Posts tagged ‘etna’

January 1, 2009

Cannoli Shells


It doesn’t get much more authentic Sicilian than cannoli, which is often confused with being an Italian pastry, but make no mistake, this is Sicilian, specifically in the northern area near Palermo.  My family and I lived just north of Catania, but I remember there was this bar (which is more like a cafe in the US, not a drinking spot) at the base of Etna that we would pass all the time going home and once in a while, Daddy would pull in there and I could go pick out my own cannolo.  And an orange soda, but I had to down both fast before we got home because my mom didn’t approve.

In order to make cannoli shells, you MUST have a cannoli form.  No questions about it.  If you don’t already have a set, please read on before you buy.  Cannoli forms are simply metal tubes that look a lot like windchimes.  You want forms though that have a slightly raised edge at the seam and give a bit.  This is absolutely critical when you go to release the shell.

If you do not want to make the shells, most bakeries carry horns, which will work.  If you have a speciality shop in your area, you may be able to find premade shells in the cookie section.


3/4 cup flour, sifted

1/8 cup butter

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon Marsala *

1 egg white, stirred briskly

1 egg white, unstirred

* If you do not want to use wine in your recipe, you can substitute with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon brandy or rum flavouring.  And as always, if you wouldn’t drink it in a glass, don’t cook with it – this calls for Marsala wine, not cooking wine!

  • Heat fryer to 350 F, or fill a heavy saucepan 4 inches deep with vegetable oil over medium heat to 350 F*
  • In a large mixing bowl, dump flour and butter and cut with a case knife until blended.
  • Add in remaining ingredients EXCEPT UNSTIRRED EGG WHITE and cut with knife until well blended.
  • On a floured surface, knead the dough thoroughly.
  • Tighten into a ball and cover with cheesecloth for an hour.
  • Roll out thinly with rolling pin on floured surface.
  • Continue rolling until dough is about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Use either 4″ diameter cookie cutter, or cut around a 4″ diameter bowl to make 6 round circles.
  • Spray form with an aerosol cooking spray or lightly butter with fingertips.
  • Lay one edge of circle at edge of form, roll form slowly until ends meet.
  • Using fingertips, seal with unstirred egg white.
  • Promptly lower form into prepared frying oil.
  • Lift form from oil with metal strainer or tongs once form rolls and cannolo shell is a golden tan.
  • Lay out on paper towels until form is cool to touch.
  • Press on seam and gently guide cannolo shell off of form.
  • Using a sifter or tea strainer, you can top with sifted powdered sugar.
  • You can also melt chocolate flavoured almond bark and use the back of a spoon to ‘paint’ chocolate onto the insides of the shells.
  • Melted chocolate flavoured almond bark can also be drizzled over the top of the shells.

*Use a candy thermometer to test temperature, or throw in a piece of unused dough to test temperature.  When the dough turns and rises, oil is ready.