Picture this: In the heart of Sicily, where cobblestone streets echo with timeless melodies and the aroma of freshly baked goods wafts through the air, there’s a story every nonna passes down through generations. It’s not just about a recipe – it’s a tale of tradition, love, and a bit of that Italian magic.
Sitting there, looking at her big-eyed, she’d say, “Every ingredient has a soul, and when they come together, they dance the most beautiful tarantella.” Today, I’m not just sharing a recipe with you – I’m inviting you into a slice of Sicilian history with homemade cannoli.
Let me present you with the best cannoli you’ll ever taste with this authentic cannoli recipe.
How to Make Authentic Italian Cannoli from the Island of Sicily
Here’s what you need for this recipe:
For the Cannoli Shells
- 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine (or Marsala wine)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
For the Ricotta Cream
- 2 cups (475 g) whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
- 1 cup (115 g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (40 g) mini chocolate chips (optional)
- 1 Orange or Lemon Zest (optional)
- Candied fruit, chopped pistachios, or additional chocolate chips for garnish (optional)
Don’t have everything on hand? No worries, here’s a list of alternative ingredients you can consider:
- Cinnamon or cocoa – add cardamom, nutmeg, saffron, orange zest, or a drop of almond extract to the dough to give it a unique taste
- All-purpose flour – consider using whole wheat or gluten-free flour
- Cheese base – try mascarpone cheese or a mix of cream cheese and ricotta for a different texture and flavor; alternatively, consider using sheep’s milk ricotta
- Flavoring – if you’re not a fan of vanilla, use almond, orange, or even rose water for a twist
- Sweetener – try using honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar to sweeten the cream
- Traditional Sicilian Cannoli often have chocolate chips or candied citrus peel (pistachios or almonds), however, you can also use dried fruits like apricots, cherries, or even zest from citrus fruits
How to make Authentic Sicilian Cannoli
Let’s get down to business and make this deliciousness!
How to make crispy cannoli shells
Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, and salt) in a large mixing bowl or food processor. Then, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Tip: Add a bit of cinnamon or cocoa powder to your cannoli dough for an added twist!
Step 2: Mix the wine and egg yolk until a cohesive dough forms. For about 5 minutes, on a surface dusted with flour, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
Step 3: The dough should rest in a plastic bag for 30-60 minutes. In the meantime, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch on a lightly floured surface. You can make perfect circles with a round cutter – mine is four inches in diameter.
Note: Use water to seal the edge of each circle before wrapping it around a cannoli form.
Step 4: Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to 375°F (190°C).
Step 5: In batches, fry the shells in oil until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes in hot oil, to get some crispy cannoli shells. Step 6: Drain on paper towels and let them cool – once cool, remove the cannoli molds.
How to Make Ricotta Filling for Cannoli
Step 1: Blend the drained ricotta cheese in a large bowl and combine the powdered sugar with the rest of the ingredients.
Step 2: Add the vanilla extract and mix well – if you’re feeling extra sweet, add the chocolate chips and citrus zest (optional)
Step 3: Put the filling in a pastry bag with a large opening. After the cannoli shells have cooled, fill them with the ricotta filling using a pastry bag or a piping bag.
Step 4: Garnish the ends with candied fruit, chopped pistachios, hazelnuts, or melted chocolate if desired – personally, I love the chocolate and pistachios the most!
Tip: Dust the cannoli filling with some extra powdered sugar before enjoying it!
Helpful Tips for this Recipe
Looking to make this recipe even better? We’ve got you!
If you want your cannoli shells to stay crisp, serve them as soon as possible after they’ve been filled – so, yes – you can prep them for an event. It’s fine to create the crispy shell and filling ahead of time, but save the filling until right before serving – if you don’t have the time, consider store-bought shells to get ahead.
Also: Make sure to use tongs when you grab them, as you could easily break the shell.
How about changing up the classic cannoli recipe a bit?
Here are some options:
- Filling Variations – Use sheep’s milk ricotta, which is creamier and has a more distinct flavor, to give it a more Tuscan twist
- Flavorings – Add honey, nuts, wines, or chocolate into the dough or ricotta filling to switch it up a bit; it’s really good (also a Tuscany twist)
- Fruits – Add figs to the filling or garnishing to give it a regional touch
What to Serve Cannoli With
You can serve cannoli with so many different dishes! Whether it’s part of a more extensive dessert spread where it’s important to balance flavors and textures or just as a simple dessert – just make sure it complements the other food.
Enjoy cannoli with a hot cup of espresso or cappuccino as a traditional pairing to balance out the sweetness with the deep roasted flavor, or serve it with a glass of limoncello, amaretto, or sambuca for an authentic Italian experience.
Here’s a list of other things you can serve it with:
- Gelato or sorbet to compliment the rich texture and flavor of cannoli, especially with flavors like lemon, pistachio, or even chocolate
- Nuts, such as toasted hazelnuts, almonds, or pistachios to, give it an extra crunch
- Fresh fruit, such as berries, oranges, or poached pears to, give it a refreshing touch
- Tiramisu or Biscotti
Dessert wines, such as Vin Santo or Moscato d’Asti
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Got questions? We’ve got the answers for you!
What is the origin of cannoli?
Many actually think it’s coming from Tuscany, however, cannoli originated in Sicily, Italy, where it has been a staple for centuries.
Why did my cannoli shells turn out too soft or not crispy?
When frying, if the oil temperature is too low, your cannoli tube could turn out too soft or not crispy enough. So, make sure the oil is hot enough and don’t crowd the pan, which might also cause the oil temperature to decrease.
How do I store leftover filled cannoli?
Unfortunately, cannoli with filling will go mushy after being stored, even if it’s only for a few hours – so, make sure to only fill enough to eat right away or within a day. Store filling and shells separately in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.
Note: Freezing cannoli is not recommended either, as thawing will make them soggy, too. However, if you’ve already frozen them, don’t rush the thawing by microwaving them, but rather take it slow.
How do I fill the cannoli shells without breaking them?
It can first seem a bit tricky, so, to make things easier, use a piping bag with a wide nozzle to fill the ricotta mixture into each end of the shell until it’s completely filled.Print