Making Sicilian Cannoli

Hey. Your regular guy Joey ain’t here right now. He had to go see a guy about a thing, knowadimean? I’m his cousin Paulie. I’m here to make sure he doesn’t get this whole cannoli thing fudged up, pardon the French. ‘Cause ya know there’s no bakery cannolo in the world that beats the kind you make at home, which are so friggin’ light and so friggin’ rich and so friggin’ crunchy it makes me about to wanna friggin’ die. Jeez there I go again with the French, sorry. I told Joey I’d watch my friggin’ mouth. Ah, shhhi—

Anyway let’s get going on this. I got a thing later. First you need some dough, right? So sift the flour and salt and sugar into your mixer bowl here. You don’t gotta use a mixer if you don’t want, you can do this with a spoon and a bowl. That’s how nonna did it.

Put on the paddle and add the shortening. Stir that until it’s like bread crumbs, maybe two minutes, then start putting in the tablespoons of Marsala.



…until you got maybe six in there. Run the machine for maybe two-three minutes. The dough ought to be coming together. Add a teaspoon more Marsala otherwise. You want this sorta lookin’ thing:

Take the dough pieces out, put ’em on a board…

…and knead the dough. Yeah Joey and I both have our nonna’s hands. Jeez she made some great friggin’ cannoli. Her sausage and peppers made you wanna friggin’ cry.

Anyway, you want it like this:

Wrap that bad boy up in plastic and let it sit on the counter an hour.

After an hour flour your board and grab a pin. Cut a piece of dough, maybe a quarter of it.

Roll it out.

Keep rolling until it’s thin — and I mean thin — curling at the edges, bubbles underneath, stickin’-to-the-board thin. Look close and you can see the board through this sheet of dough, that’s how friggin’ thin it is. Ah crap there’s the French again. It’s a habit. Sorry Joey!

Now if I was you I’d let that sheet sit there about ten minutes so it relaxes a little. Otherwise it snaps back like aunt Angiola’s bra strap at the end of a hard day, knowadimean? Ah fudge, can I say crap like that here? Anyway then get your cutter and cut ’em.

See the cut circles are snapping back a little there even after a rest. You know they don’t have this problem back in Italy. They don’t. It’s the gluten in the flour they got. Ask Joey he’ll tell you all about it. Just make sure you got some time to spare first, knowadimean?

So now all we do is roll the circles out to make ’em a little bigger and a little thinner. I also roll ’em a little oval-shaped which makes the ends of the cannoli look a little nicer. This one isn’t perfect but then neither is life, am I right?

Grab a lightly greased cannolo form and wrap it around.

Oop, but before you finish the roll dab your finger in a little egg white…

…then wipe it on there. Now, you’re finished.

So OK, get your oil good and hot, about 360. Gently ease those bad boys in. Don’t go splashing or you’ll be sorry I promise. Here I’m only doing two, but I usually do four at a time. You wanna make sure that when you get all of ’em in the oil you keep ’em moving around a little. Otherwise the sides that are touching the bottom of the pan are gonna burn, right? Roll those things a little.

After maybe 45 seconds, when they’re a little brown, carefully pick ’em up one at a time with your tongs.

The cannoli shells might slip right off the end if you shake the thing just a little. Or you can push ’em off the form with a butter knife. Bingo, back in the oil they go.

Since they’re gonna want to float, you wanna hold’em under with the tongs or with a nice big spider like you see in the next picture there. Fry’em maybe another two minutes.

You want to go a little darker than you would with a doughnut, say. That’s how they make’em in Italy and that little bit of bitter flavor is nice with the filling. Very nice.

Some of these are a little ugly, but then so are you am I right? Hey lighten up I’m just bustin’ chops. You know your problem is you don’t know how to relax. So OK, you let these things drain and cool down all the way. It’s great to make these things ahead. Just put ’em in a box with an airtight lid and they stay pretty crispy for a week. The main thing is, you’d don’t ever, EVER want to fill a cannolo until you’re ready to eat it. Otherwise the shells get soggy. Which sucks. Eh…sorry.

Fill up a pastry bag with ricotta cream, maybe you got a few mini chocolate chips mixed in there, and fill one side.

Flip it and fill the other. Now if you want to dip the ends in more chips or some chopped pistachios, knock yourself out.

Me I just like a little sugar on top.

How do these things taste? Fuggeddaboudit. Hey, this has been fun. Alright, I’m outta here. – Paulie

28 thoughts on “Making Sicilian Cannoli”

  1. And now we know the source of that famous line, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”


  2. You know, you don’t really need a round or oval cutter. The Italian pastry shop where I always got mine back in NY used squares oriented as diamonds where 2 points overlap.

    I thought they were pretty because they had a little more reveal of the pastry cream that way.

    They also put some finely chopped candied citron in the filling along with some chopped chocolate. I love candied citron! Nothing else is like it.

    1. Hey that’s a pretty sweet idea, Rainey! I’m gonna remember that.

      – P. Pastry

    1. Hey, thanks Ann! I never get the appreciation I deserve, knowadimsayin’?

      – Paulie P.

    1. Yes indeed it will. In fact the original recipe suggests a pasta machine. I just didn’t feel like bringing mine up from the basement. Well observed, Bronwyn!

      – Joe

    1. Hey, don’t sell yourself short, guy. Veniero’s is great — and I don’t mean no disrespect — but they can’t do better than you can with a fresh cannolo, and that ain’t no bullshi— sorry there I go again. Man up and get it done, knowadimsayin’?

      – P

      1. You should let me off. For old times sake.

        And let Michael know that not trying the recipe was never personal. It was just business.

        1. I know it was you, Fredo…you broke my heart.

          Now c’mere and lemme give you a big smooch!

          – P

  3. aaa, tanks Paulie. Dis is nice a ya. But be careful. After “Leave the gun, take the cannoli” I heard someone say “Oh, Paulie, you aint gonna see him around here no more”

    1. Yo Frankie! Where you been? But ya know I didn’t think a that. Maybe I oughtta think about takin’ a little vacation here…

      – P

  4. Speaking of Italian pastry, if you have access to a walnut tree the next couple weeks would be the time to pick those green puppies and start brewing some nocino. That way next year you’ll have something smooth and delicious to sip along with your cannoli.

  5. Hahaha, that was an awesome post. I love your cousin Paulie. He should come around here more often!

  6. You guys are to funny. ;D What is this nocino that you speak of? My curiosity is peaked and I’m not very good at controlling it. >.>

    1. Hey Elle!

      Actually I had a sort of adoptive Italian grandma when I was a boy. I’m really Scottish-Irish. However my best friend on the block growing up was half Italian. We used to visit his grandma’s apartment on the near West side on Sundays….where she’d stuff us to the gills! Happy days those were…for, ehem, both of us. 😉

      – Joe

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