You don’t have to live in Sicily to know about this pastry specialty. Cannoli Siciliani have spread to bakeries across Europe, and just by looking at this sweet deliciousness, there is no question about why. Cannoli are fried dough rolls with a filling of sweet and creamy Ricotta. Vanilla, chocolate and candied fruits often refine the sweet tubes.
Invented and eaten initially as a typical lard pastry only during carnival, Cannoli Siciliani are now available throughout the whole year. Where there is an Italian bakery, there are Cannoli.
Cannolo, the singular of Cannoli, translates to „small tube“ which does not relate to the pastry itself but to the 15 cm long tubes that are used to prepare the hollow dough rolls.
The Evolution Of Cannoli Siciliani
Just like with Cassata, Sicilian master confectionists perfected Cannoli Siciliani over many centuries. But who actually invented the filled rolls is not clear until this day. The most promising traces lead to cloister nuns in the province of Caltanissetta, right in the center of Sicily. The sisters supposedly served similar pastry during the festivities in the carnival season. Today the pastry has become one of the most popular and well-known Dolci. Their registration in the official list of traditional Italian foods additionally emphasizes the cultural importance of Cannoli.
With their growing popularity over the decades, Sicilian pastry chefs have created many variations of Cannoli to satisfy all preferences. While some swear by sheep ricotta, others have experimented with buffalo ricotta for the filling. In the western region around Palermo, candied cherries play a major role. In contrast, confectionists and pastry lovers around Catania go for pistachios and chocolate bits.
If you don’t happen to travel to Sicily soon, there is no need to forgo this sweet deliciousness. Simply give it a try yourself with this easy and authentic Italian recipe:
- 150 gram flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp butter lard
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 cup Espresso
- 1 egg yoke
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Marsala
- 250 gram ricotta
- 80 gram powdered sugar
- vanilla sugar
- pistacios, freshly chopped
- candied fruits
- Mix flour, salt and lard to form a dough
- Add sugar, Espresso, Marsala, cocoa powder and cinnamon and blend all ingredients well until you get a smooth mass
- Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough and cut it into aquares of about 8cm x 8cm - depending on how long and big you want the Cannoli to be later on, you can adjust the size of the dough pieces.
- Place a tube (metal tubes or wooden tubes wrapped in aluminium foil) diagonally on each dough square, brush the ends with some yoke and roll them around the tubes
- Fill a pan up to 3cm with oil and heat it up
- Let the Cannoli fry in the oil for about 3 minutes
- Take out the Cannoli, pull out the tubes carefully and let them drip and cool on a piece of kitchen roll
- For the filling, mix ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla sugar, pistachios and candied fruits and let it cool for a few minutes in the fridge
- Fill the ricotta mass into a an icing bad and inject it into the Cannoli from both sides
- Dredge the filled Cannoli with powdered sugar
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Uncooked Cannoli by Andrew Malone, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Other images by SunnySideCircus