Cannoli Cake with the Most Delicious Chocolate Chip Ricotta Filling

December 7, 2020

Cannoli Cake – tender vanilla cake layers with a creamy, sweet chocolate chip ricotta filling and vanilla buttercream.

Cannoli Cake on a cake stand with cannolis on top.

Cannoli Cake

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.
Woman filling a cake using an offset icing spatula.

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make the Cake

  • Butter
  • Buttermilk
  • Cinnamon
  • Egg whites
  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar
  • Sour cream
  • Salt

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.

Woman decorating a cake with an offset icing spatula.

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make the Filling

  • Whole milk ricotta
  • Cream cheese
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Whipping cream
  • EZ Gel
  • Cinnamon
Slice of cake on a plate with a cannoli.

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!).
Woman using a cake scraper to smooth the sides of a cake.

Ingredients You’ll Need for the Buttercream

  • Unsalted butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla

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.

Delicious white cake layers with a hint of cinnamon, a creamy sweet ricotta filling with chocolate chips and vanilla buttercream. #cannoicake #cannolirecipe #homemadecannoli #christmascake #christmasdessert #holidaydessert #christmasdessertideas #christmascakeideas #cakebycourtney

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:

Delicious white cake layers with a hint of cinnamon, a creamy sweet ricotta filling with chocolate chips and vanilla buttercream. #cannoicake #cannolirecipe #homemadecannoli #christmascake #christmasdessert #holidaydessert #christmasdessertideas #christmascakeideas #cakebycourtney

Cannoli Cake

5 from 23 votes
Tender vanilla cake layers, chocolate chip ricotta filling and vanilla buttercream.
Servings 20 people


  • Electric or hand mixer
  • Three 8"x2" cake pans
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Turn table
  • Icing spatulas
  • Cake scraper
  • Parchment paper



  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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



  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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. 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Cannoli, Cannoli Cake, Christmas Cake, Vanilla CAke

Join the Conversation

  1. I’m not familiar with EZ gel…Can it be ommited? Can I use something else?
    Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful cakes and the recipes for us to make..thank u

    1. You can leave it out or you can use gelatin.

  2. 5 stars

    Happy Holidays!!

    I’m so excited to try this recipe however I don’t have ez gel. Could I use cornstarch in it’s place?

    1. You can use gelatin!

      1. Do you put the gelatin powder as is to the filling or do you need to dissolve first as per usual?

        1. As is! You just sprinkle it in.

  3. Hi, in the description you said you added a hint of cinnamon into your vanilla cake batter but I don’t see it in the recipe. How much should be added? I tend to be a little heavy handed with my “hint”.

    1. I’ll add it in! A tsp!

  4. Hi Courtney! For the ricotta do you recommend measuring it before straining or after? I’m not sure how much of a difference it’ll make, but I figured I would ask before I made this cake!

    1. So I read in the comments, he said you could use gelatin instead of the EZ gel, Is it the same measurement of gelatin to EZ gel or is it any different?

  5. Trying this recipe for a family friend this weekend. How far in advance do you recommend making this cake? I want to make sure it’s still fresh. Can you freeze this recipe like your other ones since it has the ricotta cheese filling?

    1. You can freeze it!

  6. I’m baking this cake for a NYE party! Should the cream cheese be softened before combining with the ricotta, sugar, and other ingredients?

  7. Courtney Morgan says:

    5 stars
    When adding the sour cream/buttermilk mixture do you only ultimately add 1 cup or do you mean half the mixture each time ?

    1. Half the mixture each time.

  8. Kylie Kimbal says:

    Hi! If I was to double the recipe for thicker cake layers, should I use 8×3 in. round pans? Or still the normal 8×2?

    1. I’ve doubled recipes and used my 2″ tall pans and haven’t had a issue when them spilling over.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this cake to celebrate my co-workers January Birthdays. It turned out and tasted great!!!

    1. So happy to hear you loved it!

  10. How far in advance do you recommend making the cake?

    1. As close as you can to serving it. Because of the filling.

  11. Erika Rose says:

    same amount of gelatin as ez gel?


    1. No, you’ll first want to bloom the gelatin according to the package. I believe it’s about 2 teaspoons.

  12. Hey I am about to try this but don’t have 8 inch pans. Have you tried with 6 or 9 inches? 😂? If so how long have you baked?

    1. Yes you can do 4 6-inch pans. Cook time should about the same!

  13. Hello I’m confused about the assembly directions. It says put filling on then it says put the 2nd layer over the buttercream. Is there buttercream over the filling? Ty

    1. Courtney Flowers says:

      I had the same question. I think the buttercream is a typo but hoping I’m right because I don’t see an answer to this question in the comments!

  14. Hi! Looking through the comments re: replacing ez gel with gelatin. I saw conflicting suggestions, so wanted to clarify. In one reply you said to sprinkle the gelatin in as is, and in another you said to bloom it according to the package directions and use 2 tsp. Can you give a little more direction here, and if you know the process for blooming the correct amount of gelatin? Thank you! Looking forward to this cake!

    1. When using the gelatin, I like to use one packet and then follow these instructions from my Strawberry Shortcake recipe: In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin (you’ll use 1 tbsp). Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup heavy cream to a simmer and then stir in the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 5-7 minutes.

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