I actually made my Daring Bakers challenge early this month, woot! Marvin informed me that we were going to a dinner party a couple weeks ago and volunteered me to bring a dessert, so I figured it was as good an excuse as any to roll up my sleeves and get frying.
I was a little skeptical about frying anything in my tiny kitchen without the aid of a deep fryer, but it turned out pretty much ok. I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven, which was deep enough to avoid any splattering. The only collateral damage was a lingering fast-food grease smell that permeated the house for several days after! I used pasta tubes for the cannoli forms, which was a little challenging but not impossible.
The cannoli were not difficult to make, but they were time-consuming. Thankfully I had a pasta rolling machine, which greatly helped in rolling the dough to the proper thickness- I can’t imagine if I’d had to roll it out by hand, yikes. The dough actually behaved very similarly to pasta dough and the machine worked very well at getting it to a workable consistency. I hit a little bit of a speed bump when I went to make the dough- it was Sunday morning, I didn’t have any wine in the house, and you can’t buy alcohol until noon. I didn’t have time to wait, so I poked around the pantry until I came across some Chinese cooking wine. I sniffed it… it smelled close enough to Marsala, so into the dough it went.
For filling my cannoli, I bought ricotta but also bought some whipping cream which I whipped and folded into the ricotta. It wasn’t traditional, of course, but it gave a wonderful light texture to the filling. I divided my filling into two bowls and flavored one batch with about ¼ cup pumpkin butter from Trader Joe’s. The other half of the filling was inspired by Turkish flavors; I used sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and a little orange flower water. The pumpkin-filled cannoli got pecans on the ends, and the ”Turkish delight” cannoli got pistachios and apricots.
I doubt that cannoli would be something I’d attempt again at home, not just because of the frying but because they ended up being a little on the expensive side after you factor in the whole bottle of oil I had to use, and the manicotti shells I bought to use as molds. But it was a fun experience, and after the last challenge, it was nice to make something I had success with on the first try! (For recipe, please visit our hostess Lisa Michele’s blog at the link below.)
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.