Indulge in the delightful flavours of Sicily with this classic cannoli recipe! These irresistible pastries feature a crispy, delicate shell filled with a luscious, sweet ricotta filling, studded with chocolate chips and candied fruits. Perfect for special occasions or a weekend treat, these homemade cannoli will transport you to the beautiful island of Sicily.
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
My mum absolutely adored Sicilian Cannoli—it was her go-to dessert for both making and indulging in. And honestly, who could resist that heavenly combination of a crispy shell filled with sweet, smooth ricotta and chocolate chips? It’s like a taste of paradise!
Growing up, I always looked forward to any celebration—lunches, dinners, birthdays, Easter, Christmas, you name it! That’s because mum would whip up her famous Sicilian cannoli for us to enjoy. I have such fond memories of savouring every last bite of that scrumptious treat.
If you’ve only ever tried store-bought Sicilian cannoli or used pre-made shells, I can’t recommend enough that you give homemade cannoli a try. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like the divine taste of a freshly made, crispy cannoli shell.
- Moscato di Siracusa
- Marsala Vergine Semisecco
- Moscato di Pantelleria
- Passito di Noto
- Marsala Riserva Heritage
Cannoli, a beloved Sicilian dessert, has an incredibly rich history dating back to the times of the Arabs and Romans. Throughout the years, fascinating stories and legends have shaped its image and unique characteristics. Did you know that the word “cannolo” comes from the river cane that was once used to give the dough its classic cylindrical shape?
Now, let’s talk about the origin of this delectable treat. Most people believe that Sicilian cannoli were first made during the Arab rule in Sicily, in an area known as Qal’at al-Nissa (now Caltanissetta) which translates to “Castle of women”. And it’s women who play a central role in the tales that surround the creation of this dessert.
You see, there are two main legends – one sacred and one profane. The sacred version tells of nuns in a convent in Caltanissetta who, during Carnival, would lovingly prepare sweets filled with ricotta and chopped almonds, adorned with tempting chocolate bits.
However, another older legend takes us back to the time of Arab rule. The story goes that cannoli were actually created within the walls of the harem inside the Castle of Caltanissetta, where the Emir lived with his concubines. In an effort to please the Emir, the Arab women would invent new recipes and prepare mouth-watering dishes and desserts. It’s even said that they took inspiration from an ancient Roman recipe, tweaking it to give the cannoli its distinct phallic shape.
When enjoying this Sicilian cannoli recipe, keep in mind that it’s a high-calorie dessert with a significant amount of sugar and fat. While it’s perfect for an occasional treat, moderation is key.
- Proteins 7% 7%
- Carbs 29% 29%
- Fats 64% 64%
Lard or Butter
Sicilian cannoli have a tradition of being made with lard. I get it—it might not be the healthiest option, but it does lend a unique flavour to the dessert. However, if using lard isn’t up your alley or you’re looking for a vegetarian alternative, butter is a great substitute.
Just be sure to let the butter (or lard) soften to room temperature before using it. That way, it’ll blend seamlessly into the dough, making your cannoli-making experience a breeze.
Wine is an essential ingredient for achieving that crispy, delightful cannoli shell we all crave. Along with lard (or butter) and vinegar, it contributes to forming those scrumptious crispy bubbles that make Sicilian cannoli truly special. Traditionally, Marsala wine is the go-to choice, adding a tasty depth to the dough.
But don’t worry if you don’t have Marsala on hand—a dry white wine will do the trick just fine
I know it might seem odd to add vinegar to pastry dough, but believe me, it’s a game-changer! That little splash of vinegar is the secret to creating all those delightful, crunchy bubbles we adore in a perfect cannoli shell. And no need to fret about the taste—it won’t affect the flavour at all!
Just make sure to use white wine vinegar, as it has a milder taste compared to other vinegars.
I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to make sure your ricotta is well-drained. This is particularly true for those of us living outside Italy, as the ricotta we find here can be quite soft and watery. Trust me, if you skip this step, you’ll end up with a runny filling that won’t stay put in your cannoli.
Here’s what to do: place the ricotta in a cheesecloth or muslin and let it drain over the sink for at least 2 hours. Once it’s perfectly drained, you’ll be all set to start whipping up that luscious filling.
Adding just a pinch of salt can really elevate the flavour of your cannoli shells. You don’t need a lot—half a teaspoon is all it takes to make a difference. But here’s a little tip: if you’re using salted butter, there’s no need to add any extra salt. Your shells will already have that perfect balance of flavour.
Candied Fruits and Chocolate
To create an authentic ricotta filling for your cannoli, it’s essential to add chocolate drops and candied fruits. For the chocolate drops, choose at least 70% dark chocolate—it’ll provide a lovely contrast to the sweet, creamy ricotta. Traditional candied fruits include orange, citron, and pumpkin peels, as well as cherries.
But hey, if you’re having trouble finding candied fruits or you’re just not a fan (I personally don’t care for them), feel free to leave them out. When it comes to decorating your cannoli, you’ve got options! Candied fruits, chopped pistachios, hazelnuts, or even cocoa curls all make for eye-catching and tasty garnishes. Have fun experimenting and making your cannoli truly your own!
- Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Yield: 24 cannoli 1x
- Diet: Vegetarian
Make delicious Sicilian cannoli featuring crisp shells filled with luscious ricotta cream, chocolate drops, and candied fruits—a classic Italian delight!
- 300 g white spelt flour
- 25 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon
- 30 g butter (or lard) at room temperature
- 50 grams of sugar
- 200 ml white wine (or, even better, Marsala)
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- A pinch of salt
- 800 g ricotta cheese, drained
- 300 g sugar
- 60 g chocolate chips
- Candied fruit to taste (orange, citron, and pumpkin) – optional
- 1 litre of seed oil
- Candied fruit (cherries and orange peels)
- Chocolate chips
- Finely chopped pistachios
- Icing sugar
For this recipe, you’ll first prepare the dough for the shells, followed by the ricotta filling. Finally, you’ll assemble and serve the cannoli.
Prepare the dough:
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, a pinch of salt, sugar, cinnamon, and the softened butter or lard.
Gradually add the white wine and the vinegar, mixing the dough with your hands. Adjust the amount of liquid as needed to achieve a soft, moldable dough with a somewhat firm consistency.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface, shape it into a ball, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
Prepare the ricotta filling:
In a separate bowl, combine the sieved ricotta and sugar, mixing until smooth.
Stir in the chocolate chips, and candied fruit pieces if desired.
Cover the filling with plastic wrap and refrigerate to cool.
Shape and fry the shells:
Roll out the dough to a thin sheet (about 1mm thick) on a lightly floured surface.
Use a 9 cm diameter cookie cutter to cut circles from the dough. Stretch each circle into an oval and wrap it around a cannoli mould, sealing the edge with a little egg white or beaten yolk.
Heat seed oil to 170-180°C (338-356°F) in a deep frying pan or pot. d. Fry the shells in the oil for 1-2 minutes, working in small batches to maintain the oil temperature.
Drain the cooked shells on paper towels to absorb excess oil, then let them cool before removing the moulds.
Assemble the cannoli:
Transfer the ricotta filling to a pastry bag and pipe it into the cooled shells, filling them completely.
Decorate each end of the cannoli with candied fruit (half a cherry or an orange peel), chocolate curls, or chopped pistachios.
If not serving immediately, wait to fill the shells to preserve their crispiness.
Before serving, dust the cannoli with a sprinkling of icing sugar.
Ensure you drain the ricotta for at least 2 hours before making the cream.
Fill cannoli just before serving to keep the shells crisp.
For a “travel cannoli” version, coat the shell’s interior with melted chocolate and let it set, forming a barrier to prevent sogginess.
Let the cannoli shells cool completely before filling to avoid melting the ricotta and creating a mess.
Traditional cannoli use ricotta cream, but feel free to explore variations like chocolate, pistachio, or custard. Have fun experimenting!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Rest Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Desserts
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: ricotta, chocolate, cocoa, marsala, crispy dessert, Sicilian cuisine, candied fruits, chocolate drops