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Often at the end of a special meal growing up in Jersey Italian pastries would cap off the day’s celebration.
I’d visit Ferrara’s Pastry on Bloomfield Avenue in Newark and buy a dozen and a half of my family’s favorites. Sfogliatelle, baba, Cannoli, Neapoleans, eclairs. After Ferrara’s closed Calandra’s Bakery near the Water Tower and Dicky Dee’s fried hot dog joint further down Bloomfield Avenue became my go to place.
Here in San Francisco’s North Beach my favorite cannoli (little tubes) is Santo’s at Cavalli Cafe on Stockton. He fills them when you order one and drizzles the ends with his fresh orange syrup. He has regular size and minis. I always get the regular.
But I like my homemade cannoli too. They’re fun to make and really not that difficult. You can make the shells ahead and fill them just before serving.
My shells are crispy with blisters all over so be careful, they’ll shatter as you bite into the sweet, creamy ricotta filling studded with candied orange and chocolate chips.
If you don’t want to make your own shells you can buy the shells. I got a box of Ferrara’s shells at North Beach’s Molinari Deli on Columbus. Whip up your own ricotta filling and fill the shells just before serving so they stay don’t get soggy.
Zeppole di San Giuseppe is a Neapolitan pastry I love too. Check out my zeppole video episode and make some for yourself.
- 4 cups sifted flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup dry white wine
- canola or your favorite vegetable oil for frying
- 4 cups ricotta
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- ¼ cup finely chopped candied orange peel (or lemon peel or candied citron)
- Mix the flour, sugar and sea salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter.
- Add the yolks. Stir in the wine a little at a time until a dough forms. (Use more wine or water if the dough is too dry.)
- Knead the dough briefly on a well-floured board.
- Roll out the dough to ⅛ inch thickness, or run it through a pasta machine.
- Cut the dough in 4-inch circles. Wrap the circles around cannoli forms. (Buy the forms on Amazon and many retail stores.)
- Wet the overlapping edge and pinch the ends together. Flare out the ends.
- Heat the oil in a pot to 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil stay at this temperature. Fry the shells in the oil until lightly brown all over.
- Drain the shells on paper towel.
- With a wire whisk blend the ricotta with the powdered sugar until very smooth.
- Add the vanilla, candied fruit and chocolate and mix well into the ricotta and chill.
- Fill the cannoli shells with the filling just before serving so the shells stay crispy. Piping the filling with a pastry bag works well or use a spoon to fill the cannoli from both ends.
- Dust with powdered sugar.