Cannoli Cake

One of my all-time favorite treats are cannolis.  There is something about that crunchy sweet shell and the creamy filling that are the perfect combination of flavors and textures (although I can do with out the candy peel or other "chunky" additives that can make their way into the filling).  The all-around best cannolis EVER come from an Italian bakery in Schenectady, NY - Villa Italia.  (This store is also home to the best gelato & pasticiotti & eclairs & cakes... yes, I am a bit of a fan).   

At this point in my life, I have ruled out making cannolis from scratch because:

1) I am not an "individual kind of dessert" kind of girl.  I rarely have the patience for things that require individual attention (which is why you don't often see me doing things like cookies or biscuits).

2) Cannoli shells have to be deep-fried.  Deep-frying is another one of those things I just don't "do" (although, I am sure I may eat my words on that someday). 

3) I am aftraid of not being able to get it "just right" which would forever ruin my future enjoyment of this treat.  Once I started trying to make them, I would have to keep trying until I was happy with the result and I would never be able to eat one without trying to figure out how I could do it better at home.  I know it sounds crazy, but I have done this before.  So for the sake of my personal sanity, I run far, far away!

So... when I saw the King Arthur post for Cannoli Cakes and the related comments I thought to myself "Hey self, instead of making fussy little individual desserts - you could turn this into a cake" and then I thought "Hey, these aren't cannolis, but maybe it will have the flavor that you like".  Little patries - not so much.  A big, fat cake... THAT, I can manage.  So, I fiddled around with the recipe and here is the result. 

Two vanilla "pound-style" cakes

A pistachio based filling. 

Chocolate-ganache goodness.

One big yum.

The final verdict - one most excellent dessert (for some reason, the script from Wayne's World is running through my head), but I must confess it just doesn't take me to quite the same place as a little, crunchy cannoli would have.  I will make it again, but I guess I really need to find a new name for it, because the term "cannoli" does not apply. 

In summary:

Taste A+
Ease B+
Likeness to a cannoli C

Cannoli Cake (Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Cannoli Cake recipe)

6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Fiori di Sicilia
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec) for brushing

Ricotta Topping

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup whipping cream, whipped and chilled
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped salted pistachios

Chocolate Ganache

7 oz chocolate (preferably 70% cacao or higher)
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4-1/2 cup confectioner's sugar


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 8" pans with cooking spray, line with parchment paper (be sure to grease the top of the paper as well). 

Beat the eggs, sugar and salt & flavorings on medium high speed for 5 minutes (until thick). Gently fold in the melted, cooled butter and flour until no lumps remain. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden brown on the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven.  Remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool, don't leave them in the pan as they will steam and get soggy.  Cool completely.
Gently brush each cake with some of the orange liqueur and repeat until all liqueur is used up. Prepare the filling while the cake is in the oven. 

Combine the ricotta, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium mixing bowl until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios until evenly incorporated.  Refrigerate for at least one hour. 

Spread ricotta filling over bottom cake layer.  Place second layer.

Prepare ganache - heat chocolate & butter in microwave (15-20 second cooking intervals, stir between each heating session) until just melted.  Stir in espresso powder & confectioner sugar.  Cover assembled cake with ganache. 

Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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