Sicilian cannoli (Cannoli siciliani)
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Ingredients for the cannoli shells (Metric & Imperial measurements):
- 300 grams (11 oz) Plain flour
- 20 grams (3/4 oz) Caster sugar
- 20 grams (3/4 oz) Pork lard
- 1 tsp Cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp Ground coffee (alternatively, use a pinch of cinnamon)
- A pinch of salt
- 160 ml (slightly more than 1/4 pint) Dry white wine
- 1 Egg white (for brushing)
Ingredients for the filling (Metric & Imperial measurements):
- 700 grams (1 1/2 lb) Sheep milk ricotta (alternatively, use cow milk ricotta)
- 275 grams (10 oz) Icing sugar + some extra for dusting
- 75 grams (3 oz) Mixed candied citrus peel
- 75 grams (3 oz) Candied cherries
- 75 grams (3 oz) 70% Dark chocolate
- 25 grams (1 oz) Whole shelled pistachios (alternatively, use ground pistachios)
- 2 litre Groundnut oil for frying (alternatively use vegetable oil)
- Sieve the flour, together with a pinch of salt, the cocoa powder and the ground coffee.
- Add the caster sugar.
- Rub in the lard, so that it is evenly distributed within the flour.
- Add the wine, a little at a time while stirring with the wooden spoon. For this recipe I have used exactly 160 ml of wine, but depending on the flour you are going to use, you may need a bit less or a little bit more.
- After the initial stirring with the wooden spoon, transfer the dough onto a working surface and knead until you achieve a smooth and elastic consistency (I would say, very similar to pasta dough).
- This is the dough ball after 5 minutes kneading.
- Wrap the ball with cling film and put it in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, we prepare the cannoli filling. You can pass all your ricotta cheese through a wide mesh sieve (with the help of the wooden spoon) or, as I did, through a mouli.
- Place the mouli over a large bowl, so that you can collect all the processed ricotta cheese passing through the bottom grating disc.
- Then, add 275 g (9 1/2 ounces) of icing sugar.
- Combine the ricotta and sugar by giving the mixture a good stir.
- Add the candied citrus peel and the chocolate. Chocolate should be chopped, so that you have many little pieces roughly of the dimension 2 x 2 mm (1/16" x 1/16"). Do not reduce the chocolate into fine powder, otherwise the whole mixture will become brown and it will not look nice when we will complete the cannoli with the final decoration.
- Give the mixture a good stir.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in the fridge until later, when it is time to fill the cannoli.
- Now, we start to make the cannoli shells. A pasta machine is ideal for the job because you can reduce the dough in 2 mm (1/16") thick sheets in a matter of few minutes. Alternatively, use a rolling pin.
- Divide the dough on for equal parts.
- Pass each dough through the pasta machine roller, starting from the wider settings and keep going until you reach a 2 mm (1/16") thickness (with my machine I stopped at gauge 3). Remember to dust the dough with a bit of flour when passing it through the rollers, otherwise it will stick to them.
- Lay the dough sheets over a working surface.
- Take an 88 mm diameter cookie cutter (3 1/2"); use its plain side. Dip it in the flour (it will give a neat cut) and proceed to the next step.
- Cut as many discs as you can. Do not throw the left over sheet, but re-knead it and pass it again through the pasta machine to make more sheets.
- With 300 g (10 1/2 ounces) of flour I managed to make 35 discs.
- Take the cannoli tubes and coat their external side with a little oil or lard. You need to do it only once, at the start, because after they will be lubricated anyway by the oil during the frying stage.
- The discs should be wrapped around the cannoli tubes with the extremities overlapping a bit. If the extremities are not overlapping, then gently press the discs with a rolling pin, so that they will have an oval shape. This way the extremities will easily overlap.
- Place the tube in the centre of the disc.
- Brush a little of egg white on one side of the disc and then bring the other side of the disc over, so that they stick together. Also, gently press the overlapped area with your finger so that the two parts are well joined together.
- With three cannoli tubes I managed to fry all the shells (ideally you should fry two shells at a time).
- Heat the oil until it reaches 180°C (355°F).
- Now we fry the cannoli shells.
- If you manage to keep the temperature of the oil around 180°C (355°F), it should not take more than 2 – 2 1/2 minutes to achieve a nice golden brown colour.
- Once they are ready, take the cannoli shells out of the pan.
- Place them onto kitchen paper to absorb the oil in excess.
- Squeeze the tubes with one hand and with the other push the cannoli shells out. The tubes are open all along their length so that they act like a spring when you squeeze them. Here, you may need a kitchen towel or gloves to protect your fingers because the tubes will be very hot.
- Repeat the procedure until you have fried all the discs.
- As I wrote in the introduction, fill the cannoly shorlty before consumption otherwise the shells would become soggy.
- Use the candied cherries and the pistachios to decorate your cannoli and finally, dust them with icing sugar.Enjoy this special treat with a nice cup of Italian expresso coffee!