Holy Cannoli 101
Cannolis require 2 things: a filling and a shell. The shells can be bought at the store but fresh is so much better they are hardly the same product. While many stores will sell expensive tubes for making shells, this is unnecessary and far from traditional. Apparently, Italians historically used wooden tubes to make their shells. I read one story about a set of wooden tubes that had been in a family for over 50 years and that they were cut from an old broom. That's recycling!
1. I went to Lowe's and looked at the untreated dowel rods. I picked a
1" dowl that must've been 4 feet long. I had it cut into 4" segments and received 12 pieces.
2. Using coarse and fine sandpaper. The edges were sanded with coarse
followed by fine sandpaper until the edges were rounded and faces
smooth. The lengths were sanded with the fine paper only until smooth.
3. The tubes were then washed with soap and water and dried. Ready to use!
Using the following recipe:
A few things can be clarified. If you chill the dough, it may become
too stiff to roll. If it becomes too stiff add a little water. I wound
up adding over a Tbsp before the dough was pliable. Using a container
with a 4" round base (take out container from Thai Sewatdee worked), I
cut circles from the thinly rolled (~1/8 to 1/4 inch, closer to 1/8")
dough. Using a rolling pin (or a flat surfaced cup...I don't remember
which I used) roll the circle a little thinner in one direction to
create an ellipse. You need an ellipse to wrap loosely around the
cannoli tube. Overlap the seam edges as much as possible and press
together firmly. You can try sealing with a little water. It may or
may not help. I didn't find sealing with egg white to be helpful.
Place no more than three in a deep fryer at a time. The tube will want
to roll to the top (the end with less dough (b/c it is lighter) so you
will need to occasionally use a long handled instrument (slotted spoon
or whatever) to roll the cannoli so that it is cooked on all sides.
Remove when browned. This process takes 5-7 minutes per set. Once removed, allow the shells and tubes to cool for a few minutes. Then, gently press the tube from one end to remove the cannoli shell without breaking it. Once the shell is removed, the tube is ready for the next round of cannoli dough.
This was the base recipe for filling. It was a start but far from the finish. The edited recipe follows:
1 c. Ricotta cheese (strained of fluid using cheese cloth)
1/8 c. Kahlua or other coffee flavoring (More can be added but be
careful with liberality b/c your filling needs body.)
3/8 c. Sugar (it wasn't sweet enough the first time. Powdered sugar
might be a better solution)
1/3 c. Semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c. Heath bits
The shells are best when freshly made and eaten. They are nowhere near
as good the next day but definitely edible. If the option is
available, roll out the dough but wait to fry them until ready to
fill. The filling is better if you let the flavors mingle for a few hours or overnight. I suggest waiting to put the chips in until before filling so that they do not dissolve in the mixture.