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To the Mountaintop in Sicily for Cannoli (and how to make them at home)

Appetito's resident baker and Italian travel enthusiast, Bilena Settepani, went with her father to the top of a mountain in Sicily for legendary cannoli. She tells the story and shares the recipe that her family uses back at home.

Bilena Settepani with cannoli

The author with her beloved cannoli.

Growing up the daughter of a Sicilian baker, you could imagine my childhood being spent at my father’s bakery, helping him and my nonna with various tasks, including my favorite of all: filling (and eating) cannolis.

This task (the filling, not the eating) is how I learned the artistry of making the perfect cannoli. It’s a gentle, labor intensive process that involves making and frying the cannoli shell, prepping the ricotta, and finally stuffing the cannoli with the perfect amount of filling. The best cannoli are filled fresh (the shell should crack) and give you an aftertaste of fresh ricotta.

And now working alongside my dad at our bakery, he wanted to take me back to Sicily to show me where all of our great traditions come from. First stop? Cannoli Heaven.

Nearly two hours up the mountains outside of Palermo is the charming town of Piana degli Albanesi, where the undisputed best cannoli in the world comes from, at ExtraBar, owned by the Petta brothers. 

The owner invited us to watch him prepare the ricotta and fill the cannoli fresh. Their technique was flawless—how I imagine Michelangelo to look while painting one of his masterpieces.

Mangia!

I’d never had ricotta like this. It was sweet, creamy, light, and the perfect amount cheesy. The shell had the ideal crunch and complimented the ricotta. This was the best cannoli I’ve ever had, absolutely worth the long climb to get there.

We took some to go for lunch with my family back in town, which felt more like a gift than just dessert. “Mamma mia, che bel regalo!” 

Want to make the cannoli from Piana degli Albanesi at home? That’s impossible. But here’s a great recipe to make cannoli at home that’ll make you feel like you’re almost in Sicily (below).

But first, here’s some of the tools and tips you will need: 

Cannoli molds

• Piping bag 

Deep pan or fryer 

• Rolling pin 

• 3- or 4-inch circle cookie cutter 

Candied Orange Peels

Tag us and share if you make it! @appetitomagazine @bilenasettepani #holycannoli

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Cannoli at Home

Cannoli at Home

Recipe by Bilena Settepani
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: DessertCuisine: Italian
Servings

25

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Dough
  • 2 cups 2 flour

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 sugar

  • 1 pinch 1 salt

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 butter (cut in cubes of don't melt/room temp)

  • 1 1 egg yolk

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 marsala wine

  • For the Filling
  • 2 cups 2 ricotta

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon 1 vanilla

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

  • 1 teaspoon 1 ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 candied orange peels chopped into cubes

Directions

  • For the Dough
  • Sift dry ingredients into a bowl.
  • With your hands, incorporate the butter until it feels like sand.
  • Add the egg.
  • Slowly add the wine.
  • Wrap dough in plastic and shape into a disk and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting, start on the filling.
  • For the Filling
  • Combine your ricotta, heavy cream, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon.*
  • Add chocolate chips and candied orange peel.
  • Put the filling in a piping bag, ready to use once one shells are cool.
  • For the Cannoli
  • Roll out your dough with a rolling pin or a pasta attachment on your KitchenAid.
  • Roll out the dough to be ⅛ inch thin.
  • Cut circles with a 3 or 4 inch cookie cutter (you will get about 25 pieces).
  • Wrap your dough disks around your cannoli molds and bind the dough with egg wash.
  • Slightly flair the edges of the cannoli from the mold (it will make it easier to get off the mold).
  • Fill a deep pot or fryer with canola oil and wait for it to get to 360* degrees.
  • Once the oil is hot, add your cannoli in there to fry (don't overcrowd the pot).
  • Let the dough get golden and take them out (2 - 3 mins).
  • Take them out with tongs and let them cool (repeat until all shells are fried).
  • Put the tip of your piping bag full of cannoli filling in the shell and fill each shell up.
  • Add some powdered sugar on top for garnish.
  • Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • *If your ricotta is very liquid, please drain it out before mixing in the ingredients.
  • ** Egg wash =1 egg + 1 tablespoon of water, beaten together.

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