Forget the Italian bakery – with this authentic recipe make Homemade Canolli shells and filling using mascarpone and ricotta cheese.
Cannoli Made at Home
Making homemade Cannoli is a labor of love and the end result is a true pleasure. With the flaky, crispy shells and creamy filling, there are few desserts more incredible.
Cannoli from scratch may not something that can be whipped up quickly, but hopefully, I’ve come up with ways to make the process quicker and easier than you’ve seen before.
How to Make Cannoli Shells
To make the dough for the shells quicker, I used a food processor. The process is very similar to making pie crust. You start with mixing together flour, cinnamon, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.
Next add cubed, cold butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of large breadcrumbs.
Next, sprinkle in lemon juice and cold white wine and pulse with each addition until the dough just barely begins to hold together. You know that the mixture is ready if when you pinch some together with your fingers and it holds together.
Pour the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Then wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Once the dough is rested, it’s ready to roll.
The Best Way to Roll Cannoli Dough
The first time I made cannoli shells I rolled it out by hand, but it was too thick and didn’t bubble when fried. In the end, I found running the dough through a pasta maker got the dough nice and thin (plus it was a lot quicker).
For a good guide on doing this see this video on YouTube. Start on the thickest setting and end with it on it’s 2nd to the thinnest setting (which is a bit thicker than she did in the video).
How to Fry Cannoli Shells
In a large pot with a heavy bottom, start heating either shortening or the vegetable oil of your choice to 380 degrees F.
How to make Cannoli Cream
How to Assemble Cannoli
Can you make cannoli filling in advance?
You can make cannoli filling up to three days in advance. Just prepare the mixture and fill it just before eating. Storing the cannoli filled will make the shells soggy. Filling just before eating will result in a crunchy, crispy delight.
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For The Shells
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar, superfine if you can find it
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into cubes
- 4 tablespoons lemon Juice
- 4 tablespoons white wine
For The Filling:
- ½ lb ricotta, drained at least 1 hour in a cheesecloth lined strainer
- ¾ lb mascarpone cheese
- ¾ cup sugar, superfine if you can find it
- ½ cup miniature chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
- 6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
For Deep Frying:
- vegetable oil, varies depending on the size of the pot you use - fill to a depth of 3 inches
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
Preparing the dough:
- In a Food processor, mix together flour, cinnamon, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Add the cubed, cold butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of large breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle in lemon juice and cold white wine and pulse with each addition until the dough just barely begins to hold together. You know that the mixture is ready if when you pinch some together with your fingers and it holds together.
- Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap with a sheet of plastic wrap, and refrigerate 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Making The Filling:
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, mascarpone cheese, sugar, chocolate chips, vanilla, and lemon zest. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag with 1/2 inch cut in the tip and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembly and Frying:
- To roll the dough by hand, dust a work surface lightly with flour. Cut the dough in half; start with one half of the dough and keep the other half wrapped until ready to use. Roll each half out to at least 1/8-inch thick.
- If using a pasta maker, set the pasta roller on the widest setting (number 0 or 1). Flatten the dough as much as you with your hands can to help it going through the pasta roller. Run the dough through the roller twice, dusting it with flour in between rolls if it feels sticky, and then fold in half. (When rolling out pasta dough, always hold the pasta on the tops of your hands with your palms down. If you hold it fingers up you will create stretch marks). Move the roller to the next setting and run the dough through. Continue to run the dough through the machine, reducing the opening in between every roll. Stop when you get to the correct thinness, this will be around number 5 on the dial, but every machine is different and see the photos for thickness.
- Fill a large heavy-bottomed, pot with oil to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over moderate heat until the thermometer registers 375° - 380° F
- Beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water.
- Cut rounds from dough. Wrap each circle around a cannoli mold. Use a little of the egg wash on the edge of each round to seal it shut and to assure it won't slide or fall off the mold before pressing it closed over the mold.
- Use a pair of tongs to hold the edge of the mold as you submerge and fry the shell in the oil until crispy (at 380° mine took a minute). Transfer to a paper towel-lined platter to drain and cool about 5 minutes. Stand tubes upright and tap gently against the countertop to loosen shells. Twist molds to remove shells.
- Melt the chocolate and dip each end of the shells into the melted chocolate. Let stand on a wire rack to cool and set completely.
- When ready to serve, pipe filling into 1 end of a cannoli shell, filling it halfway, then pipe into the other end. Repeat to fill the remaining shells.