Before I start churning out holiday recipes here on the blog, I wanted to share these adorable and super delicious mini cannolis. I ordered metal cannoli forms months ago with plans on making cannolis, but only recently got around to it for an Italian themed dinner party. Cannolis can involve a potentially finicky dough, frying in hot oil, buying expensive cheese, and a certain finesse with the technique – so you can understand why I put these off for some time. But my friends were aggressively demanding cannolis for this party, so I did my best to pull through. I ended up being very proud of the result and my Italian friend even said it was the best cannoli he’d ever eaten. And just look how cute they are too!
I chose to do mini cannolis because I was trying to feed 25 people and wanted to make sure everyone got a bite. Plus, everything tastes better mini, right!? And since I only had 4 cannoli forms, I was able to fit 2 mini cannolis on each form and fry more at once.. The dough came together just fine, but I basically wore my hands raw trying to roll it out super thin with a wooden roller. Using a pasta maker attachment for your mixer is the best way to thin out the dough, but since I don’t have one I resorted to my muscles and took a day off the gym. Besides rolling out the dough, the rest of the process was fairly simple – cutting out circles, wrapping and sealing them around the forms, frying them, dipping them in chocolate, and filling them right before the party. So although I was intimidated by the thought of making cannolis from scratch, I was able to do it all in 2 weeknights without any major problems (or hot oil burns), and you can too!
I spent quite a while researching different recipes and techniques for cannolis, and came up with a combination of ideas that seemed the most appealing to me. I love mascarpone cheese, so I used a combination of ricotta and mascarpone for the filling, but you could use just ricotta if you want to be more traditional. I also upped the amount of cinnamon in the filling because I love it, and it ended up being one of my friends’ favorite things about the cannolis. I apologize to any Italians that are offended by these modifications, but I promise they were very delicious! I was a little disappointed my cannoli shells didn’t have any of those bubbles on the surface, but I don’t think anyone noticed…
Mini Cinnamon Cannolis
Yield: 25 mini cannolis, or 12 full sized
for the shells:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 egg white
Vegetable oil for frying
for the filling:
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, drained overnight and squeezed dry
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Melted chocolate chips for dipped ends
For the shells, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
Cut the dough into 2 pieces and keep half of the dough covered while you work. On a floured counter, roll the dough super think – about 1/16 to 1/8″ thick (an area of about 13″x18″). Cut out circles with a cutter or glass (depending on what size you want your cannolis) and distort the shape a little to make ovals.
Oil the outside of the cannoli forms and wrap the ovals of dough around the forms, sealing the edges with the egg white.
In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3″. Heat the oil to 375 degrees and have a tray lined with paper towels ready to go.
Carefully lower a few of the cannoli forms into the hot oil (do not crowd the pan). Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes ,turning them so they brown evenly.
Lift the cannoli form with a set of tongs or a slotted spoon and allow excess oil to drip down before transferring to a the tray.
Repeat with remaining dough and if you’re reusing the cannoli forms, I ran them under cold water in a collinder so they were cool enough to handle again
You can store the shells in an airtight container for a up to a few days before filling (you want to fill them right before you serve them so the shells don’t get soggy!)
Melt chocolate in a deep dish and dip ends of shells. Place on a parchment paper-lined tray until ready to fill.
For the filling, cream together the ricotta, mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Fit a pastry bag with a medium-sized star tip and fill cannoli forms as desired.