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Holy Cannoli!

copyright vaughan adams photography

Origin: Our Big Apple expedition is only one week away, and all my dream restaurants have been booked, our trip report planned, and Google maps ear-marked of places to go and people to see. Vaughan and I will be attendants at the Boston Food Photography and Styling Conference. Photographers and food stylists from all over the world meet biannually to do workshops with top names in the industry, sharing and learning the latest trends and technology in this industry. 

As you know from past posts, dessert and sweeties are not on the top of my list, and if I do eat one, it needs to be very worth the calories.

Our family is addicted to the food channel and to watching The Cake Boss whenever we can. So of course a visit to his bakery in Brooklyn is planned. (I know he is rather ‘been there done it’ but my daughter loves him.) I must say the research I have done does not rate his wares as highly as I had imagined with Sugar Sweet Sunshine , Magnolia and Two Little Red Hens beating him hands down on tourist’s reviews of their experiences at his shop. And so to dispel the rumors I thought it only fair to Carlos that I make the trip across the bridge and to the other highly rated cake shops and dispel any reports that may be untrue.

I have never eaten a cannoli and have always wondered what the hype is all about, especially in NYC, and so decided this weekend to do abit of research and attempt to make these Sicilian suckers myself.

Of the six recipes I read, all highly rated as the most original cannoli recipe, I decided to hash them together and came up with my own version.

Masala wine seems to be a must and after visiting three bottle stores, I stopped at our local favorite restaurant Remo’s to buy a loaf of freshly baked ciabata and bumped into the owner Renzo. While moaning about my three unsuccessful stops to find Masala, an original Italian wine, he rushed behind the counter and zipped out the last bottle of Masala he had in stock. Thank goodness or my plans would have been dashed.

Anyway, Masala in hand, I rushed back to start the canolli.They are dead easy to make. I don’t think you can mess them up too easily and I consider the effort the same as making fresh pasta.

To make these it is essential you either have cannoli tubes or any metal tube approximately 120mm x 20mm long and thick which of course I did not…..but luckily I do have an ‘uncle in the furniture business’ and so I rushed off to Kitchen Classics, (yes the one we used to own for 18 years and still the best one in Durban) and got one of the guys to cut me some aluminum round hanging rail into small pieces.)

These worked perfectly, but after analyzing the whole process first prize would be to have very light weight metal cones as these were quite heavy and so when you put them in the oil they sank to the bottom and the cannoli got a ‘well done line’ on the one side that sat on the base of the pot.

I solved this by dropping them into the pot, and using a metal skewer which I inserted into the one end of the tube, I suspended it, keeping it off the bottom slightly while they cooked.

End result – very nice light biscuit, crispy and not too sweet. The filling I chose had quite a strong taste of bitter chocolate and orange and I added finely chopped candied orange peel Lindt chocolate. Well worth the calories and a winner with my guests!


Cannoli Shells.

350 g  cake flour

50 g castor sugar

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

50 g butter

125ml Masala wine

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons white vinegar

egg white to use as the ‘glue’

3  litres of sunflower oil for deep fat frying


  1.  Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency.
  2. Whisk the wine, eggs and vinegar together and add to the above flour mixture.
  3. Form into a ball and on a lightly floured surface knead gently.
  4. You may add a little water if it is too dry.
  5. Wrap in cling wrap and keep in the fridge for at least an hour.
  6. Using a pasta making machine, divide the pastry into 5 smaller balls and feed them through the pasta machine starting on 1. Put it through at least 6 to 7 times. I don’t take it to the last setting, but stop on 5 or 6.
  7. Now find a small dish, or cookie cutter that is about 10cm in diameter and cut out rounds of the dough.
  8. Take your cannoli tube, and wrap the dough around the tube, lightly brushing the end with egg white so that you can ‘glue’ the ends together.
  9. The temperature of the oil is the most important of the entire process. It should be at 170 oC and if you don’t have a thermometer, it may take one or two tries to get it to the correct heat. They need to cook for 2 – 3 minutes and must not brown too quickly as they will not be crispy.
  10. Once cooked, remove with tongs, drain on some absorbent kitchen towel.
  11. As soon as they have cooled, gently remove the tubes.


1 tub (410g) fresh ricotta cheese

200 g castor sugar

10ml vanilla essence

5 ml honey

100g Lindt orange peel chocolate finely chopped.


  1.  Mix all the ingredients together and using a piping bag, fill the cooled cannoli’s.
  2. Serve on a platter and dust with icing sugar.


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. these look awesome! enjoy NY – one of my favourite city’s in the world!

    June 13, 2011
    • Am so excited…been just about everywhere else but not NY! Am going to come back double the size I can see it!

      June 13, 2011

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