Sara’s Specialty: Cannoli

28 Dec

My sister-in-law Sara established herself early as the Big Boss when she met my brother, fresh out of college, almost 15 years ago.  Chicago-born and raised, she is also Italian and right away got in the kitchen and got her hands dirty.  She’s been perfecting her classic Christmas dessert for years– so dedicated she is to cannoli, my uncle Tom actually composed an original song for her one year, off-the-cuff… Cannoli Lady.  I think 2011 will be remembered as the year she outdid herself (with the addition of some mascarpone cheese to the filling and sprinkles to the outside).

She had some help from our little chef (and Little Boss) this year, too.

NOTE: we chose to make the ricotta filling for these instead of the pudding filling.  We also used store-bought shells, from our favorite Italian bakery, but if you’re feeling ambitious, the recipe to make them follows.  You’ll need a cannoli tube.

CANNOLI (Makes about 25)

SHELLS
2C all-purpose flour
1/4C sugar
1/8t salt
1/8t cinnamon
1 heaping T shortening
1 egg
3oz dry red wine
Vegetable oil for frying

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.  Cut in shortening as you would for pie crust.  Stir in egg and add the wine a little at a time to make a manageable dough.  Knead on floured pastry cloth for about five minutes until dough is smooth.  If sticky, add a little more flour.  Place in covered bowl and let rest for about 30 minutes.  Cut dough in thirds and roll out a portion at a time into a thin sheet.  Using a one-pound coffee can, cut circles out of dough.  Dab a little water on one edge of the circle (for sealing) and wrap loosely around a cannoli tube.  Place a few at a time into hot oil and fry until lightly browned.  Remove and place on absorbent paper.  Gently remove shell from tube.

RICOTTA FILLING
1lb ricotta cheese
1/4C powdered sugar
1T candied fruit, minced (we just used orange zest)
1/2C whipped cream
1t vanilla
Chocolate almond bar, chopped
Maraschino cherries, halved
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

In blender or with mixer, blend ricotta and sugar until smooth.  Fold in the remaining ingredients until well-blended.  Fill shells just before serving.  Sift powdered sugar over cannoli and decorate with a halved cherry on each end.

WHITE PUDDING FILLING
3C milk
6T sugar
6 heaping T cornstarch
1t vanilla
2 drops cinnamon oil
1T candied fruit, minced
1C whipped cream
Chocolate almond bar, chopped
Maraschino cherries, halved
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Place sugar and cornstarch in top of double-boiler.  Slowly add milk until cornstarch is dissolved.  Cook over boiling water until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon oil.  Fold in the candied fruit.  Cool completely.  Fold in whipped cream and chocolate bits.  Fill shells just before serving.  Sift powdered sugar over cannoli and decorate with a halved cherry on each end.

Sneaking a taste

Sara is The Cannoli Lady

These are a showstopper.  I know so many people who’ve never tried them, or say they don’t like them.  Just make these and you’ll have a room full of (fat and happy) cannoli converts.  Mangia!

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One Response to “Sara’s Specialty: Cannoli”

  1. cannoli lady January 2, 2012 at 5:42 PM #

    Gia liked the use of the Christmas sprinkles. It is a bonus that Christmas colors are also Italian colors.

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