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Cannoli Cake – tender vanilla cake layers with a creamy, sweet chocolate chip ricotta filling and vanilla buttercream.
With Christmas around the corner, I have holiday desserts on my mind nonstop. One of the Christmas desserts I grew up having was cannolis. As I mentioned in my last post, Homemade Cannolis, our neighbors used to bring us homemade cannolis every Christmas. It’s why Christmastime is really the only time I think of this traditional Sicilian pastry.
As I was planning cakes for this Christmas, a Cannoli Cake was at the top of the list. Not only does it remind me of our good friends and neighbors, but a dear friend of mine has been requesting this cake since the day I met her! So, Rosie, this recipe is dedicated to you and the Fadales!
How to Make the Cake Layers
For the cake layers, I’m using my Classic Vanilla Cake and adding a little hint of cinnamon. I love how tender, moist and flavorful these layers are.
Tips for Great Cake Layers
- Preheat your oven for about 30 minutes before you bake.
- Use good quality pans like THESE FAT DADDIO pans.
- Make sure to beat your butter and sugar on medium-high for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients. Use a low speed.
- Use room temperature ingredients. This is a big one for the success of the cake rising well.
- Make sure your baking powder is fresh – not older than 6 months.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make the Cake
- Egg whites
- Cake flour
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
- Granulated sugar
- Sour cream
Thick Cake Layers
If you’d like thicker cake layers than what you see in my pictures, you can double the recipe. Just make sure you watch the bake time. It will be about 15 to 20 minutes longer than the recommended time in my recipe.
How to Make Cannoli Filling
For the filling, I went a little untraditional. Instead of only using ricotta and sugar, I’ve actually added some cream cheese and folded in stabilized whipped cream. I wanted to make sure this filling was stable enough for the cake, so I made it slightly more dense than what you might be used to from a traditional cannoli.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make the Filling
- Whole milk ricotta
- Cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Mini chocolate chips
- Whipping cream
- EZ Gel
If you want to make your own ricotta (which is SUPER easy), head over to my blog post for my Ricotta Beet Cake and check out the recipe and instructions. WARNING: once you make homemade ricotta, you’ll never go back to store bought!
How to Make the Buttercream
The buttercream for this cake is super simple. You’ll be using my Vanilla Buttercream.
Tips for the Best Buttercream:
- Use slightly cold butter.
- Beat the butter on its own for a few minutes.
- Sift your powdered sugar.
- Use heavy whipping cream.
- Mix the buttercream by hand with a spatula or large spoon before applying it on your cake (this pushes out air!).
Ingredients You’ll Need for the Buttercream
- Unsalted butter
- Heavy cream
- Powdered sugar
How to Make Mini Chocolate Chip Stripes
For the stripes on the outside of the cake, you’ll need:
- Parchment paper cut into 1 inch strips
- Mini chocolate chips
After you’ve placed your chocolate chips onto the cake, freeze the cake for about 15 minutes. Once the cake is frozen, you’ll then gently peel off the parchment paper to reveal buttercream.
How to Make Homemade Cannolis
For the decorations, I made homemade cannolis. You can get the recipe and learn how to make homemade cannolis HERE.
Christmas Dessert Ideas
Looking for More Christmas Dessert Ideas? Check out these recipes:
- Lemon Gingerbread Cake
- White Chocolate Cranberry Cake
- White Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Cake
- Chocolate Peppermint Cake
- Santa’s Milk and Cookie Cake
Tender vanilla cake layers, chocolate chip ricotta filling and vanilla buttercream.
- Electric or hand mixer
- Three 8"x2" cake pans
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Turn table
- Icing spatulas
- Cake scraper
- Parchment paper
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- 6 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 tbsp. (13 g) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream at room temperature
- 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
- 1 tbsp. (10 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp. (5 g) salt
- 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk at room temperature
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slighly cold
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
- 2 tsp. (8 g) vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (57 g) heavy cream cold
- pinch of salt
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.
FOR THE FILLING
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup (250 g) ricotta, homemade or store bought *see notes about draining ricotta*
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (231 g) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp EZ Gel I use THIS brand
- 1/2 tsp (1.3 g) ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (43.25 g) mini chocolate chips
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder,cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for two minutes on medium-high speed. The mixture should be light in color and texture.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg whites on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between addition. Once all the egg whites are added, continue mixing on medium-high speed for about two minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
- Combine the sour cream and buttermilk. Set aside.
- With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ cup of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat the additions, ⅓ cup flour mixture, ½ cup buttermilk and the final ⅓ cup flour mixture. Only mix until the flour mixture is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for another 20 to 30 seconds on low.
- Pour about 18 ounces of cake batter into each of the three 8-inch cake pans or 13 ounces in each of the 6-inch pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Tip: spray your wire cooling racks with nonstick spray).
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy and pale in color.
- With the mixer on slow, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the heavy cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt.
- Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a couple minutes more.
- Before using the buttercream, make sure to beat it by hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula to help push out the air pockets.
FOR THE FILLING
- In a small metal bowl that’s been frozen for ten minutes, beat the cream on high speed, while gradually adding the EZ Gel, until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine the drained ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and beat until well combined.
- Fold in the heavy cream to the ricotta mixture.
- Gently stir in the ¼ cup chocolate chips.
- Filling can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Place the first cake layer top side up, in the center of the cake board. Gently spread about 1 cup of the filling over the cake layer. Remember to get eye level with the cake to make sure you spread the filling evenly.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream. Evenly spread another 1 cup of the filling over the cake.
- Place the final cake layer top side down on the filling.
- Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. This is your crumb coat that helps to lock in your crumbs.
- Once the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream.
- To apply mini chocolate chips to the side of your cake, refer to the tutorial above.
*Two to three days before you plan to make your filling, place the ricotta in a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to drain as much liquid out as possible. If the ricotta hasn’t drained much, spread it onto thick paper towels and then press down on the ricotta with more paper towels to soak up a little more of the liquid.