Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts, tube-shaped shells of deep fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta. Cannolo (singular form) means ‘little tube’ with the etymology stemming from Arabic. What?
Cannoli have been traced to the Arabs during the Emirate of Sicily (Islamic state on the island of Sicily), with a possible origin for the word and recipe deriving directly from Qanawat (a village in Syria). 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 (Islamic Iberia/Spain) to Iraq and including Sicily. In Italy, they are commonly known as ‘cannoli Siciliani’.
I have never had a delicious cannoli, even when I purchased them from high-end bakeries. The texture or the flavor of the pastries was not pleasant and it seemed they were fried in stale oil.
I didn’t think much of the fillings either. I saw a recipe in Diabetic Living magazine which inspired me to this recipe. It interested me because no dough, no deep frying! But I must say, baking a thin shell is challenging, and my first batch was a total disaster. Since the ingredients are so simple and always available in my refrigerator and pantry, I will continue practicing to achieve making every shell perfectly.
The hazelnut shells on their own are absolutely delizioso! To make the filling true Sicilian, kept the filling made of ricotta, and further kept it simple by just sweetening it with honey and included a notch of pistachio decadence.
Hazelnut Cannoli filled with Ricotta, Honey and Pistachios
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 2 large egg whites
• 67 g/ 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 24 g/ 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
• 35 g/ 3 ~ 4 Tbsp ground dry-roasted, unsalted, skinned hazelnuts
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
• ½ tsp pure vanilla essence
For the filling
• 372 g/ 1½ cup ricotta cheese
• 3 Tbsp honey
• 35 g/ 3 ~ 4 Tbsp ground, unsalted pistachios, divided
◊ Place rack on middle oven shelf and preheat to 190°C/375°F.
◊ Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
◊ With a mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add sugar and beat for another minute.
◊ Sprinkle flour, hazel nuts, salt, and fold gently and briefly with silicone spatula. Add vanilla, oil, and fold gently until all ingredients have incorporated.
◊ With a non-stick spray, very lightly spray 6 evenly separated spots on the parchment paper. With tip of a finger, smudge it circularly out a 10 cm/4″ diameter.
◊ Add 1 full Tbsp of batter to the center of each circle. With the back of a spoon, starting from the center, in a circular motion, spread the batter thinly within the 10/cm/4″ circle. Try to make it thicker at the edge than the center.
◊ Bake for 5 ~ 6 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (don’t over bake as it will be too crispy and impossible to roll).
◊ Immediately loosen cannoli with a sharp spatula from the parchment paper. Turn over and wrap around dowel rod ( I used 15mm dia.), stainless steel cannoli forms or horn molds. Cool slightly on the mold to take the shape, and while still warm, remove from molds and cool on a cooling rack. As soon as the baking sheet has cooled down, bake the 2nd batch of 6. (It is best to bake in batches, otherwise, while you are rolling the first 6, the others will dry and be impossible to form.) If baked crispy in perfection, shells will hold their desired crispiness form for about a day (unfilled of course), and after that, still delicious, but will start softening.
◊ To make the filling: In a medium sized bowl, combine ricotta and honey. Add half of ground pistachios and combine. Put filling in a piping bag, close tightly and let chill well in the refrigerator until ready to use.
◊ To serve, cut the tip off the piping bag (large enough for the pistachio pieces to go through), pipe filling into cannoli shells. Sprinkle ends with other half of ground pistachios and serve immediately.
~ Buon Appetito! ~
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?