Have you ever eaten something while you were on vacation that you can’t get out of your mind? And of course, you can’t find an equal substitute back home? Carciofi alla Giudia in Rome, sourdough in San Francisco, sushi in Japan. We had Nutella cannoli from a bakery in the Little Italy section of Boston that had my family bickering over who got to lick the parchment paper wrapper, and I knew I had to find a way to duplicate the recipe.
Admittedly, these are not traditional cannoli. The addition of whipped cream to the ricotta filling isn’t standard. But it gives the mixture a light, smooth texture that I prefer over the heavier ricotta-only fillings. And I wanted to modify them for a dinner party, making them into bite-sized sandwiches instead of the messy tubes. If you don’t want make the rather large commitment of frying batches of cannoli circles, you should still try the filling in your favorite store-bought shells. It’s really easy to make. Just try very hard not to pipe it directly into your mouth.
The filling can be made up to a day in advance. The shells can be make 3-4 days in advance. Assemble right before serving so the cannoli shells don’t get soggy.
Cannoli Bites with Nutella Filling
makes about 30 mini sandwiches
For the filling:
2 cups ricotta
1/2 cup nutella
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Combine the ricotta and nutella in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment on a hand mixer, whisk the mixture until smooth.
Beat the cream into whipped cream until stiff.
Gently fold the cream into the ricotta mixture until incorporated.
Transfer the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
For the shells:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup marsala wine
Vegetable oil for frying
Sift flour, sugar, salt and cocoa into a large bowl.
Work the butter into the dough with your fingers until it forms a coarse meal.
Add the egg yolk and wine, stirring to combine. Knead into a smooth dough, adding more flour if it’s too sticky or more wine if too dry. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate and let rest for 1 hour. You can keep the dough in the fridge for a few days if necessary.
Cut disc into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out as thinly as you can. I used a pasta machine, rolling it down to the second-to-last setting. But you can certainly use a rolling pin on a lightly floured counter instead.
Use a round cookie cutter or a biscuit cutter to cut discs of dough.
Heat about 1 inch of oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Fry the discs in batches, turning once, until golden brown and crisp (should take about 1 minute). Be careful not to overcrowd the pan, as the temperature of the oil could drop too low.
Chocolate curls (use a vegetable peeler to shave curls off the edge of a chocolate bar)
Pipe the filling onto one of the rounds. Top with another round to form a sandwich. Pipe a twist of filling onto the top of the sandwich. Dust with powdered sugar and cocoa powder, and sprinkle with chocolate curls.