From the moment I discovered cannoli, I have been determined to make them. Deep-fried pastry tubes, filled with sweetened ricotta, and punctuated with candied fruits, chocolate, and nuts – they truly are delicious.
Chatting with a Sicilian friend, I discovered that there may in fact be no ‘true’ recipe, as every Sicilian grandmother will have her own version. That being said, there do seem to be a couple of aspects that are non-negotiable; the filling must be ricotta, and the pastry must be made with sweet marsala wine. I have always been dubious about the legitimacy of chocolate chips in cannoli, having assumed them to be an American invention, but according to a couple of my Italian friends, the jury is still out on that one.
Here’s my version of an authentic Sicilian cannoli:
- 170 g plain flour
- pinch sugar (caster)
- pinch salt
- 20 g unsalted butter
- 100 ml Marsala (sweet)
- egg white ( to seal)
- vegetable oil ( for frying)
- 500 g ricotta cheese
- 150 g icing sugar
- splash vanilla extract
- zest of one lemon (and half of its juice)
- 50 g candied lemon peel
- 50 g pistachios (finely chopped)
- Place the ricotta in a fine mesh sieve and leave to drain for at least an hour.
- Rub together the flour, sugar, salt, and unsalted butter.
- Slowly add Marsala until a stiff dough forms, and knead briefly.
- Wrap the dough in cling film, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough through a pasta roller, to a medium thickness.
- Cut out 10cm circles of the dough and wrap them around cannoli moulds, securing with a little egg white.
- Fry at 190°C until golden brown.
- Leave the tubes to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully slide off the shells.
- Whisk the drained ricotta, then add the icing sugar and whisk until combined.
- Add the vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and candied peel.
- If the filling is loose, add a little more icing sugar to thicken it.
- Pipe the ricotta filling into the shells, then dip each end of the cannoli into the chopped pistachios.