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"The queen of all southern Italian desserts is cannoli. These crisp, flaky cylinders are filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, nuts, citron, and with or without bits of chocolate. Sicily lays claim to cannoli, which probably originally came from the Arabs, who influenced so much of Sicily's cooking"... Mary Ann Esposito, Cookbook Author

You can buy either ready-made cannoli shells, or purchase stainless steel cannoli tubes to make the cannoli shells yourself.

For the Shells:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 eggs plus 2 yolks
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 egg white, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Filling:
16 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
6 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 tablespoons candied orange rind, chopped
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, (optional)

Cannoli Shells:
Place the flour on a work surface and make a well. Place eggs, yolks, butter, Marsala wine in the well and combine them with a fork. Gradually incorporate the flour, little by little. Knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. Let rest, covered with a damp cloth, about 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Roll the dough very thin and cut into 4-inch squares with a pizza cutter. Grease 3/4-inch cannoli tubes and roll the dough around them, sealing the overlap with beaten egg white. Deep-fry them at 335 degrees F (170 C) until golden brown. Cool and carefully slide them off the tubes.

Drain the ricotta cheese overnight in a cheesecloth-lined colander in the refrigerator. The next day, place ricotta, sugar, orange rind, lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla scrapings in the food processor and blend until very smooth. Just before serving, pipe the filling into each shell with a pastry bag and large plain tip. Dip the ends in chopped pistachios if you like.

Flavor Variations
You can make your own distinct variation of Cannoli. Try adding cocoa, orange juice, chocolate shavings, maraschino cherries, small pieces of dried apricot or other dried fruit, candied cherries or other candied fruit to the ricotta filling mixture. Garnish your cannoli with confectioners' sugar to give a pretty finished look.

Flavoring Cannoli Shells
Why not add a tablespoon of cocoa to the shell mixture to give the cannoli shells a delicious chocolate look and taste.

Recipe makes 32 cannoli shells, and enough filling for 32 shells. Serve each person 2 cannoli.

Source: DianasDesserts.com
Date: April 22, 2002