“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” Who could forget that? The Italian cannoli recipe is a traditional fried dessert originating in Sicily.
The cannoli were usually eaten during the Carnival, but because this dessert was so popular and appreciated, people began eating them also during other occasions.
As a matter of fact, cannoli didn’t even need an occasion to be eaten.
They were so delicious, that Italians just decided to bake them whenever they felt like it, throughout the year, and it is a very simple recipe.
The Authentic cannoli recipe consists of a fried and crispy pastry wrap, stuffed with a creamy filling of ricotta, chocolate chips and candied pumpkin cubes.
The latter got a bit lost in time and isn’t considered to be the main ingredient anymore. The Sicilian cannoli are then trimmed laterally and covered with candied cherries, orange peels or chopped pistachios, but the filling remains the same.
Note: The authentic cannoli recipe consists of it, but if you don’t want lard at all, replace it with the same amount of vegetable oil. If you don’t prefer using chocolate chips, you can only use candied fruit.
Fill the cannoli waffles right before serving, to keep their characteristic crispness.
You can use your hands to eat cannoli. Pick up the cannoli with the tip of your fingers and start biting it from one extremity. Be careful as they often crack. If you prefer, you can set them on a plate and eat them using fork and a knife.
Cannoli are best enjoyed as fresh as they possibly can be. However, you can store them in the fridge for one or two days.
To preserve its crunchiness, cannoli shells are best stored in a metal or in a glass container for a few days.
It is not recommended to freeze filled cannolis. In fact, the ricotta might separate when frozen and the shells can become soggy when defrosted. Better eat them all right away!
The traditional cannoli filling is made out of ricotta cheese and sugar. However, you can find more modern variations that use pistachios crumbles or chocolate chips in it.
Yes, it is recommended to strain the ricotta before using it for the cannoli filling. Straining the ricotta helps making it softer and creamier, by doing so it will be better for preparing desserts and fillings.
You already know that cannolo is one of the traditional desserts typically served in the island of Sicily, thanks in part to the wildly famous and iconic Godfather films. However, this dessert’s origin dates way back earlier than you may have imagined.
According to historians, during the 1st century AD, the island of Sicily was invaded by Muslims and control of the island was seized from then ruling Byzantine Empire.
The island became the Emirate of Sicily and basically developed a multi-cultural and multilingual society.
It was during this Arab rule, specifically from 831AD to 1091AD, that historians say the cream-filled dessert was invented.
Historians noted that because Sicilians were under Arab rule, it became important for the locals to make their traditional food or dishes stand out.
This theory is further cemented by the fact that cannolo was specifically created to celebrate the Carnevale season, which is the festival that happens right before the start of Lent season, a very important Christian holiday.
There is also the theory that the sweet pastry is a symbol of fertility and eroticism. Those who believe this story claim that the pastries are eaten during Carnevale as a symbol of the festival’s wildly erotic parties, parades, and masquerades.
Another story, however, claims that the cannoli filling came from the Saracens, an ancient Arab tribe, and was brought by the Arabs when they occupied Sicily.
According to Waverly Root, an American culinary researcher and author, the dessert was once called cappelli di turchi that translates to “Turkish hats.” He said that the old name for the dessert was proof that Sicilians then attributed the dessert recipe to the Arabs.
On the other hand, he claims that the authentic Italian cannoli shells had far more ancient origins than the filling.
He said that mention of the tube shaped shells could be traced back to prehistoric times and that they were associated with stone steles called menhirs, which were most probably fertility symbols.
Now, whichever origin story you might believe, one thing is certain: the cannolo is a richly indulgent pastry that has earned its place right at the heart of Sicilian culture.
Here we share this really simple recipe and easy to find ingredients for a scrumptious dessert!
Other Italian desserts recipes:
Made this and it was the best cannoli I’ve ever had
Don’t most Italian Cannoli don’t come with Ricotta Cheese? I remember my mother making the cream for the filling for the Cannoli and she also used Vanilla Bean and then she would fill the cannoli.
Ciao Maria, there are probably many other fillings that can be used as well but the traditional Italian cannoli has a ricotta filling.
My ricotta filling turned out too liquidy not firm . Could it be using granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar?
I used the mixed instead to make ricotta cake so it would not go into waste.
I will try another ricotta filling recipe instead . Shell is ok
Ciao! Sorry it turned out liquidy. Maybe you did, but have you drained the ricotta first? Usually it’s because the quantity of water in the cheese remains high. Glad you were able to use the mix anyway though.
I’d like to add something too. The ricotta that you use for the filling should be ricotta cheese from Italy. It is very different than the common ricotta that most stores sell. I can find authentic ricotta in the deli part of the grocery store. There is literally no liquid in it. The common one has way too much water and you can tell the difference.
Yes, we agree. Grazie Toni!
This is a beautiful recipe using the candied cherries orange peels and the chopped pistachios are the true cannoli I love that you posted this authentic delicious recipe please leave out the chocolate chips for anyone else that is something that was invented in the United States for the American Appetite that is not a cannoli !!
So delicious! Best cannoli ever!!!
If I use red wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar, will it make that much of a difference?
Hi Jessica – no, it will not change the outcome.
Caio! Oh my goodness I love cannoli and cannot wait to try this recipe!
Ciao Joan! Please let us know when you try the recipe! Buona giornata!
Hi! I made these and they are delicious! However, the shells did not bubble like the picture. Mine are just smooth. Any idea what I did wrong?
I made the recipe and it doesn’t say confectioners sugar for the filling it just says sugar so that’s what I used and it was grainy and watery. There should also be a substitute for masala wine if you have none.
Ciao! Have you drained the ricotta? Did you leave the filling for at least an hour in the fridge? As per the Marsala substitute, you can use another fortified wine or rum.
What size pastry rings/cannoli molds did you use?
Hi Stephanie – I used these ones (4 1/2″)
I can’t wait to make this recipe for Easter! Can you please confirm that the recipe calls for granulated sugar? Every other recipe I’ve seen has called for powdered sugar.
Thank you so much!!!!
Ciao Molly – that is correct, grazie for stopping by!
Nice blog on Italian Cannoli. The tips and instructions are helpful. Thank you for sharing.