Crazy For Cannolis
As a first generation AMERICAN with parents who emigrated from Germany and Ireland, I ate lots of sauerkraut and Irish soda bread as a kid. I suppose it’s only natural then, that as an adult, I would want to learn how to make Cannolis.
Let me connect the European dots for you. My best friend’s Dad was from Italy. Once a year he would take us to New York City to the San Gennaro Feast in the historic Little Italy. The smells alone were enough to make a young girl giddy. Her mom used to make mostacciolis during the week and her grandmother would nurse a sauce all-day-long on a Sunday. Mid-afternoon she’d come out of her kitchen, wipe her hands on her apron and wave us inside for a serving of spaghetti and sauce with Italian bread. Heaven.
I grew up loving and yearning for what was on the other side of the fence, Italian food.
My love for all foods Italian may also (in a twisted sort of way) have something to do with the fact that when I was very young, we rented a second-floor apartment in a house owned by an Italian family who had three boys: La John-o, La JoJ-o and La Carl-o. We were often invited down to their basement to share a meal that always included home-made pasta, bread and wine.
I have a very strong and clear memory of the two younger boys coaxing me into a wine barrel one day, closing the lid and rolling me around their front lawn, just for fun.The smell of wine inside the barrel was so pungent, it too resurfaces every time the memory does. In addition to the obvious trauma that would accompany such an event, I truly believe this is why I don’t like confined spaces. It was also probably the first time I ever got “tipsy”. I think I was five.
Back to making Cannolis.
This holiday weekend I’m spending a few days Upstate New York with my daughter. I always try to have a few activities in mind for my kids when we come here and ever since they could stand on a stool and hold a measuring cup, my children and I have been creating in the kitchen together. I love doing things with my kids and the kitchen is a wonderful, natural classroom that provides a great opportunity to bond, learn and teach. We’ve made everything from soups to nuts, — including pasta, cakes, cookies and this weekend, Cannolis!
Just check out the visual above for a clear view of what you’ll need. I guess if I was Italian, I’d know where to buy fresh ricotta but I’m not, so I settled for Sorrento brand from the supermarket. I didn’t need the granulated sugar or farm fresh eggs but they seemed to complete the photo so I left them in. And yes, those are boxed (store-bought) Cannoli shells you see in my picture. They were the only ones my grocer carries. I’m Crazy for Cannolis that’s true but I also know, what I don’t know and what my limitations are! Making the shells from scratch was not an option, this time.
Here’s my I’m-Not-Italian But Here’s My Very Delicious Cannoli Filling Recipe:
2 lbs. ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups confectionery sugar
1/4 cup half ‘n half
4 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tsp. cinnamon (more if you love cinnamon like us – more cinnamon will result in a darker filling complexion)
Semi-sweet chocolate morsels (enough to make you happy)
1-2 tbs. honey (my secret ingredient that’s no longer a secret)
Drain the ricotta of any excess moisture. Mix ricotta, confectionery sugar, half ‘n half, vanilla, cinnamon and honey together until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill and fill the shells using a pastry bag or small spoon shortly before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about a dozen Cannolis.
It’s that easy! Have a safe and happy holiday and most of all, enjoy!
Photo Credit #1: ©Karen Szczuka Teich
Photo Credit #2: Google Images
Photo Credit #3: ©Karen Szczuka Teich