Yep, you read that right. Sweet Nutella filling oozing from a tangy, crispy fried shell.
Now this is not your traditional Italian cannoli recipe. This is more like frosting in a fried cookie. I have no problem with that.
I wanted to make something special for this month's Movie Night with my girlfriends, and the theme was Italian. I had never even had cannoli before, I didn't really know what it was. But when I stumbled across this recipe for Chestnut Chocolate and Hazelnut Cannoli, I became obsessed. They're so beautiful! Now with my feeble baking skills, I really didn't think I was going to pull that one off. I don't even know what marsala is. So I looked around for the simplest shell recipes, and I will share with you the resulting Frankenrecipe. If you want a more traditional one, go with that link above. I also made a very different filling that didn't even include ricotta, which is pretty much the main ingredient. I tried it both ways, and the ricotta just wasn't doing it. Of course I could have been doing it completely wrong, so experiment away!
Now there are two things you need to know before you start making cannolis. First, you're going to need something on which to wrap the shells while you fry them. You can buy stainless steel tubes at kitchen specialty stores, they look like this:
Dads are awesome.
If you want to skip the whole dowel-chopping, dough-making, and shell-frying fiasco, I've heard you can buy the shells at the grocery store. But if you relish the thought of
Another thing, if you are going to make a traditional filling with ricotta cheese, you need to drain it for like two days ahead of time. I didn't have a strainer, so I made this apparatus:
On to the recipes.....
- 4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup vinegar
Set up your frying pot before you begin making the dough so that the oil can heat. Pour a few inches of oil (I used vegetable oil) into a medium-sized pot or saucepan. Heat on medium low. You'll know it's ready when a few drops of water sizzle and bubble in the oil. Get your cannoli forms ready by using oil or shortening to grease them up a little so that the shells will slide off easily. Set aside a small dish with one egg white to use for sealing the dough before frying.
Cut the shortening into the vinegar, then mix in the sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, stir the egg whites into the vinegar, then add to the dry ingredients. Work the dough with your hands until... Well, until it looks like dough I guess!
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about 1/8" thickness. Cut out circles with a drinking glass. Roll each circle out a little thinner into an oval shape. I recommend cutting and rolling one batch at a time (about three or four depending on the size of your frying pot.) Otherwise, they'll shrink back up a little by the time you get around to frying all of them.
Pick up a circle, hold it with two fingers, and flop it around a bit so that the dough rounds out a little on one of the long sides. This little extra length is what you'll use to secure it closed.
Now you can make the shells in two shapes- long or short, basically. The first time, I rolled the ovals around the forms the short way, and they turned out mini and way too thick. Then I rolled them onto the forms the tall way, and they turned out much prettier, I thought. If you want to make the short ones, I suggest rolling the dough thinner or using a smaller glass to cut them out.
Anyway, whichever size you decide to make, lay the oval on the table and begin rolling the dough onto the form from the flatter side. When you reach the pointy part, apply a dab of egg white to the underside and press it into the flatter end to make a seal.
If your oil is hot enough, carefully drop the tubes with dough into the pot. Now here's where my years in a bakery paid off- You'll notice that the dough automatically wants to roll around to one side and stay there. No matter how much you flip it, the darn thing keeps rolling back and you have no choice but to stand there for ten minutes corralling all the tubes to the right sides so that they cook evenly all around. I did that for like two hours. Then I had a genius idea:
My colander was the perfect size to sit on the top of the pot. It submerged the forms without squashing them, letting them cook evenly all around so that you can go about your business. Unfortunately, I thought of this brilliant plan on my very last batch.
Here's how I got them out of the pot- with two wooden spoons. Is this the professional way? Is this safe? Use your own judgement here.
Anyway, keep cutting, forming, and frying the dough until you get really sick of it and give up. Or until you use it all up, bless your heart. I got about two dozen done before I chucked the rest of the dough because I was too tired to finish hehe. So this recipe will probably make close to forty shells.
When the shells cool, you can make them pretty. Or do what I did, and make a disaster:
For the dip, I guess you'd call it ganache, heat a cup of heavy cream in a saucepan just until it starts to simmer. Take it off the burner and stir in two cups of chocolate chips and anything else you want in there for the garnish. Like... hazelnuts or something, I dunno.
Nutella Cannoli Filling:
- small jar of Nutella
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- powdered sugar
- two 8oz blocks of cream cheese
Soften the cream cheese in the microwave, or leave it out way ahead of time to soften the right way if you're a smarty pants like that. Toss it into the mixer with the cocoa, Nutella, and a splash of Kahlua. Add powdered sugar until it's a consistency that will be good for piping. Sorry, I have no idea how much powdered sugar I used. About a quarter of the bag, which really tells us nothing because I don't remember what size the bag was. Don't worry though, you got this.
Now use the big stabby-looking pastry tip to pipe the filling into the shells, or use a ziploc bag with the corner cut off. Whatever. It's going to taste the same either way.
I've read that you should put the filling in immediately before you serve the cannolis, or the shells will get soggy. Probably if you made the nice Italian shells, that would be true. But trust me, these babies were still crunchtastic at the end of the night.
I like this recipe because you can really get creative with the filling flavors. I made a few of these for my dad with peanut butter in the mix, and they were sooooo good. Next time I want to try amaretto with some chopped cherries!