It’s my birthday so I figured I could post something fried and full of white sugar and flour and get away with it. :)
I was in the mood to fry something so I thought I’d finally give cannoli a try. And they were a pain in the butt, although not because they’re that difficult to make. It’s just flour issues. Flour is different in every country, and although sometimes it doesn’t matter that much, like with cake, it makes a huge difference in cookies, bread, and pie crust. This is why I’ve never posted something with white flour before. Whole wheat and spelt are healthier, but they also appear to be pretty much the same in the Germany and the US, meaning I can post recipes without worrying about if they’ll work in both places.
I could have gone to the Italian shop and bought Italian flour, used an Italian recipe and called it a day, but I was stubborn. I wanted to use an American recipe and then try to adapt it with my German flour so that North Americans and people in Germany could make it too. After nine hours and a few thousand calories later, I gave up. I just couldn’t eat any more.
So instead I bring you the recipe for the filling and homemade ricotta / light mascarpone! If you want to make your own shells, I suggest Cannoli Siciliani from La Mia Vita Dolce. This isn’t the recipe I tried, just because I don’t have access to some of the ingredients, but I’m pretty confident that they’re delicious because the dough I used had almost the same ingredients and the dough itself tasted amazing. And the marsala and cinnamon? It sounded a little strange to me but it’s delicious. Don’t skip the marsala! If you use a cannoli recipe that calls for it, go out and get some. I don’t like wine but the flavor it added to the dough was just fantastic.
I really doubt that anyone would use this ricotta recipe for cannoli, just because it’s probably cheaper to go out and buy it, but I did. I made it and then had enough to fill only about a dozen shells. And it was insanely good. Maybe I should say that this makes enough for 14 – 15 shells, but I’m not really sure so I’ll stick with twelve. But this ricotta also makes incredibly rich lasagna. I’ve made lasagna with it several times and you can always tell the difference between the two versions. It’s just so much richer and creamier!
I’ve never really been a fan of plain ricotta. It just has a weird texture and although I didn’t have a problem putting it in lasagna, I would have never eaten it plain. But this slightly sweet and rich version has the perfect texture. And the whey that drips down is also slightly sweet, which I didn’t want to drink but Mr. Texanerin seemed to love it.
I read all the comments from the original recipe and people questioned if this recipe was authentic, which it’s not, or if it’s even really ricotta, which it doesn’t appear to be. It seems to be a mix of ricotta and mascarpone. Mascarpone is made in the same way, but with all cream and not just 1/3 cream, hence the “light” mascarpone. I don’t care if it’s mascarpone or ricotta, whatever this is is delicious and I use it in place of ricotta with no problems.
Ricotta was originally made with the whey that was left after making pecorino, a type of cheese made from ewe’s milk. And this ricotta is then used in cannoli. Although I’d like to be authentic, I just don’t have access to ricotta di pecora, which is really sad, considering I live near an Italian shop.
Ricotta / light mascarpone:
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pour the milk, cream and salt into a large nonreactive pot. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer and over medium heat, heat the milk to 190°F / 88°C. Stir every now and then to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat and then add the lemon juice. Slowly stir the mixture once or twice. Go away so you’re not tempted to mess with it and come back 10 minutes later.
Place a colander over a large bowl, making sure that there’s an inch or two between the bottom of the colander and the pot. Line the colander with a few layers of cheesecloth. Pour the ricotta mixture in the pot into the cheesecloth lined colander. Strain it at least for two hours. If you can, ring out some of the liquid and then put the whole colandar/pot/cheesecloth setup in the fridge. Or if you don’t want it super rich, you can just put the ricotta in a container and in the fridge. No need to drain it more. It will firm as it cools so don’t be worried that it’s not firm yet. Yields about 2 cups. Shelf life varies depending on the milk you used, but it should stay good for at least 3-4 days. Just give it a smell and you’ll know if it’s good or not. Or even better, just use it immediately. :)
Source: Rich homemade ricotta
- the “ricotta” from above
- ~90 – 150 grams powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Make the ricotta and drain overnight. The next day, mix the ricotta in a medium bowl along with about 1/3 cup (42 grams) powdered sugar. Add more powdered sugar, a little at a time until it’s sweet enough for you (I used about 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp or 90 grams total) and then mix in the vanilla. That’s it! If you like, dip the edges of your completely cooled shells in some melted chocolate, place on a Silpat or a piece of wax paper, and then place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until set. Then pipe the filling into the shells using tip 2B or whatever tip you’d like. Only pipe before serving. If you let them sit overnight, they’ll get soggy. But if there are leftovers, I’d store them in the fridge because of the ricotta.
If you want to use store bought ricotta, then check these Cannoli Siciliani out. Or if you have ricotta di pecora, try this recipe from Apron and Sneakers.
People in Germany: I got my Marsala from Centro Italia but I hope you’d be able to find it in any wine shop. The regular grocery stores don’t seem to have it here. And do yourself a favor and don’t try using American recipes for cannoli. The dough comes out rubbery because of gluten/protein issues. I tried using different proportions of 550 / 405 flour, even added vital wheat gluten once, and nothing worked. Centro Italia also has premade cannoli shells but I haven’t tried them. Although I saw a smaller version of these at Kaufland for 4.99, I got these to make the cannoli: Zenker 4448 Schaumrollenset 4-er, groß and I can’t imagine using anything smaller than these.