What's better than a cannoli? Cannoli cupcakes topped with whipped ricotta and mascarpone frosting, then topped with a mini homemade cannoli! It's a combo of my two favorite desserts for the most decadent Italian-inspired treat!
Why You'll Love These Cupcakes!
These cupcakes are inspired by the flavors of classic cannoli!
I love cannoli because they aren't overly sweet so these cupcakes are flavored with marsala wine and have a subtlety sweet ricotta frosting!
The best thing about homemade cannoli is that they're super versatile, so you can have whatever flavor combo you want!
For these cannoli cupcakes, I did a plain ricotta filling and just added different toppings to the mini cannoli, but the toppings are even better mixed in!
Some classic flavors are:
- Mini chocolate chips
- Chopped hazelnuts
- Chopped pistachios
- Candied fruit (candied orange peel is a popular choice)
- Espresso (add 1 tablespoon of espresso powder to the filling)
Whatever flavor you want, just add it into the frosting or sprinkle on top!
You just need a few special ingredients to make these cannoli cupcakes!
- Cake flour - I always use cake flour in my cupcakes because it makes them super soft and tender, but all purpose flour also works great!
- Marsala wine - Cannoli dough is traditionally made with marsala so I like to add a bit to the cupcake batter, but you can substitute any dry white wine (like sherry).
- Whole milk ricotta cheese - The creamy ricotta filling is what makes cannoli so good! Whole milk ricotta has the best flavor and typically isn't as watery as skim varieties. But even whole milk ricotta needs to be strained so that you don't end up with soggy cannoli cupcakes. You can also swap out the ricotta for mascarpone cheese!
- Mascarpone cheese - Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that's very similar to American cream cheese. It's smooth and soft but more neutral in flavor compared to tangy cream cheese. And in my opinion, that mild flavor makes it much more versatile! We use it in the frosting to help stabilize the ricotta frosting.
The complete list of ingredients and amounts is located in the recipe card below.
How to Strain Ricotta
Since ricotta contains a lot of water, it needs to be strained before whipping into frosting.
- Medium sized bowl
Place a strainer over a bowl and then lay a cheesecloth inside the strainer. Gently spread the ricotta into an even layer. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator. Let the ricotta cheese strain overnight (at least 8-12 hours).
How to Make Cannoli Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together until combined.
Stir in about half of the flour mixture, then stir in the milk and marsala wine. Then the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full). Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Let the cannoli cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Cupcake Decorating Tips
- Make sure you let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!!
- To decorate all of my cakes and cupcakes, I use this Wilton Decorating Kit and I love it! It’s super easy to use and has a ton of tips in different sizes. For these cannoli cupcakes, I used the 1M tip.
- After frosting, garnish with a mini homemade cannoli!
Tips for the Best Baked Goods
Use room temperature ingredients! Always make sure ingredients like butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. are at room temperature before baking (unless the recipe indicates otherwise)! This ensures they'll incorporate into the batter more easily and leads to overall better texture. Remove all ingredients from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before baking for best results.
Measure your flour correctly! It's most accurate to use a kitchen scale, but if you're measuring by volume you want to spoon and level! Fluff up the flour a bit with a spoon, and then spoon flour into the measuring cup. Once it's overflowing, use the back of a knife to level it off. Don't ever pack flour into the measuring cup or you'll end up with way too much! Improperly measured flour can lead to dry, dense baked goods. [Measure cocoa powder the same way!]
Use an oven thermometer! Just because your oven says it's 350, doesn't mean it is! If you oven hasn't been calibrated recently, it can be as much as 30 degrees off, which will negatively affect all baked goods from cakes to macarons! An oven thermometer is the easiest/cheapest way to ensure your oven is always at the proper temperature.
Make sure you baking powder is fresh! Baking powder is important for helping baked goods rise properly, but it has a relatively short shelf life once opened, so it's one of the few items I never buy in bulk! To test if your baking powder is still fresh, add a small amount to boiling water. If it bubbles it's still good to use, but if not it's time to toss it!
Since these have a ricotta frosting, they're best eaten the same day! But these cupcakes will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. However, they taste best when served at room temperature! I like to let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving. Wait to top with mini cannoli until right before serving!
Yes!! I know it's an extra step, but it's what will keep your cupcakes from getting soggy!
Yes! You can buy Cannoli shells at some specialty stores or online.
Tips for Success!
For best results I always recommend using weight measurements (especially when baking) because it's the most accurate. Kitchen scales are super affordable and also reduce the number of dishes you have to do! However, all my recipes also include US customary measurements for convince. Use this chart to convert measurements for common ingredients!
Substitutions: In all my recipes, I've included substitutions that I know will work, but I cannot guarantee results if you substitute ingredients that I have not recommended. [For example, granulated sugar and honey are indeed both sweeteners but they have very different properties so they can not always be swapped 1:1. Using honey in a cookie recipe that calls for granulated sugar will yield a giant mess.] In the recipe card you'll find links to the specific ingredients/brands that I use.
A note on salt: I almost exclusively use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt because it's the best all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If you're not using kosher salt, consult this handy guide for a conversion chart! When in doubt, if you're using table salt just reduce the amount by half for baked goods. When cooking, I prefer to under-salt because you can always add more! If you've over-salted, adding a little bit of acid (like lemon juice) can help.
More Recipes You Might Like!
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- 8 ounces ricotta cheese, strained
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together until combined.
- Stir in about half of the flour mixture, then stir in the milk and marsala wine. Then the rest of the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. The batter will be thin.
- Pour about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner (they should be about halfway full). Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
- Add the strained ricotta, mascarpone, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, whip the frosting until it's fully combined and smooth.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used a 1M tip for these photos. Garnish with mini cannoli!
- Since these have a ricotta frosting, they're best eaten the same day! But these cupcakes will last in the fridge for up to 3 days. However, they taste best when served at room temperature! I like to let them sit at room temperature for about an hour before serving. Wait to top with mini cannoli until right before serving!
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.