7 essential tips that will help you breeze through making Cannolis: Impress even your Italian Guests.
Let me tell ya, the Italians got something right. Okay, more like many things right. Their food is beyond any type of cuisine I’ve ever had. I realize the French are food geniuses as well, but there is just something about a home cooked Italian meal. I might be biased though since I have an obsession with pasta and Italians are the masters of making pasta. I’m not talking about pasta today though, I’m talking about another traditional Italian dish, the cannoli. I was thrilled when I was asked to make some Christmas cannolis for a client this year. Confession, I had never made them before, but I had always wanted to give them the good ole’ college try. Maybe it was beginners luck, but these cannolis turned out deliziosa! Cannolis are a daunting dessert to take on, but I implore you to try! They are so fun to make and with my 7 essential tips, your cannolis are bound to turn out magnifico!
I also need to give a shout out to my wonderful grandmother for helping me with these cannolis. You guys, it is so much easier to make these with a partner. So, grab a family member or a friend that enjoys cooking, a bottle of wine, and get cooking!
7 Essential Tips When Making Cannolis
1. Cannolis Forms Are a Must!
The cannolis shell is this light flaky pastry that you shape into a certain mold and deep fry. Think of it as an elephant ear that is rolled into a certain shape, because essentially that’s exactly what it is. It is also the most difficult part of this whole dessert. Before I started making the cannolis, I knew right away that I would need a cannolis mold to make sure they held their proper shape while frying. These cannoli forms look like mini pipes, about 6 inches long and an inch in diameter. These forms are a complete life saver! Please, don’t be that person that says, “I can totally DIY these and make them out of tin foil”. It’s completely worth it to buy these and it’s make such a difference in your whole baking process. Not to mention, these are very inexpensive. I’ll link the cannolis forms here, so you can have a stress free cannolis experience.
2. It’s All in the Wrapping.
The most frequent problem I had were the cannoli shells popping off the mold. At the beginning, I could not for the life of me figure out a way to wrap them to make sure they wouldn’t pop off the mold. I knew there would be a learning curve with the first 5… or 10 cannoli shells I made. This is what I found, wrap the dough so that the flap has at least half an inch overlap with the rest of the cannoli. At the beginning, I was only overlapping the dough about a couple centimeters. This wasn’t enough overlap to seal that cannoli together, so when I put the shell into the fryer, it would just pop right off the mold. Also, make sure you’re egg washing the flap of the dough before you lay it down. This egg wash really helps to keep the cannoli dough together while frying. Another realization I had while wrapping was, don’t wrap the dough too tight. When the dough kept popping off the mold, I thought to myself, “Okay, let’s just wrap it tighter, duh.” Yeah, not so much. When I wrapped it too tightly, I found that the shell stuck to the mold when it came out of the fryer. It was almost impossible to get the shell off when I wrapped it too tightly. A couple of ways I dealt with the shell sticking to the mold were to oil the molds before putting the dough on and to find your patience. Make sure your molds have a little bit of lubricant on them, so when the shells come out of the fryer, they won’t stick and they will fall right off the mold. Also, take your time and be patient. The shells sometimes take time to get off the mold and you just have to do it patiently. I would take two paper towels, one wrapped around the shell and the other around the mold. I would slowly twist and pull until the shell would pop off the mold.
3. Correct Oil Temperature is Key
When frying your cannolis, you should keep the temperature between 345-355 degrees. This ensures that they get a nice even fry. I don’t remember why, but at some point I decided to turn the temperature up to 365. I probably just wanted the process to go faster. Well, if anything, it made the process go much slower. I found that the oil got so hot that it started violently boiling. The bubbling oil was tossing my cannoli shells everywhere within the deep fryer. Essentially, that ended up with the cannoli shells getting knocked off their mold and losing their form. Lesson learned.
4. Drain Your Ricotta
Ricotta is a type of cheese that contains a bit of moisture. You’re going to want to try to get as much of the moisture out of the ricotta, before you pipe them into the shells. If they have too much moisture when you pipe them into the shell, it can result in the shell getting soggy. The easiest way to do this is strain your ricotta with cheese cloth. If you don’t have cheese cloth, then put your ricotta into a colander( make sure the holes in your colander aren’t so big that your ricotta is falling through the bottom) and let drain over night. When you check it the next morning you will notice that a puddle of liquid has accumulated at the top. Drain the excess liquid off and you are good to go. If you ever come to the point where your ricotta filling is to thick and won’t pipe through your bag, don’t fear! I found the solution to this problem is to mix a little heavy cream with the mixture until it becomes a little more fluid. Make sure you only add a little heavy cream at a time, you don’t want to over do it.
5. Whip It, Whip It Good
Ricotta is similar to cottage cheese in the way that they both have curds. Ricotta has much smaller curds than cottage cheese though. Make sure you whip these curds out of the ricotta before you start making your cannoli filling. If you don’t, you could end up with a filling that has a texture that is a little grainy. Truthfully, there is nothing wrong with it and it tastes delicious no matter what. Some people like to mix equal parts ricotta and mascarpone. This gives a similar flavor, but the mascarpone is a much smoother consistency.
6. Fill Right Before Serving
This is probably the most essential tip to making cannolis. Cannolis are known for their crunchy and flaky shell, filled with a smooth ricotta mixture. You will never get that crunchy shell if you try to fill them before hand. The ricotta will start to seep into the shells and make them soggy. The earliest I would fill the shells is an hour before serving. If you have to fill them before hand, put them in the freezer. That will keep that ricotta mixture from leaking moisture into the shell and making the shell soggy.
7. How Do I Store My Cannolis?
Okay, I did a lot of research on this topic and this is what worked for me. I made my cannolis shells two days before I filled them. The cannolis shells will stay good for up to a week if you store them in an air tight container. So, I made my shells and lightly stacked them in an air tight container, with a paper towel in-between each layer of cannolis. I used the paper towel to catch some of the oil that came off of them while sitting in the container. Without the paper towels, the oil would have just leaked into the cannoli shells under them, making them soggy. I also made the ricotta filling two days before filling as well. This mixture can last up to three days in the fridge. I filled the cannolis about thirty minutes before the customers came to pick them up. I also took extra cannolis to my family’s house. I put these in the freezer until we were ready to eat.
Hope you guys enjoyed these 7 essential tips on making cannolis! If you want more delicious treats to make, check out my Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake Recipe! Also, if you guys haven’t found a cannolis recipe that you’re obsessed with yet, check out Cooking Classy’s Cannoli Recipe! This recipe is truly delicious and really lets the taste of the ricotta shine through. Please give this recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed!