Thursday, August 22, 2013

Holy Cannoli!

It seems there is a first time for everything, even at my age.  I can't believe I made cannoli!   My Uncles were in the Pastry business in Manhattan,  so there was never a need to make a pastry in my house.  I ate so many as a child, it was the furthest thing from my mind. 
I woke up determined to make Cannoli.  I have no idea why.  They are unavailable in this areas as Pastry shops are non existent here.  I decided to give it a try.  How complicated could it be anyway?  What a wonderful surprise.  It brought back such memories.   If I can do it, you can too.  Enjoy!

Makes 12-15 / 4 inch Cannoli Shells

Ingredients:  For the shells
one package of Metal Tubes (sold in sets of 4)

1 plus 1/3 cup unbleached flour ( 1/4 cup for you board or counter)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon shortening  (This is what I used)
You may substitute 2 tablespoon butter if you like
about 1 cup of white wine
Method:  In a bowl of a food Processor add your flour, sugar, salt and pulse.  Add your shortening or butter and mix.   Add your liquid a little at a time until your dough comes together like a pie crust.  Should just take a few seconds.  Carefully remove your dough ball onto a floured surface.  Roll over once with some additional flour if necessary so your dough doesn't stick to your hands.  Place it in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
You will need a rolling pin.  Carefully remove your dough from refrigerator.   Working with a one inch piece at a time.  Roll out a piece of dough into a small circle.  Working from one end, carefully wrap you dough around your metal cannoli form.  Let your end overlap slightly as you roll your dough around the tube.  Your tube will be slightly be exposed on each end as the dough will slightly overlap.  Carefully seal by brushing your egg wash across the seam. 
 Be sure your dough is rolled out as thin as you can get it without breaking and continue in the fashion.  This will keep your cannoli from breaking.
 In the meantime,  heat up some good frying oil about an inch up the pan.  Your cannoli's do not have to be submerged in oil while frying.  You will have better control this way. 

To remove the cannoli from the metal tube, carefully remove your cannoli from the hot oil and let drain on paper towels to cool.  When cool enough to handle (just a few minutes should do),  Carefully squeeze the very end of the exposed metal tube above the Cannoli.  The cannoli now should slip right off. 

 Keep your cannoli shells  frying 2 at a time.  You will notice tiny bubbles forming on the shell itself.  This is what you want to have happen.  This is a reaction the oil has with the wine in the batter.  It causes a light, crisp shell to form.  This is the ideal cannoli.   Do not try to overcrowd the pan.   You should only fry about 30 seconds on each side.  They will cook quickly because they are so thin.  Be sure your dough is rolled out as thin as you can get it.   Fry until golden by gently turning the cannoli's once in the hot oil.

It's best to let them cool and use them right away.  If you are doing this the day before, you can make the cream filling, but do not fill them until you are ready to serve them.  This will ensure they don't get soggy. 
For the cream:
One pastry bag with a small tip on end
1  container Whole milk Ricotta (15oz),  drained  (store variety is fine).
3/4 cup of confectioners sugar
2 cups whipped cream with pinch of confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract (Good Bourbon Vanilla)

Method:  Carefully whip your cream to stiff, fluffy peaks.
In a bowl combine your Ricotta, sugar, vanilla and set aside.  Carefully fold your whipped cream into your ricotta mixture a little at a time.  You should get a beautiful, fluffy, consistency. Place in your refrigerator until you are ready to use.  It doesn't take long to make at all.  You can make it in just a few minutes. 
Carefully fill your pastry bag with the cream filling.  Slowly insert the tip into one end of your Cannoli and fill to the opposite end.  Keep going until they are all filled.   Serve immediately.  They can be made up to several hours in advance.  It is best to fill your Cannoli's and serve.   Top the ends off with chocolate chips if you like.   Enjoy! Buon Appetito

Special note:  If you want a more flavorful Cannoli shell try adding a teaspoon of Cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder to your batter in your food processor.  If you do not get at least 12 shells from this batter, you have not rolled out the dough thin enough.  Just keep trying.  Practice makes perfect!  Follow the steps above for the shells.  

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