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Traditional Style Sicilian Cannoli

Cannoli is one of the best known Italian desserts, but next time you are in the mood for this sweet Italian treat, rather than heading to the bakery why not try making your own? We are using Limoncello, orange, chocolate chips and more here, and you will find these flavors go together very nicely. Feel free to swap the Limoncello for a different lemon liqueur if you like, or even orange liqueur if you prefer. If you do not want to use alcohol, then substitute for some orange juice.

If you compare Americanized cannoli with the authentic Italian kind, you will find the American ones are often too big and too stuffed with filling. The Italian ones are smaller and dainty. They can be eaten in 2 bites. You can use sheep’s milk ricotta for the most traditional result, or cow’s milk ricotta if you prefer, but it is vital to drain it for an hour before using, else the filling will be too watery. It is best to fill the shells just before serving the cannoli, for optimal freshness and so they do not go soggy.

You can use a one-gallon freezer bag instead of a piping bag if you like. Just snip off the end. You will also need some cannoli tubes to shape the shells. You can order those online or buy them in a baking store. You will need a 4-inch cookie cutter too. Once you have all your ingredients and equipment you can get started making these wonderful authentic cannoli. Enjoy them with a cup of coffee or another kind of drink. One makes a delicious snack but perhaps you will not be able to resist the second!

Orange and Chocolate Chip Cannoli
Summary: These sweet treats are flavored with lemon liqueur, orange, chocolate chips and ricotta, and the crunchy shells are just as good as the smooth, creamy, rich filling.
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For the Dough
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, chilled unsalted butter
  • 8 tablespoons Limoncello liqueur
For the Filling
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta, drained for an hour in a cheesecloth-lined sieve
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup superfine sugar
To Cook and Serve
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 lightly beaten egg white
  • Candied orange zest or strips of fresh zest, for garnish
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
  1. First you are going to make the dough.
  2. Whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Blend in the butter using your fingers until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal.
  4. Drizzle in the Limoncello and stir it in with a fork.
  5. Turn the dough on to a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a bowl, wrapping the plastic tight around it.
  6. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for an hour.
  7. Stir the ricotta with the orange zest, vanilla, chocolate chips, and sugar to make the filling.
  8. Transfer this mixture into a pastry bag with a ½-inch tip.
  9. You can make this up to a day ahead if you like, keeping it refrigerated.
  10. Now divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll out each piece to ⅛-inch thick.
  11. Cut out 2 or 3 rounds from each using a 4-inch round cookie cutter.
  12. Put the rounds on a baking sheet and keep them covered with plastic wrap.
  13. Fill a 4-quart pan with 3 inches of oil, and heat to 375 degrees F.
  14. Brush some egg white over the bottom edge of a dough round, then wrap it around a cannoli tube.
  15. Have the egg white brushed part overlapping the other end, then press together to seal.
  16. Make 5 more the same way, keeping the rest of the rounds covered in plastic wrap.
  17. Fry the shells in hot oil for a minute, until golden brown.
  18. Drain them on a paper towel-lined plate for 5 minutes, then stand them upright and tap them on the counter to get the shells off the molds.
  19. Repeat with the remaining dough to make more shells.
  20. If you like, you can make these shells up to 24 hours ahead, keeping them uncovered at room temperature before filling the next day.
  21. Pipe the filling into the cannoli shells until half-filled, then pipe into the other end.
  22. Dust with powdered sugar if liked.
  23. Garnish with orange zest and serve.

Photo Description:

Anyone can bake cakes or cookies and guess what, anyone can make delicious cannoli as well! First we are making the pastry shells and then the filling. We are finishing off by garnishing the finished cannoli with some orange zest, and you can use candied zest or fresh zest if you want. Because these are best filled just before serving, we suggest you get the timing right, so everyone can enjoy these at their most perfect, although it is fine to prepare the shells up to a day ahead if you want to split the workload.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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