Sunday, November 29, 2015

HOLY CANNOLI SUNDAY!



Cannoli's are one of those rare special treats everyone enjoys, and even if you've just stuffed your face, there's always room for an Italian cannoli.
 
One of the things I've learned about making them through my research is that no recipe ever tells you to drain the ricotta. It's as if you're supposed to know. So before you embark on trying this recipe, purchase your ricotta cheese two days before, as well as a package of cheese cloth. Follow these simple steps and you'll be baking like a professional. This recipe makes 16-18 cannoli, but don't fill them all at once. Just fill the amount you'll be eating--usually one per person.
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1 ½ pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
Cut a piece of cheesecloth approximately 17" long. Using a tray, unfold the cloth all the way and lay it down on the tray so you can scoop the contents of the ricotta right into the middle. Now bring the four sides up, making sure the cheese is completely covered and tie as tightly as you can. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or knitting needle, slide it under the knot or bow, and hang the sack over a deep enough bowl so sack isn't touching bottom. Do this 2 days prior to making the filling.

This photo is after the first day. It has already drained a half inch of liquid. Today, when we were ready to use the ricotta, there was at least an inch of milk on the bottom of the container.
 
 
CAUTION: If you bypass this step, your cannoli filling will be watery, run out the sides of your shells, be a major mess to eat, and not a pretty sight.



Once drained, empty the contents of the cheesecloth into a mixer bowl, add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and beat on a medium high setting for about 10 minutes.

Drained ricotta
1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, add the following and mix by hand:

½ cup candied fruit, finely chopped
¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels


While the filling is chilling,(hey, that rhymes) you can prepare the dough for the shells OR you can buy the premade shells, which are just as good. Nevertheless, I'll give you the recipe just in case you're feeling ambitious, but I highly recommend buying the shells.

Here are a few more pictures from our fun day.
 
 I'm demonstrating piping in the filling into the shells with a pastry bag that I've only used a coupler. A coupler is what is used to hold the decorating tip in place, but if you're just filling shells, such as I am above, you don't use a pastry tip.
 
 

Here's Julie dusting her filled cannoli with confectioners
 
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CANNOLI SHELLS (you'll need 6 6" aluminum tubes that are 3/4' in diameter--can be purchased at specialty shops.)

Combine the following ingredients and sift into a mixer bowl:

3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt

Add 2 tbls Crisco into the mixture and using the paddle on medium high, mix until the pieces are the size of small peas.

Beat 2 eggs and pour into the mixture, paddle until well blended

Now add:
2 tbls white vinegar
2 tbls cold water

Paddle to combine. The dough will form into a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl,  then turn  dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, if necessary. Wrap in saran wrap and chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Fill a deep saucepan with oil and let it heat until it reaches 360 degrees.

Roll the dough out and cut oval pieces that measure 6x4.5". Wrap the oval loosely around the cannoli tube and seal with beaten slightly egg whites. Deep fry for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Move onto paper towels to drain. Once cooled, they're be ready to fill.

Remove the mixture from the fridge, fill a pastry bag half way with the ricotta mixture and pipe into each end of the shells. You can dip each end of the cannoli with chopped nuts, colorful sprinkles, or nothing at all. Dust the cannoli tops with confectioner's sugar and serve. Makes 16-18 cannoli