Homemade Cannoli Recipe | How to Make Cannoli from Scratch
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Everyone loves cannoli, but very few people try making them from scratch. It's easier than you might think, though, and the results will far exceed anything you can buy pre-made! Today, Eva shares her recipe for making (and filling!) traditional Sicilian cannoli shells.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Please note: cannoli shell dough is much easier to make in a larger batch, so this recipe provides quantities for 15-20 shells. If you wish to make fewer cannoli, you can always save the finished shells in a ziplock bag to fill later, or even freeze some of the dough to roll and fry at another time. The filling quantity provided will fill about 10 cannoli, so consider doubling it if you wish to fill all of the shells at once.
To make the shells, you will need:
- 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp (15g) lard
- 2 tbsp marsala wine
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 egg
- Oil for frying (we recommend sunflower or peanut oil)
For the filling, you will need:
- 16 oz. (450g) ricotta
- Powdered sugar to taste
- Mini chocolate chips to taste
- Optional decorative toppings (crushed pistachio nuts, candied cherries, and/or candied orange peel)
The day before you plan on filling your cannoli shells, place the ricotta into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to drain overnight in the fridge. Discard the drained water.
To make the shells, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, lard, wine and vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the egg separately, then add 3 1/2 tsp of it into the mixture. Save the remaining egg as it will be used to assemble the shells.
Mix all of the ingredients by hand until they begin to form into a dough. Don't be surprised if it seems quite dry at first, just keep working it and the dough will come together. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, or until it is evenly mixed. Wrap it in plastic and allow to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Now it's time to roll the dough! You can either use a rolling pin or a pasta machine. We recommend working in batches: cut the dough in half and keep the unworked piece wrapped in plastic to prevent drying.
Dust the dough with a little flour and begin rolling it out. If using a pasta machine, start with the largest thickness setting (#1). Roll the dough until it is large enough to fold in half. Do so, and roll again. Don't worry if the dough breaks at first, just keep folding and rolling. Repeat the folding process about 5-8 times; this will trap air in the dough and create the classic bubbles when fried!
Once you have repeated the folding several times, you can roll the dough out to the desired thickness. The dough should be quite thin, around 0.5mm or 1/10 of an inch. If using a machine, gradually roll the dough thinner by reducing the thickness setting by 1 click after each pass. We found that the "#6" setting on our machine provided the right result. If using a rolling pin, simply roll the dough out into a large sheet. In either case, dust the dough with flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
Cut the dough into perfect squares, about 4x4-inches for a classic cannolo (feel free to adjust if you prefer a different size, though).
Wrap each square diagonally around a cannoli mold and "glue" the joined corners together with a dab of egg. Don't wrap them too tight, though; you want to leave a tiny bit of space around the mold so that the shell has some room to expand. If your cannoli molds are too short, simply insert two together to make a larger one.
Fill a large pan with about 2 inches of frying oil and bring up to 355 degrees F (180 C).
Working in batches, carefully drop the cannoli shells into the oil and fry, turning gently with tongs, until golden on all sides. Remove to a paper towel to drain and cool. When they are cool enough to handle, gently slide the molds out. The shells are ready to fill once they have cooled completely.
To make a classic filling, mix the drained ricotta with powdered sugar to taste. Mix in mini chocolate chips to taste as well (about 1/2 cup). Use a spoon to press the filling into each end of a cannolo shell, being sure to fill it completely.
To finish the cannoli, either dip the ends in crushed pistachio nuts, or garnish them with a slice of candied orange peel or a candied cherry. Top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. We recommend filling the cannoli as soon as possible before serving.