Homemade Cannolis – this crispy and flakey pastry shell, filled with a creamy, sweet ricotta filling is the perfect holiday dessert to share with your family and loved ones this season!
Have you heard of Christmas Cannolis? That’s ok! I don’t think most people have! Normally, cannolis are served and are delicious all year long. However, I call them Christmas Cannolis because that’s the time of year we’ve enjoyed this yummy dessert.
Growing up, we moved around a lot. When we lived in Southern California in the early 90’s, our neighbors and good friends were the Fadales. The dad, Mike, was Italian and every year at Christmastime he brought us his homemade cannolis. I don’t remember anything like them! They were the most delicious pastry I had ever had and there wasn’t a Christmas that went by while we lived there that we didn’t get a special delivery from Mike with a plate of cannolis.
I had no idea, until trying to make my own cannolis, what a labor of love this delicious pastry is to make. I just love how baking can be a way of showing love to others! And Mike was definitely telling us Carlstons that he loved us A LOT!
While homemade cannolis definitely take some time and patience, they’re actually quite easy to make once you get the hang of it.
Traditional Sicilian cannolis are made by rolling out a pie-crust-like dough very thinly, wrapping 4′ round dough circles around a metal rod, and frying to crispy perfection. Once cooled, cannolis are then filled with a ricotta filling.
Tips for Cannoli Shell Success
- Use a white wine: the wine not only adds flavor, but also acidity, which helps to soften the gluten and create a crisp shell that’s not tough.
- If you substitute white wine for cooking wine or white grape juice, be sure to add a tablespoon of white vinegar. You’ll want the acidity from the vinegar to help relax the gluten like the wine does.
- After making the dough, let the dough rest to relax the gluten – about 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Roll the dough on a very well-floured surface so you can roll the dough very thinly without it sticking to your counter. The dough should almost be construction paper thin.
- Spray your cannoli rods with nonstick spray.
- Place a candy thermometer on your pot and in your oil to ensure your oil stays at 375 degrees F.
- Brush the ends of the dough with the egg white to seal the dough as you wrap it around the cannoli rod.
- Use tongs to place the cannoli in the oil and to take it out.
- Let the cannoli shells drain excess oil on paper towels and then cool completely before adding the filling.
- You can store your cannoli shells in a airtight container in the freezer until you’re ready to use.
Ingredients Needed to Make Cannoli Shells
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Marsala wine, or cooking wine or white grape juice
- Whole egg
- Egg white
- Vegetable oil
Traditional cannoli filling is made with whole milk ricotta, a little sugar, mini chocolate chips, cinnamon and sometimes additional flavorings like orange zest or pistachios.
I’m straying from the traditional recipe just a little to make one that is more stable and can be used in my Cannoli Cake, as well. You’ll notice I’m adding some cream cheese and stabilized whipped cream to my filling. Having the filling just a tad thicker makes it plenty easy to pipe the cannolis, eat the cannolis, and make your Cannoli Cake.
If you want a more traditional cannoli filling, I recommend leaving out the cream cheese and splitting the whipping cream amount in half.
Ingredients Needed to Make Cannoli Filling
- Whole milk ricotta
- Cream cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Mini chocolate chips
- Whipping cream
- EZ Gel
You can also add additional flavors like orange zest or lemon zest to your filling. I also love the look of pistachios on the ends of cannolis too. The green from the pistachios will make these the perfect Christmas dessert.
Homemade Cannoli Hack
If you want to make homemade cannolis but need to save a little time or don’t want to use oil for frying, you can actually use premade pastry/pie dough and your airfryer!
You’ll still roll your dough very thinly, cut it with a 4-inch cookie cutter and wrap it around your cannoli rods. When you’re ready to cook the cannoli shells, place them in your airfryer (with the rack sprayed with cooking spray) at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool and then fill with your ricotta filling.