I love living in South Carolina, but there is a severe lack of Italian bakeries around here! So I've learned that if I want good cannoli, you have to make them yourself! This traditional homemade cannoli recipe has crispy fried shell and is filled with a creamy whipped ricotta filling!
Why This Recipe Works
I love cannoli because they aren't overly sweet (aka it's easy like 5 in one sitting).
The best thing about homemade cannoli is that they're super versatile, so you can have whatever flavor combo you want!
For these cannoli, I did a plain ricotta filling and just added different toppings on top. 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)
- Chocolate cannoli shell (add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the dough for the cannoli shells)
- Chocolate dipped cannoli shells
Most of the ingredients you need to make cannoli are pantry staples you likely already have at home! The two special ingredients you need are:
- Marsala wine - Cannoli dough is traditionally made with marsala, 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. You can also swap out the ricotta for mascarpone cheese!
How to Strain Ricotta
Since ricotta contains a lot of water, it needs to be strained before whipping. You'll need:
- 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 Homemade Cannoli
The dough is super easy and comes together quickly in a food processor!
Make the dough and let rest in a lightly oiled bowl for an hour.
Roll out the dough as thin as possible and cut into 4 inch rounds.
Wrap rounds around greased cannoli forms, brush top or bottom edge with egg white to seal shut.
Fry in preheated oil until golden brown and crisp, then drain on paper towels.
Remove shells and let forms cool and repeat process.
Stir your desired toppings into the ricotta filling and pipe into the cannoli shells.
Or leave the filling plain and let people choose their own toppings!
Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Yes! You can buy Cannoli shells at some specialty stores or online.
As soon as the cannoli are filled they will start to soften, so they're best eaten within 1-2 hours of filling. However, you can store the filling and shells separately to keep them fresh longer!
You can store fried cannoli shells in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Store in the filling in the fridge.
Yes!! I know it's an extra step, but it's what will keep your cannoli from getting soggy!
More Recipes You Might Like
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- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup marsala wine
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk, set aside egg white for brushing
- 16 ounces ricotta cheese, strained
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the food processor and pulse until just combined. Then add in the cold butter and pulse until you have small crumbles. You can also make the dough by hand the same way you would make pie crust.
- Add the whole egg, egg yolk, and marsala and pulse until the dough comes together into a shaggy ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for 2-4 minutes until you have a smooth ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and rest for 1 hour.
- While the dough is resting, add about 2 inches of vegetable oil to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 350°F.
- Roll out the dough as thin as possible (⅛th to 1/16th inch thick) and use a 4 inch cookie cutter to cut into rounds. For mini cannoli use a 2 inch cookie cutter.
- Lightly brush the cannoli forms with vegetable oil and then wrap the cannoli dough around each form. Brush the edge where the ends meet with egg white and press gently to seal.
- Fry the shells at 350°F for about 1 minute on each side until golden brown and crispy. Only fry 4-5 at a time so as not to crowd the pan.
- Use tongs to transfer the cannoli to a paper towel to drain. Immediately remove the form from the cannoli (you can use the tongs and a paper towel to gently wiggle it off the form, just be careful!).
- Let the forms cool fully and repeat the process with the remaining dough circles. Let the cannoli shells cool fully before filling.
- While the cannoli are cooling, make the filling.
- Add the strained ricotta, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, whip the ricotta until it's fully combined and smooth. If desired, fold in chopped nuts or chocolate chips!
- When ready to use transfer to a piping bag, snip the tip off and fill the shells. Then press on desired toppings!