I am one of those people who like to make and eat certain things during certain times or seasons of the year. Like I am totally at odds with anyone who says they are making stew or Beef Bourguignon in the middle of July… or Strawberry Shortcake around Christmas, Huh?
Anyway, I fully understand cannoli can be made and eaten anytime of the year. I just happen to like them in the spring and around easter. They can be made with whatever flavorful filling you desire. Bumped up cream filling like I’m doing with this recipe with fruit and chocolate. Some do a lite spiced with a hint lemon, maybe some fortified Italian wines. It’s your call, and my call are is to use anything that adds to spring like colors.
Now, as I was explaining to my friend Vicki Hunt, whether or not I make homemade and fried cannoli shells depends on two things: How hard do I want to work at these cannoli of mine, and where in the hell did I put my cannoli tubes from the last time I used them? I think she fully understood.
For recipe purposes today I am just going to discuss this…. wonderful… luxurious… delicious Cannoli filling that I use. There are actually two different fillings that I use in my cannoli. Again, another idiosyncrasy of mine, but I like to have options if options are a choice when it comes to food. Did that make sense?
So let me show you what I am talking about….
1 box Pre made Cannoli shells (6-8 cannoli shells)
15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
8 ounces mascarpone
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest, microplaned
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
small pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cups chopped maraschino cherries
- Remove your pre made cannoli shells and make sure they are nice and crisp. If I buy pre-made shells I typically go for a trusted brand. The brand I use are always nice and crisp and have great flavor…including a light hint of cinnamon, which is why I do not add cinnamon into my cannoli filling like some traditional recipes call for.
- In a mixing bowl add your ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese, and powdered sugar. With a spoon , hand held mixer, or whatever method you prefer, cream the cheese and sugar mixture together until nice and smooth.
- Add in the vanilla and almond extracts, along with the pinch of salt. Mix in the orange zest.
- Drain a mid size jar of maraschino cherries and place them on a paper towel. You can rinse them off if you like, but I think that rinses off the stand-out maraschino cherry flavor we come to expect along with the sticky sweet syrup. The paper towels will blot up any excess syrup. Dry the cherries as much as possible and remove the stems. Chop the cherries to confetti size pieces… enough to make around 1/4 cup.
- Divide the cheese mixture into two different bowls. Add the chocolate chips in one and the cherries in another. Mix both separately and place in the fridge to chill. Approximately 30 minutes, or until you just cant stand it.
- If you have two pastry bags with your choice of tips, then great. If not do the zip lock baggie trick (fill a large plastic baggie with the mixture, twist like a pastry bag forcing the contents to one of the bottom corners, snip off the corner of the baggie and pipe the filling into your shells). Fill one end of the cannoli shell with the chocolate, and the other end with the cherry.
- Place your filled shells onto a platter or plate, dust with powdered sugar, and maybe decorate the ends of your cannoli with extra cherry or chocolate.