I should have realized when I bought a gallon of whole milk and a pint of heavy cream that I’d end up with a BIG batch of ricotta. Mind you, I can eat ricotta by the spoonful; I love the texture of the tiny, creamy curds and the sweetness of the milk– a little honey drizzle and some fruit and I’m so happy.
I’ve wanted to try my hand at cannoli-making ever since I saw a recipe on Pinterest. Kurt loves cannoli, but only when they’re fresh; those refrigerated ones tend to go soggy. I knew I had more than enough ricotta, and I really wanted to make the shells; however, I discovered doing so requires the purchase of cannoli molds– metal cylinders that keep the cannoli dough in place while you deep fry the shells.
I read online that Wegman’s carries pre-made cannoli shells as part of its “Italian Classics” product line. So off to Weggies I went, after a nice long catch-up chat with my mommy friend Penny. I walked around the entire store looking for those shells and in exasperation, stopped at the bakery and asked them if they carried the Wegman’s cannoli shells. “Sure do,” the baker dude said, “but we don’t put them out; you have to ASK for them.” Sheesh. I bought two dozen mini shells and stashed them on their own back seat in the van to prevent them from being squashed by the rest of my groceries.
I didn’t know what to do for the ricotta filling. I emailed Grace and she said her favorite flavor combination included mini chocolate chips, powdered sugar and almond extract. I asked her about orange zest and she said not to bother– a good thing because I wasn’t sure if Kurt would go for that fruit-and-chocolate combo. I decided to mix the ricotta and powdered sugar with mini chips, vanilla and almond extracts. I added half-and-half as needed until I felt I had the right consistency to use in a pastry bag.
Mini Chocolate Dipped Cannolis
- 2 dozen mini cannoli shells (I used Wegman’s)
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
- 3 cups whole milk ricotta
- 3/4 to 1 c powdered sugar (depends on your preferred sweetness level)
- 3/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- half-and-half as needed to thin filling
- 1/4 c mini chocolate chips
Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Melt the bittersweet chips in a bowl over barely simmering water. When chips are just about melted, turn off the heat.
Dip one end of each cannoli shell in the melted chocolate.
Let excess chocolate drip,
then place on a the baking sheet to harden.
In a mixing bowl, beat the ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extracts together until creamy. If filling is too thick, add a half and half by the teaspoonful until the filling is loose enough to pipe, but not runny. Add the mini chocolate chips and beat again.
When the shells are ready (I didn’t feel like waiting, so I stuck the tray in the refrigerator for 10 minutes), attach the tube piece of a coupler into a pastry bag and fill with the ricotta mixture. (You can work without the coupler piece, but I think using the coupler provides more stability while you pipe).
Starting in the center of the cannoli shell, pipe the filling to one end. Repeat on the other end.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired and serve. You can store extra cannoli in the refrigerator, but over time the shells will become soggy.
These were great; I now prefer the mini size because of the shell-to-filling ratio. I think mine were as good as the ones at the Chocolate Bar! Next time, I’m going to experiment with other flavors in the filling, as well as additional garnish on the shells (nuts, sprinkles, etc). If I’m really adventurous, I’ll buy the cannoli molds and try frying up a batch of shells!