When I saw we were making Cannoli this month for the DB challenge, I must say I was a bit relieved. Even though I have never seen a cannolo before, I have had more success with things Italian than French when it comes to these challenges.
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
Cannoli are popular Italian-American pastries, although they date back to Palermo in Sicily, where they were made during the Carnevale season. The cannoli are fried, tube-shaped pastry shells (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy filling of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts.
Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, instead of ricotta (sometimes with ricotta) to make for a creamier filling. Cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc.
We had to make the crisp cannoli pastry shells using the given recipe but were free to choose the shapes of our cannoli, filling and presentation. To make the cannoli, one needs metal or wooden cannoli moulds around which the dough for the pastry is wrapped before deep frying it.
These moulds are not available here, so we made the moulds at home. We bought a 2 feet long 3/4″ diameter) piece of steel curtain rod from the hardware store. My husband cut this into six pieces (4″ long) to make perfect cannoli moulds.
I substituted the marsala with unsweetened apple juice while making the cannoli pastry dough. I left out the cinnamon as my daughter doesn’t like cinnamon too much. I also did not use the egg (given in the original recipe) for sealing the dough circles around the moulds before deep frying. I used a paste made with all purpose flour and a bit of water instead, which is what we usually use in India, for this purpose.
I had planned to do this challenge early in the month, but the flu paid us a very unwelcome and extended visit, so I ended up making my cannoli early this week. Ricotta is a cheese which is not available here, but Indian soft cheese called paneer is pretty much like ricotta and a very good substitute. Not having much energy or time to make my own ricotta or mascarpone, I used Amul paneer which is really the best paneer available.
The complete recipe is available at the Dring Bakers site.
For the filling, I used the given recipe as a sort of guideline and made up my own fillings. I didn’t really measure the quantities of the various ingredients but made up the filling according to our taste. This isn’t a problem as the main ingredient in the filling is the cheese and sugar which one adjusts to taste.
I made my cannolis with three different fillings, two sweet and one savoury. I made the fillings the previous day and refrigerated them. Take them out about half an hour before you need to fill the cannoli so the filling is soft enough to pipe into the shells.
Cardamom flavoured rose and pistachio filling:
Blend crumbled paneer, powdered sugar, a tbsp or so of rose syrup and a bit of cardamom in the blender till very smooth. Chop up pistachio nuts and fold into this. Refrigerate till required.
Go easy with the rose syrup or the flavour can get too strong and the filling too sweet. Also remember that a little less cardamom is always better, as it can make the sweetness of the filling stand out.
Coffee and chocolate filling:
Blend crumbled paneer, powdered sugar, about a tsp of instant coffee powder and vanilla extract in the blender till very smooth. You can add chocolate chips, but I chose to fold in chocolate curls into the creamed paneer. Refrigerate till required.
Savoury onion, carrot and fresh coriander filling:
Blend the crumbled paneer, a little salt, half a tsp of garlic paste, about a tsp of garam masala and some chilli flakes in the blender till smooth. Fold in some very finely chopped red onions, finely grated carrot and chopped coriander leaves. Refrigerate till required.
Some helpful tips to keep in mind while making cannolis:
- Do not wrap the dough circles too tightly around the moulds, or else they will be difficult to slide off the moulds once they have cooled after frying.
- The key to crisp and blistered (this is very desirable and a hallmark of cannoli, I’m told) cannoli shells is to roll out the dough as thin as you can. If the dough is not rolled out thin, you will end up with chewy and rather tasteless shells.
- The other important thing is to ensure your oil is the right temperature. I don’t have a fryer or a kitchen thermometer, but I have a lot of experience (as most Indians would) with deep frying food.
- If your oil isn’t hot enough, the shells will not cook properly and be very greasy. If the oil is too hot you will get burnt shells.
This challenge was an easy one for me to do, for a change. The fillings were easy to make as was the dough. Rolling out the dough, cutting the circles, shaping them and frying them was also easy enough and didn’t take much time.
We liked the cannoli. What’s not to like when something is deep-fried, crisp and filled with creamy, smooth and flavoured paneer? I personally like the contrast of crunch and creamy smoothness of the cannoli.
Would I make them again? I think I definitely will. The savoury cannoli make great appetizers while the sweet ones make a very interesting dessert. I didn’t particularly like the addition of the cocoa powder to the cannoli dough as I felt it didn’t really do anything for the flavour of the cannoli, so I would leave that out next time.
Before you leave here, I would like to remind everyone that my blog is celebrating its second anniversary and I am giving away a copy of Petite Sweets: Bite-Size Dessets To Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth by Beatrice Ojakangas. The giveaway is open till the 30th of this month**, so please do be a part of this and celebrate with me.
aparna, i love the rose cardamom flavoured filling. it probably tastes and gorgeous as it looks. x
Aparna, your cannoli look beautiful! I love what you did with the fillings. Well done on this challenge!
They are beautiful! Would love to try the one with Cardamom flavoured rose and pistachio filling!
Happy Cook says
We had this when we wer ein italy this summer, and I have to say your looks exactly like the one we had.Love the idea of making your own steel moul andyou would be surprised how cheap they are when you make themself than buying the shpe from a kitchen shop.
Asha @ FSK says
Yay! you did savory too.. me too!! :)) lovely!!awesome idea of the curtain rod.. you rock aparna!! :))
I love your flavour combinations. Mmm. 🙂
Cardamom flavoured rose and pistachio filling Coffee and chocolate filling Savoury onion, carrot and fresh coriander filling…I’m stunned how many paneer fillings you made and they look so good and nice to hear that you will be making them again. I especially like the savoury version you did. And as always goregous photographs. Cheers from Audax in Australia.
I just adore your shells and the sweet fillings sound divine. and I just love the idea of a onion, carrot and fresh corainder filling.
Lisa Michelle says
Aparna..I knew you would make his challenge special. Your shells are blistery beauty, and those fillings…OMG – especially the savory carrot onion masala! I was thinking, isn’t Paneer cheese made the same way my shortcut ricotta is made? I’m dying to do a hot variety of peppers ‘paneer’. In any event..thank you so much for deep frying with me this month!!
non seulement les saveurs sont extra mais la présentation est très soignée ! c’est vraiment beau ! bravo 🙂
Very nice! I like your fillings, all of them.
Sure you canand what a wonderful cannolis and great filling beautiful job !!!
Love your choices of fillings. You’re so creative. Your cannoli’s turned out really well too.
Such incredibly beautiful photos- Wow! And that savory filling sounds unbelievable, so creative and unlike any other cannoli I’ve seen.
I love the creative masala flavoured one 🙂 And this seems like the perfect opportunity to get your daughter hooked on cinnamon, heh 🙂
Divya Kudua says
Wow..fillings using Paneer..would love to try the coffee-choc version,not in a Cannoli though:).Great idea of using curtain steel rods..:).Hope you are doing well now:)
Simply gorgeous! I love the flavours you made – Yum!
While I love all your fillings( esp the pink), you really inspire to make this in a savory form. Would be wonderful for a party.
Your fillings are great. Lovely clicks.Liked the rose-cardamom-pistachio more for its looks and flavor
I’m especially excited about the savoury one. What a great idea!
Love the fact that you made your own cannoli forms and tried 3 different fillings. The rose and pistachio particularly appeals to me.
I’ll take one of each! Your flavor combos sound amazing. Lovely work!
They look absolutely wonderful Aparna, you did your challenge very well.
Oh wow! your cannolies look and sound so good! love the flavours! thanks for dropping by.
Those canolis look wonderful aparna….love the pics…
Aparna!!! What a great great post! I just absolutely love it. I think you are so creative – especially the cardamom, rose and pistachio and your savory one! It is just amazing – I love the idea of using paneer!!
I’ve never seen a savory cannoli, but the onion and carrot looks tasty!
Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says
All of your cannoli look amazing. The chocolate and coffee versions sound especially wonderful to me.
Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] says
Wow, that’s quite a few flavors! I would have never thought of making them savory!
Rosa's Yummy Yums says
What stunning cannoli! Both the sweet and savory versions have a unique as well as fantastic flavor! I love your creations!Cheers,Rosa
I am falling in love with your photography skills! WOW! Now, that is one array of flavours! I was unable to do the DB for the last few months with all the shopping and visting families! 🙂
Just your flavor descriptions had me drooling, perfect cannoli!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Ooh a paneer filled cannoli? Absolutely, what’s not to like about that! 🙂
I love all your flavor combinations and the cannoli look so perfect 🙂
Anjana Sivaraman says
Hello Aparna, I have had the sweet cannoli and love them. However my husband is not big on sweets so am really excited to try out the savoury version. Thanks 🙂
Wonderful results! The savory filling sounds delicious. Glad to hear you’ve recovered from the flu.
That sounds like a lot of work, and it sounds v exotic!
Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" says
You did a wonderful job on your cannoli! I love your savory filling…it sounds so delicious.Happy Anniversary Aparna!Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go
U made the mold sounds cool idea! Probably i would love the savory version which is too good. Ur pict are gorgeous 🙂
bake in paris says
Love this paneer filling in your cannoli, so creative and seems easy to mix with either sweet or savoury ingredients. Aha, I have to look for the info of how to make this paneer, so tempting!And yes, congratulations on your blog’s second anniversary!Sawadee from Thailand,Kris
Nice work with the post :)I thought paneer an interesting choice as a replacement for ricotta or mascapone. Probably would even work better for the savoury one that you made too.Love the idea of the cardamom, rose & pistachio flavoured filling! So exotic (at lest for me) 🙂
lata raja says
They look so beautiful, blistered and the filling so temptingly piping out a bit…so creative!
Your cannoli shells look fantastic! Beautiful blistering. Your fillings sound fantastic, especially the coffee chocolate one 😀 Great “baking”
your cannoli shells look perfect, yours is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen..I love the flavor of the filling too! great job! 🙂
My God! The first picture looks absolutely stunning! Love the colour. Rose as a flavour does not work for me but pistas do:)
Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says
I like that you made them sweet and salty. Everyone is coming up with great alternatives to the molds. Very inspiring!
Julia @Mélanger says
What a lovely round up of cannoli that you made. And a savoury version, too?!
Oh wow I can’t decide which of your cannoli I like better! They both look great! And super yummy!I didn’t put the cocoa powder in my cannoli dough when I made them, because I wanted them to be lighter colored.
Clumbsy Cookie says
Look at those perfect cannoli! Perfection girl!!! Wonderful choices for the fillings too!
No!I will never dare to make them but I loved your Rose and Pista cannolis..Beautiful!
Susan from Food Blogga says
I used to make cannoli when I lived at home. They were always reserved for special occasions like b-dyas and anniversaries. Yours look perfect, Aparna! I’m intrigued with your cardamom and pistachio filling as well. What a lovely Indian twist on an Italian classic.
Simply amazing I have tried this before but only with the savory option ,but your blog has persuaded me to try the sweet option.thanks.
Thanks everyone. You push to be daring and bake on!