filled with ricotta cream, chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts.
for the shell:
- 500 g (18 oz) flour
- 50 g (2 oz) lard
- 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
- 200 ml (8 tbsps) vinegar or wine
- A pinch of salt
- Sunflower oil for frying
For the cream cheese:
- 500 g (18 oz) ricotta
- 230 g ( 1 ¼ cups) sugar
- 50 g (2 oz) dark chocolate chips
To garnish: candied cherries and oranges, or ground pistachios, confectioner’s sugar, ground cinnamon
Begin with the shells. Mix all the ingredients to obtain a smooth dough and roll into a thin sheet. Use a pastry cutter to obtain rounds and roll them even thinner with the rolling pin. Wrap around the special metal tubes and fry in plenty of oil for about 6 minutes, or until brown. Drain excess oil, remove the tubes and leave the shells to cool.
For the cream: mix the ricotta and sugar, then sieve the cream and add the chocolate chips. When ready to serve, fill the cannoli with the ricotta cream using a sac à poche, decorate both ends with chopped pistachios, or half a cherry or some candied orange zest. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.