Homemade Cannoli

Homemade Cannoli

You will need cannoli tubes—small metallic tubes for rolling the dough around (something like these)—to make this recipI was inspired to try making these after tasting the crisp, ricotta-filled cannoli, dipped on both sides in chopped pistachios, at Caffe dell'Arte in the beautiful baroque town of Modica. I adapted a recipe I found in a Sicilan cookbook by Eleonora Consoli called La Cucina del Sole. It's one of these books that has no pictures and assumes you already know your way around a Sicilian kitchen.

Making them at home, I realized, is doable and not too tricky—if you follow some important tips:
-- Investing in a candy thermometer is handy for good frying results, but if you don't have one, throw a cube of bread into the hot oil to test if it's ready. It should brown in about 15 seconds.
--Roll out small portions of dough at a time—so thin that it's nearly transparent—and keep the rest of the dough chilled in the meantime.
-- A touch of beaten egg white will help hold the pastry ends together while frying. It's not traditional and expert Sicilian nonnas manage to make these without, but if you find the cannoli are opening during frying, then this will greatly help you.
-- You can make both the dough and the filling ahead of time.
-- Always fill the cannoli just before you want to serve them.

Variations: Some like to add a teaspoon of bittersweet cocoa powder in the dough for color. In terms of decorating, you can use whatever you like here, from chopped dark chocolate to pistachios to candied fruit (cherries and orange in particular). You can even mix candied orange or chocolate chips into the ricotta. Or, instead of ricotta, you can use pastry cream or chocolate pastry cream
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Makes about 20 cannoli

For the pastry:

  • 2 1/3 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (50 grams) melted butter (or, more traditional, lard)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (70 milliliters) water (or white wine or marsala), or as needed
  • 3 cups (roughly) vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 egg white (optional)

For the filling cannoli:

  • 2 pounds (1 kilogram) fresh ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon (240 grams) sugar
  • splash of milk, if needed
  • chopped pistachios, dark chocolate, or candied fruit, for decoration (optional)
  • confectioners' sugar, for decoration (optional)
  1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, melted butter or lard, vinegar, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the water (or wine) bit by bit until you have a smooth, compact dough—you may not need any liquid it all. You may need to work this (kneading) quite a bit until it is soft and smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the filling: Combine the ricotta with sugar and whip until you have a creamy consistency. If you need to loosen it, add a splash of milk. Chill until needed.
  3. Cut off small, mandarin-sized portions of dough to work with at a time. Keep the rest wrapped and chilling in fridge. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a long rectangular shape until very thin, about 1-millimeter thickness (you should be able to nearly see through it!). Trim the edges and cut the piece of dough into 4- by 4-inch (10- by 10-centimeter) squares.
  4. Place a cannoli tube on the corner of a square. Roll the tube to wrap the pastry around it and seal the opposite corner of the pastry by pressing gently (you can also dab a bit of egg white on the corners to seal more effectively).
  5. In a small saucepan that will fit 2 to 3 cannoli tubes easily, heat enough vegetable oil so that the pastries will be covered. Over medium-low heat, heat the oil (if you have a candy thermometer, you want to reach about 330° F/165° C; see note above if not). When ready, cook 2 to 3 cannoli at a time, keeping a careful eye on them as they can brown too quickly or unroll themselves if they haven't been sealed well. When they are a deep brown color and the surface is bubbly and crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and carefully place on kitchen paper to drain. Do not remove the tubes until they are completely cool.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the dough. If they are coloring too quickly, the oil is too hot, so turn it down a notch and wait a few minutes before proceeding.
  7. To assemble cannoli, just before serving, pipe the ricotta (or carefully spoon it with a teaspoon) into each cooled cannolo tube to fill. Then decorate as desired: Dust with powdered sugar, dip the ends into chopped chocolate or pistachios, or simply pop a candied cherry on one end. Or mix them up!

History cannoli

Cannoli have been traced to the Arabs during the Emirate of Sicily, with a possible origin for the word and recipe deriving directly from qanawāt. These were deep fried dough tubes filled with various sweets, which were a popular pastry across the Islamic world at the time, from Al-Andalus to Iraq.

Cannoli come from the Palermo and Messina areas and were historically prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol; one legend assigns their origin to the harem of Caltanissetta. The dessert eventually became a year-round staple throughout Italy.

Second method cooking Cannoli

Homemade Cannoli
    Shells Homemade Cannoli:
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    3 tablespoons shortening
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
    1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

    2 tablespoons water
    1 egg white
    1 quart oil for frying, or as needed
    Filling for cannoli:
    1 (32 ounce) container ricotta cheese
    1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    1 teaspoon lemon zest, or to taste
    4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (optional)
 
  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the shortening until it is in pieces no larger than peas. Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, egg yolk, Marsala wine, vinegar and water. Mix with a fork until the dough becomes stiff, then finish it by hand, kneading on a clean surface. Add a bit more water if needed to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

    Divide the cannoli dough into thirds, and flatten each one just enough to get through the pasta machine. Roll the dough through successively thinner settings until you have reached the thinnest setting. Dust lightly with flour if necessary. Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a form or large glass or bowl, cut out 4 to 5 inch circles. Dust the circles with a light coating of flour. This will help you later in removing the shells from the tubes. Roll dough around cannoli tubes, sealing the edge with a bit of egg white.

    Heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) in a deep-fryer or deep heavy skillet. Fry shells on the tubes a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Use tongs to turn as needed. Carefully remove using the tongs, and place on a cooling rack set over paper towels. Cool just long enough that you can handle the tubes, then carefully twist the tube to remove the shell. Using a tea towel may help you get a better grip. Wash or wipe off the tubes, and use them for more shells. Cooled shells can be placed in an airtight container and kept for up to 2 months. You should only fill them immediately or up to 1 hours before serving.

    To make the filling, stir together the ricotta cheese and confectioners' sugar using a spoon. Fold in lemon zest and chocolate. Use a pastry bag to pipe into shells, filling from the center to one end, then doing the same from the other side. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar and grated chocolate for garnish when serving.
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