The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
The Daring Baker forum was all flustered when this month's challenge was announced. First off, let me tell you, Lisa has a good sense of humour, the title for the thread telling us about the challenge was headed "Daring Bakers November 2009 Challenge - Sorry all, we're not baking this month..."
Not to worry, there was still something waiting for us to get stuck into. Cannoli!
I've only known cannoli from watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" when dear, sweet (not) Marie dotes on her family with these homemade treats. To be honest, I still didn't know anything about them. I could see that they were some kind of pastry tube with something white inside, maybe flavoured whipped cream. It's not until I made my own this month that I began to understand what all the fuss is about.
Cannoli shells are blistered and crisp then traditionally filled with a ricotta mixture. Lisa gave us the choice to use any filling we liked and to make the shells in any form or shape we like. I'm going to be honest. My cannoli shells were not right, in fact, I'd go as far as to call them a failure. A tasty failure at least :) My shells weren't great but I can tell you that I made up for it with a delicious filling!
Thinking about what could have gone wrong with the shells, I've put it down to either one or both of these things. I think that I didn't roll the dough out thin enough, or at least not thin enough to account for the dough springing back a little. The other thing I had trouble with was keeping the frying oil at the right temperature. It was either too hot and burning shells, or not hot enough resulting in shells without those signature blisters all over them.
I ended up with shells that were either a little too dark and with a few large blisters, or the right colour and mostly smooth. They were also not crisp and crunchy, in fact, looking at the inside of the shells, it looked as though they hadn't been fried all the way through. Meh!
At least I made a tasty filling! As soon I found out we were making cannoli, a thought popped into my head. Why not combine this classic with another well loved Italian dessert, Tiramisu.
As I've mentioned, the traditional filling for cannoli is ricotta which has candied fruit, nuts and chocolate mixed into it. So why not, instead of ricotta, marscapone? Granted, the Tiramisu mixture may be a little bit more plain, but I promise you, it was fantastic in the cannoli.
I simply mixed up the marscapone mixture, filled the cannoli, then dusted them with powdered sugar and cocoa. I did try adding coffee to the cannoli dough to add more of the Tiramisu flavour combo but I didn't add enough and couldn't taste it. Now I know for next time!
All in all, a fail in one area but a success in another. I'm definitely going to try these again 'cause now I just have to get them right!
Thanks Lisa, this was definitely a challenge :)
Cannoli Shells (22-24 4" Shells)
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp (28 grams/1 ounce) Sugar
1 tsp (5 grams/0.06 ounces) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) Salt
3 Tbsp (42 grams/1.5 ounces) Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 tsp (5 grams/0.18 ounces) White Wine Vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt.
- Tip: If wanting to add a coffee flavour to the shell, substitute the cocoa for strong instant coffee powder.
- Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
- Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work.
- Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that).
- Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles
- Tip: 3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice
- Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
- Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes
- Tip: You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol
- Roll a dough oval from the long side around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap.
- Tip: Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.
- Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
- Tip: Don't wrap the dough too tightly around the forms otherwise you won't be able to slide them off
- In a heavy pot, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions.
- Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
- Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
- Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil.
- Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan.
- Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain.
- Repeat with the remaining tubes.
- While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel.
- Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
- Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough.
- If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
Tiramisu Filling (22-24 4" Shells)
4 Eggs, seperated
6 Tbsp Caster Sugar
500ml Cream, whipped
Cocoa powder for dusting
- Beat egg yolks and sugar together until think and pale, about 3 mins
- Add marscapone and beat until combined
- Using a spatula, fold in the whipped cream
- In another bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form
- Gently fold egg whites into the marscarpone mixture
- Refrigerate until ready to fill the shells
Assembling the Cannoli
- When ready to serve, fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the marscarpone mixture. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner.
- Tip: These need to be filled as close to serving as possible so that the shells don't become soft and soggy
- Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled.
- Turn the shell and fill the other side.
- Tip: You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
- Dust with confectioners sugar and cocoa
Thanks again Lisa, although not a 100% success for me, I really enjoyed this challenge and I will get them right! :)
To see the original challenge recipe as well as the traditional cannoli filling and a yummy pumpkin filling, visit the Daring Baker kitchen
If you don't want to buy forms, you can make them from various things
- Use tinfoil or thick foil roasting trays to make forms
- Cut up a broom stick or dowel (I used a new broom stick)
- Use dried canneloni pasta tubes wrapped in parchment paper
Tiramisu filling adapted from
"Cooking Italian" by Australian Women's Weekly