EASY HOLIDAY CANNOLI WITH QUICK HOMEMADE RICOTTA
I am not Italian but I am cheesemaker and I love a cheese-based dessert. Fittingly, I make cannoli for the holidays (several times). I'm also not a dedicated pastry maker so while I make the ricotta myself, I purchase the shells online. You can do this too, or for a very easy gluten-free version you can serve a cannoli dip with fruit.
Simple cannoli are so festive looking on their own but add pistachios, chocolate bits and tiny bits of jeweled fruit for gorgeous gifts and seriously party-worthy treats. You may already be making ricotta with my cheesemaking kits and books but I wanted to share the recipes I have on my website as well so you have them handy. The Instant Pot version is not in a book or kit.
I first followed this great recipe to learn the basic filling technique and adjusted the amount of sugar and cinnamon to my taste. I now add fresh orange zest, and sometimes anise seeds.
I like this traditional Sicilian filling because it is primarily delicious ricotta. No whipped cream or custard nonsense and not even any mascarpone. If you follow the directions for making the ricotta fluffy and smooth, you don't need anything else for a light texture. It's so good that you can serve just the filling with fruit for dipping, or if you'd like, some simple cookies. I called this Holy Cannoli Dip in my book, One Hour Cheese. It is always a hit in my classes.
That's what I do when I don't think ahead and order shells. Maybe someday soon I will make the shells too, but honestly I'm impressed by the shells made and sold online by the Ferrara family. I use the mini shells for perfectly sized desserts after holiday meals.
Here are two of my recipes for whole milk ricotta you can use to make your own cannoli anytime of year. I prefer the Instant Pot method myself now though the ricotta is ready in 30 minutes with either method. If you buy the shells like I do you will have an easy, no-bake, no sugar crash, amazing dessert in no time!
Filling and decorating cannoli is way faster than making sugar cookies or gingerbread. Imagine dropping these by your neighbor's porch or taking them to work. Try not to be too smug when you say, yeah, I made the ricotta myself. Though they will know you really care about them if you mention it. ;) I don't mind you plugging my cheesemaking books and kits either. Thank you in advance!
I love cheese desserts for how hearty they taste. Made with your own creamy ricotta, I have a feeling you will also make cannoli a tradition. Try a ricotta cheesecake too. It's different than the New York style but just as tasty. For lots more cheese-based (and whey) dessert recipes, check out my cheesemaking books and DIY cheese kits.
Happy holidays friends! Claudia
ps. did you know just one is called a cannolo?