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:
170g plain flour
A pinch of caster sugar
A pinch of salt
20g unsalted butter
100ml sweet masala
Egg white to seal
Vegetable oil for frying
500g ricotta cheese
150g icing sugar
a splash of vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon, and half of it’s juice
50g candied lemon peel
50g 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 190c 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.