We are going Italian! Cannoli for Daring Bakers...

Pepper & parmesan cannoli with shrimp filling

Phew! I made it. I do seem to be making a habit of such 11th hour completions, ain't I?! Ah well! All's well that ends well eh?!

Ok, ofcourse, I knew it was due for a month but, November, I tell you, is a very, very busy month for births. Many lovely people (me too.. heh heh) born this month and such occassions must be celebrated. So we had week long debaucheries extending into the wee hours of the night and into neighbouring states. We brought the roof down in restaurants and apartments. We even had the police coming by to check on our ruckus, thanks to an over-sensitive neighbour (remember that Friends episode?)!!

So, finally, the approaching deadlines and posts of Daring Bakers from far East, propelled me into fast action. Fortunately, this was an easy enough challenge to pull off in a few hours time.

Chocolate cannoli with dulce de leche cream cheese filling

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.

Few words from our hostess about the Cannoli -

Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts.

unfilled cannolis

Cannoli is the quintessential sweet item found in Italian bakeries here, made even more popular by Godfather and Sopranos. I have only had the sweet version filled with sweet cream but Lisa said we could make savory versions as well.

Goaded on by Mr. FSK, who constantly challenges me to "savorize" sweet recipes, I decided to go sweet and savory with this challenge. For the savory, I made Parmesan and Cracked Pepper Cannoli with Shrimp and Celery filling and for sweet, Chocolate Cannoli with Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese filling.

Savory Cannoli

I came up with the filling ideas at the last minute with things already in my pantry and fridge (why? did you skip the previous paras?!). Despite the fact that it took me forever to fry the entire batch, given I had only one cannoli tube, I can definitely see myself making these delectable delights for parties and such. My mind is already swirling with ideas for more fillings. Next party, guys; watch out for some fried, fun goodness! :))

I really enjoyed the cannoli and the savory one was even better than I hoped it to be! So the hub was happy and I was thrilled about being able to post in time!

sweet cannoli

Parmesan and Cracked Pepper Cannoli with Shrimp and Celery

I substituted a few things in Lisa's recipe, because, I did not have the items at home. I used rum and water instead of Marsala wine; apple cider vinegar in place of in place of white wine vinegar.

1/3 cup all purpose flour
2-1/2 T fresh grated Parmeggiano Reggiano
1 tsp fresh coarse-cracked pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 T dark rum
1-2 T water
1 T olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the filling:
1/4 cup cooked curried shrimps, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced as small as you can
2 oz cream cheese
1 T sour cream
3 drops of buffalo sauce
salt, pepper to taste

Mix all the filling ingredients. Process half of it into a coarse paste and fold in the rest to get a chunky filling.

Chocolate Cannoli with Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese

1/2 cup AP flour
1-1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
2 T dark rum
1-2 T water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the filling:
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 T butter, room temperature
3 heaping T dulce de leche (recipe from Melanger)
3 T powdered sugar

To make the sweet filling, whip all the ingredients together to make a creamy mixture.

To make the shells: (instructions from Lisa)

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and rum enough of the water to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Assembling the Cannoli:

When ready to serve, fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

Please stop by The Daring Kitchen to see the creative creations of other Daring Bakers