Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers November 09: Chocolate Orange Cannoli

I am still so stuffed from last night's Thanksgiving dinner.... Or maybe it's from the piece of pecan pie I had for breakfast this morning.  In all the busyness from last night, I nearly forgot that today is the Daring Bakers reveal day!

So, without further adieu, here's the November 2009 Daring Baker's Challenge: 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).

She writes:
Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts. Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, and in fact, makes for an even creamier filling when substituted for part of the ricotta, or by itself. However, cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc. You could also add your choice of herbs, zests or spices to the dough, if desired. Marsala is the traditional wine used in cannoli dough, but any red or white wine will work fine, as it’s not only added for flavor or color, but to relax the gluten in the dough since it can be a stiff dough to work with. 

I'll admit, this challenge brought about one of my baking fears: frying.  I've got almost zero experience with deep frying, except for the doughnuts we did in class a few weeks ago.  And I'm also nervous about frying at my apartment because if there ever was a problem and I got hurt, I don't really know anyone who could help me! Ahhh!

I truly did plan on conquering the fear and having a friend come help me fry.  But when it came right down to it, Thanksgiving was looming so quickly that I ran out of time to try the frying.  So, I baked cannoli cups in a 350 F oven instead of frying cannoli tubes.  I'm kind of sad about this fact, but I do have left over dough (currently resting in my freezer) and I may try to fry some in the future.

I tried two different baking techniques, since I'm unfamiliar with cannoli dough and how it acts. One batch I baked inside my Williams Sonoma mini tart pan (with fluted edges) and one batch I draped over an upside down mini muffin tin.  Both were non-stick surfaces. The Williams-Sonoma pan seemed to work better, but in both cases, I overbaked them, unfortunately :(

Then, I made a sweetened Ricotta Cheese filling with orange and bittersweet chocolate. Additionally, I dipped the shells in melted bittersweet chocolate before filling them.

I've not really been a fan of ricotta cheese in dessert items--I always thought it belonged in lasagna instead.  But, this challenge may have won me over to ricotta in desserts!  The filling was so tasty!  I may or may not have squirted it from the pastry bag straight into my mouth.   shhhh....

A couple additional tips about the filling....  I ran out of time to properly drain my ricotta cheese before making the filling. Story of my life is having great intentions and not necessarily having the time to follow through.....  So, my filling was more liquid than I would have liked..... I chopped Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips to add to the filling and I didn't chop all of them quite as finely as I should have. Some of the pieces were too big to fit through the star tip I used for piping. Still, it turned out pretty well and tasted yummy.

As Lisa mentioned above, cannoli traditionally contains Marsala wine.  I did have a bit of a time finding Marsala wine.  I'm not as knowledgable about wine as I'd like to be (but that will change next semester when I take "Intro to Wine" Hurray!) and had no idea that Marsala wine has a much higher alcohol content than most other wines.  So, I had to make a trip to a liquor store to find it.

In North Dakota, all alcohol is sold in liquor stores, nothing in grocery stores. I guess I've been spoiled by wine in grocery stores since moving to SC. I tried several stores before finally asking a store associate where I could find marsala and having them tell me I'd have to go to a liquor store or buy a "cooking grade marsala."  I wasn't so keen on buying the "cooking grade" so I went off in search of an open liquor store.  Liquor stores in SC have the oddest hours....  And I always seemed to go when they were closed.  But finally, last weekend, I found one that was open!  And they had Marsala!  Success!

If you've never used Marsala before, you may be surprised by it's lovely aroma, as I was. It has such a different smell than I had expected (although I'm not exactly sure what I expected).... somewhat sweet? I'm hoping to experiment more with it in the future.

Thanks, Lisa for a wonderful challenge! 


Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
400 g Part Skim Ricotta Cheese {should be drained in a cheesecloth overnight in the refrigerator if you don't procrastinate like me}
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Orange zest for garnish
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the (drained) Ricotta and the Confectioner's sugar and mix until just combined. Add in the cinnamon, vanilla bean paste, and orange extract.  Add the chopped chocolate.  
2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the filling and refrigerate until ready to pipe into chocolate-dipped shells. 
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  1. What a great idea to bake them in a cup shape, definitely a change to the traditional shape!

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your mini cannoli tarts, and that filling looks and sounds wonderful. I also did an aorange chocolate chip filling for my stacked cannoli, but made the mistake of whirring it in the food processor, so it was kind of loose instead of fluffy. However, the taste is all that matters, right? :) Thanks so much for baking with me this month, and I have no doubt your impending fried shells will turn out awesome..with NO 'side of' fire! lol

  3. Cannoli cups are a great idea! And I so hear you about "having great intentions and not having time to follow through"! But the cannoli cups look like you followed through very well indeed :) By the way, deep frying isn't too scary, it's just a bit messy s'all.

  4. What beautiful cannoli cups! They don't look overbaked at all! I want one! :)