Friday, November 27, 2009

November Daring Bakers: Cannoli

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.

These cannoli were absolutely amazing! I made the given recipe for the cannoli shells, filled them with a pumpkin filling, and garnished the ends with chopped pecans. The dough was fairly easy to work with (though I definitely recommend using a pasta machine to roll it out!). Frying the dough was a bit fussy, but not too difficult. The filling, though, is really what made these cannoli shine to me. I made a pumpkin filling with homemade mascarpone and ricotta cheeses, and it was absoultely delicious! I had never made homemade cheese before, but I will definitely be doing it again. It's a big money saver since mascarpone in particular is always extremely pricey at the store. The flavor was also incredible. Especially with the fresh ricotta, it was almost like eating a different cheese than the ricotta available for purchase! Wow. I've pasted the cheese and filling recipes below, and the cannoli recipe and assembly instructions are available from Lisa.

I made the cannoli for a dinner party and they were a huge hit! These really are the perfect fall dessert. A friend of mine who's a New Yorker even said these are the best cannoli he'd ever had! That definitely made me thanks to our hostess for an awesome recipe! Be sure to check out all the other cannoli this month at The Daring Kitchen.

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese (from Baking Obsession)
Makes about 1/2 cup

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating.

2. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir.

3. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese (from Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives)
Makes about 1-1/4 cups

4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Line a large strainer or sieve with cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl.

2. In a large pot or saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula.

3. Once the milk comes to a boil, add the lemon juice all at once. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring gently with a rubber spatula. The mixture will curdle immediately.

4. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer and let drain for an hour or two. Discard the liquid whey and refrigerate the ricotta or use immediately. If you want it really dry, wrap it back up with the cheesecloth, leave it in the strainer over the bowl, weight it down with something heavy, and refrigerate overnight.

Pumpkin Filling

3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place the ricotta cheese and canned pumpkin in a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a bowl. Fold the cheesecloth over the cheese and pumpkin and weight it down with a couple of cans. Place in the fridge for a few hours of overnight.

2. Place the ricotta and pumpkin in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the mascarpone and beat until the filling is smooth and creamy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla and blend until smooth. Chill until the filling firms up a bit and then fill cannoli.

Some of my personal favorites this month:
Cannoli with lemon goat cheese cream
Cannoli with peppermint-mascarpone filling
Gingerbread ice cream in cannoli cones
Gingerbread cannoli with creamy lemon filling
Chestnut, chocolate, and hazelnut cannoli

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  1. Nice version of a thanksgiving tasting cannoli!! And its fantastic that everyone loved it at the party!

  2. I'm so glad the cannoli was a hit for you and yours! They turned out beautiful and look yummy! I agree that the pumpkin filling really rocks..and liked it better than the traditional filling! Thanks for 'frying' with me this month!!

  3. Love those bubbles on the shell. Looks really nice, crispy and delicious. Well done on this month challenge Sara.

  4. Your cannoli looks delicious! I can't believe you made homemade ricotta and mascarpone on top of making the shells. Great job!!

  5. Homemade ricotta? Now that's dedication! And it looks like all of that hard work paid off, you cannoli seem perfect!

  6. Oooh pumpkin filling with mascarpone! be still my heart, that sounds wonderful!

  7. Awesome! And you made your own mascarpone and ricotta too!

  8. Those cannoli look PERFECT those blisters and warts are excellent. Well done I can see why they were considered the best he has had. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  9. Your cannoli look terrific and you get extra kudos for making your own cheese! Well done!

  10. Thanks for including the recipes for the home made cheese. You are right, that is definitely cheaper than buying marscapone. So glad you cannoli were a hit!

  11. I'm with you on using a pasta machine to roll out the dough. It makes it so much easier! Nice cannoli!

  12. Wow i bet the homemade mascarpone tasted yummy :)

  13. Your cannoli looks perfect! great job!

  14. Your pumpkin filling sounds simply divine, and the cannolis look uber-cute. Way to go on this month's challenge, I think you mastered it :) Keep up the amazing bakes!

  15. Yummy pumpkin cannoli! You did a great job on them.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  16. Homemade ricotta AND mascarpone ... that's awesome! I have yet to give homemade ricotta a try but it's on my list. Nicely done!