Martina and Irene, two members from Williams-Sonoma’s European team, visited Sicily last year to discover the island’s rich culinary history for our latest feature. Along with classic arancini and fresh seafood, they tasted an authentic Sicilian treat: cannoli, tube-shaped fried pastries filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta cheese mixture.
Cannoli can be found at many bakeries and restaurants throughout Sicily, but for a true indulgence, make them at home. Martina and Irene asked Alessandra, a Sicilian home cook they met during their travels, to share a traditional recipe with The Blender — and fortunately, she obliged! See Alessandra and her cannoli recipe below; her version is flavored with dark chocolate flakes and garnished with candied orange peel.
2 lb. sheep’s milk ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 oz. dark chocolate flakes
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups “00” flour
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 oz. lard or butter
2 Tbs. Marsala wine
2 tsp. cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
40 pieces of candied orange peel
To make the filling, in a bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese and sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, spoon the ricotta mixture into a fine-mesh sieve to drain, then transfer to a clean bowl and stir in the chocolate flakes.
To make the crust, in a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, lard, Marsala, cocoa powder and salt. Remove the dough from the bowl and stretch it out into a thin layer. Cut the dough into about 20 rounds, each 4 inches in diameter, and roll them up on cylindrical molds. Join the ends with a drop of water.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat oil for deep-frying until boiling. Carefully add the dough-covered molds, a few at a time, to the oil and fry until crispy.
Remove the crusts from the molds and let cool. Fill the cannoli with the ricotta cream and decorate with the pieces of candied orange peel (1 piece for each side). Makes about 20 cannoli.
Note: Italian speakers can check out some more of Alessandra’s recipes on her blog.
About the author: Olivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.