The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
I was really excited when I saw this month’s challenge, I had always wanted to try making cannoi at home. I didn’t have any cannoli forms but found some at a local kitchen supply store for $4. Considering I how much I enjoyed this recipe, I am pretty confident they will more than make up for the small cost.
When I checked the calendar I realized that posting day was going to fall on the day after Thanksgiving so I decided to go with a Christmas theme. I dipped the cannoli in a couple of ounces of melted dark chocolate and then dipped them in sprinkles. I let them sit for a few minutes and then filled them with Peppermint Mascarpone Filling. It was deliciously Christmas-y.
Since I was using dark chocolate for the dipping I decided that I would use red wine instead of white wine for the dough. Thus, my cannoli were a little darker than usual but they were still scrumptious. Lisa Michele noted in the original challenge that for those who don’t like to cook or bake with alcohol – grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, apple juice..any sweet juice of a fruit, especially ones used in or to make wine, can be substituted. Just add a little more vinegar to insure you get enough acid to relax the dough.
Due to time, I only cooked half of the dough and refrigerated the rest. If you cook the whole thing double the peppermint filling recipe.
I was very pleased with the results of this cannoli. I think I will use the left over dough to try a savory version. And one last note, if you’ve got people in your household who can’t eat dairy have no fear, we even made some for my lactose intolerant friend. We skipped dipping hers in the chocolate and substituted dairy free cream cheese for the mascarpone. The results were just as delicious.
Now, who’s ready for the Holidays?
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels.
Dip the cooled cannoli shells into the melted chocolate and then dip into the sprinkles. Allow to set for 5 minutes while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, place mascarpone cheese, 1 tablespoon of sugar and crushed peppermint candies into a bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture will turn pink. Taste and add more sugar until desired sweetness.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the peppermint filling. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
Sprinkle each end with peppermint candies. Serve.