Holiday Recipe: Baked Cannoli Cups


A Family Recipe submitted by Antonella of the Bonesse Family in Connecticut.

Cannoli cups (a simplified version of the traditional Sicilian cannoli) from Antonella Bonesse, author of Cucina Per Te.  Read below as Antonella shares her recipe and its story.

Being raised in Italy as a child, I must admit I get terrible nostalgia for the Italian desserts and pastries. There is just something about Italian desserts that make them memorable and hard to surpass. No holiday ever went by during my childhood in Italy without visiting a pastry shop or having family bring over a tray for the special occasion. Eating pastries after a hearty meal was surely a sacred event in our home.

When it comes to desserts, Italy sure has quite some variety. With the sweet indulgent desserts of the south, and the creamy sophisticated pastries of the north, it seems like there is no escape from indulging in a mouthwatering adventure.

My favorite, of course, is the Sicilian cannoli. I cannot resist them. Not only are these pastries delicious, but I remember being a child and marveling at the beautiful pastry shop window displays. Beautiful is an understatement. If you ever decide to visit Italy, make sure to visit a pasticceria!

Since I love Sicilian cannoli, I decided to simplify the recipe (omit the frying all together) and make them into cannoli cups…

Who taught you this recipe?

My mom taught me how to make Sicilian cannoli; however, one year I wanted to make them and didn’t have any rollers. So, I played around with the recipe and came up with cannoli cups.

How long has this recipe been passed through your family?

Regular cannolis have been in my family for over 3 generations.

When do you like to cook this dish? 

I make regular cannolis often. Weekly actually. I have my own set of clients who order them from me all the time. Some of them even refer to me as the cannoli queen. Cannoli cups I make for holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, any occasion.

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Antonella’s sister Rose with their father (holding his handmade bamboo rollers)

What is your favorite memory of cooking this dish?

I would have to say it is more about how I make them than a specific memory. See, to make regular cannolis you need rollers. Years ago I complained to my Dad about how I hate metal rollers because I often would get burned. My dad ended up sending me rollers he made himself from dried bamboo that he actually has on his land in Italy. My dad explained to me that’s how they used to make cannoli shells back in the day. I feel a great pride and connection with my family when I make cannolis using my bamboo rollers.

Ingredients:

For the cannoli cups –
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick very cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling –
  • 1 container (15 oz) whole-milk ricotta cheese at room temperature (or two 8oz containers of cream cheese)
  • 1 cup ( or more) powered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest ( or vanilla)
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Preparation:

To make the cannoli cups, prepare a pie dough –
  • Mix 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium-size bowl.
  • Cut 1 stick chilled unsalted butter into pieces.
  • With a mixer, cut in butter, working until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons ice water; work with hands until dough comes together. If dough is still crumbly, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time (up to 4 more tablespoons). Do not overwork.
  • Wrap in plastic; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
To make the filling –
  • In a large bowl, beat all filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until creamy.
  • Place filling in 1-gallon food-storage plastic bag; refrigerate for at-least a half hour.

Cooking Instructions:

  • Preheat oven 425°F.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pie dough with a rolling pin.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and granulated sugar to then press into dough with a rolling pin. Dough should be about 1/2 an inch in thickness.
  • With a 3-inch round cutter, cut out pastry rounds. Lightly press each pastry round into a muffin cup.
  • Bake about 10 minutes or until pastry cups are golden brown.
  • Cool completely in pans, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, remove the filling from refrigerator. Cut bottom corner off bag; pipe a tablespoon worth of filling (or more) into each cup. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and serve. Store any remaining pastry cup at room temperature and filling in the refrigerator.

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You can purchase Antonella’s cookbook, Cucina Per Te, at Amazon and Blurb.

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