Author Topic: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?  (Read 2748 times)

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dawbs

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In a nearby town where I used to live there is an Italian Deli/bakery that makes divine cannoli.  I just picked up a dozen for new-year's day. 

I know my local grocery store shells cannoli shells, and I know the filling is basically ricotta cheese and sugar...
Does anyone have a recipe to share?  including the technique at filling them?


And my dumb question(s)...
is there a snowball's chance in e-hell mine will taste on-par w/ the ones the bakery makes, being as I"ll be using pre-made shells?

and being as I'm not exactly a whiz at such things, if I buy them for $2 apiece (or $1.75 apiece when I buy a dozen)...and the shells cost $.75 apiece when I buy them empty, is this probably going to end up moot as it'll be cheaper to drive 45 min. to the bakery to buy them?

ehellion

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2006, 03:30:10 PM »
I don't have any recipes to share, but I will say that some things are better bought from the bakery, lol. I love to make donuts, and they're really good, but for some reason I just prefer the bakery ones. Same thing with coffee cakes. But I think you should try to make them just once and see how it goes.

I once made great egg rolls. They were a pita and expensive to make, but they were soooo good! I did it, was proud of myself and now just buy them frozen. Just as good with less work and less expense, lol. Maybe try googling cannolis and see what you find.

kkl123

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2006, 05:15:02 PM »
Major ingredients of cannoli filling are ricotta cheese and powdered sugar and whatever flavorings you like... my neighbor used to use a little amaretto and lemon zest in hers most often, but occasionally chopped chocolate curls and orange zest.  The powdered sugar is "to taste" -- Mrs. L. used about 1/4 c powdered sugar to a pound of ricotta, about 2 Tbsp of amaretto, and the zest of half a lemon.  When she used chocolate, she used bittersweet chocolate and reduced the amount of sugar.   Filling was done with a pastry bag.

The hitch is whether or not you can get good ricotta -- the real stuff is goat and sheep's milk, and is very dry. If you use supermarket ricotta, you need to put it in a colander lined with a dishtowel overnight, and let the whey drain off.  I've been known to mix in a little full-fat yoghurt into the ricotta before draining, for a bit more tang... maybe 1/4 c yoghurt to a pound of ricotta.

The cannoli "straws" are not difficult to make and are really pretty cheap, but do require deep frying.  If you're interested, I can try to find the recipe a friend and I came up with for non-fried cannoli -- we basically took a fortune cookie recipe, added cocoa and cinnamon, and sagged the baked wafers over beer bottle tops to make a shallow dish.  After our "dishes" cooled, we spooned a blob of filling and dusted it with a little chopped pistachio or chocolate or cinnamon.  Same basic flavor, different shape, easier to produce en masse.

dawbs

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2006, 05:33:40 PM »
that's informative, thanks!

I'm guessing there is not a local place in my smalltown where I live to buy "good" cheese...I have to drive to the deli where I got the canolli to even manage capacola ham and asigo cheese...

So since I"m to lazy to let it drain and do all that work (besides, I'm fairly sure a colander of food left in a sink is fair game to the pets!), I'll probably stick w/ the deli.

Or maybe try it ONCE to see if I can do it   ;)

kkl123

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2006, 05:44:10 PM »
Stick the colander in a bowl, and put the bowl in the refrigerator.  I don't think you want to leave it overnight in a sink unless you keep your house refrigerated.  <g>  Supermarket ricotta will work fine, but may need a little "doctoring" in flavor beyond what "real" ricotta will do.

At least you can get capicola... I can get asiago pretty easily, but I just get blank looks when mentioning capicola out here.

You may also be able to get "pirouette" type cookies at the grocery store -- Pepperidge farm is the brand I've tried.  Not bad as emergency cannoli substitutes, though a bit skinny.  Again, the easy way out may be
a blob of filling with a cookie stuck in the middle...  ;-)

dawbs

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2006, 05:46:42 PM »
making JUST the filling and finding something to put it in DOES have appeal...
and I've been meaning to explore making it as a cake filling.

But that requires me taking the time to bake more, and that time has been elusive this year!

kkl123

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2006, 06:03:08 PM »
Do you know Italian cheesecake?  It bears certain resemblance to cannoli filling, and is minimally messy.If you've got a springform pan, it's pretty easy, and very good.  This is the easiest good recipe I've found: http://teriskitchen.com/visitors/ellencake.html

Pashka is another thing you might try if you like cannoli... it's a Russian Easter dish, a sweet molded cheese* --cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, almonds, currants, lemon juice and zest.  It's mixed together and then poured into a wooden mold where it's allowed to set in the refrigerator overnight.  It's then  eaten by itself or on slices of bread or poundcake sort of sweetbread -- kind of close to a brioche dough.   A good substitute for the wooden mold is a brand new unglazed clay flowerpot, lined with cheesecloth and set in a bowl.    (*fats (except for sunflower oil) are not allowed in the Russian Orthodox diet during Lent, so this is a blow-out tribute to cholesterol!)

I love to "reconstruct" traditional dishes using less time-intensive methods -- instead of cabbage rolls, for instance, I make a layered cabbage casserole -- think lasagna made with torn up cabbage instead of noodles, the cabbage roll mixture instead of meat or spinach, and the tomato sauce.  Eats just as well, looks pretty good, and takes about a quarter of the prep time.  Often, by doing dishes "inside out" or with substitutes like fortune cookie base instead of the deep fried cannoli shells, I can cut some of the fat or other "bad stuff" without doing grave violence to the spirit of the dish.

(gaah! I hate it when I make typos!)
« Last Edit: December 30, 2006, 07:10:32 PM by kkl123 »

dawbs

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Re: cannoli...are the difficult to make? should I just keep buying them?
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2006, 06:28:52 PM »
Do you know Italian cheesecake?  It bears certain resemblance to cannoli filling, and is minimally messy.If you've got a springform pan, it's pretty easy, and very good.  This is the easiest good recipe I've found:
http://teriskitchen.com/visitors/ellencake.html

that sounds divine!

I will have to try it in the near future, thanks!