Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Best Kept Secret

I absolutely love Cannolis. It's a wonderful anytime dessert that's easy to make and enjoyable to eat. If you've ever wanted to be the Belle of the ball, just make this recipe and you will be.

The shells are a little more difficult to make so I'm not even going to include the recipe, however, if you do want the recipe, just leave me a note by clicking on the pencil located at the bottom of this post and I'll email it to you.

The easiest thing to do is buy the shells pre-made. You can find them in various supermarkets: Shop-rite, Whole Foods, AJ's, if you're from Arizona, or order them from Amazon. The shells are packaged in a plastic container with a bed for each shell so they won't crumble before you get them home. Of course, if you drop them, all bets are off.

 Here's the recipe I promised with the best kept secret revealed,


3 cups Ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup finely chopped candied citrus
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I use the mini)

Pistachio nuts, finely chopped (Optional)
Chocolate sprinkles (Optional)

Here's the secret: drain the ricotta in cheesecloth for three days prior to making the cannolis.  I have no idea why no one ever tells you, or if they do, they say if the ricotta is watery, drain. If you remove the lid from the container, it never looks watery and that's where the problem arises. I promise you that if you do this the way I'm telling you, you'll be amazed at how well your pastry will come out. If you take a shortcut and don't drain the water out of the ricotta, your filling will be so runny, it won't stay in the cannoli shell and run out like a faucet. Here's how to do it.

Cut four pieces of cheesecloth into 12" long strips. Place the two pieces on top of one another so you have two double strips. Now, place the first strip down onto the counter and the second piece so it looks like a cross.  Empty the contents of the ricotta into the center of the cheesecloth, bring all four corners up to the center and tie them together.

Using a knitting needle, or a wooden spoon, slip the end through the tie and let the sack hang over a deep bowl so the sack is not touching the bottom. Allow the whey to drain from the cheese for three days in the refrigerator. 

When it comes time to make the filling, remove from the refrigerator, add the ricotta into a mixer bowl with the vanilla and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. This will take about 10 minutes, so don't lose patience. I promise you, it will be worth it.

Stir in the candied fruit and chocolate piece, mixing by hand. Return filling to refrigerator to chill. Make sure these are finely chopped because they will clog your pastry tip if you don't.

Line up your shells on a tray. Using a pastry bag, fit a #10 round tip on the end of the bag to pipe the filling into each end of the mini-shells, or the extra large round tip for the larger shells. 

If you're using the pistachio nuts or the sprinkles, dip each end of the filled cannoli into the dish to coat, place on a serving dish and return to the refrigerator. Just before serving, dust the tops of the shells with confectioners sugar.

A word of caution. FILL THE SHELLS AN HOUR BEFORE serving. Even though you've drained the ricotta, some moisture remains and will do what we chefs call 'weep'. If that happens, your shells will be soggy.

Take photos of your cannolis and I'll post the pictures on this blog.

Bon Appetit!