The Daring Bakers November 2009 Challenge: CANNOLI
November is my second challenge and I was just counting the hours on the day it would be revealed! ;-)
When I opened the forum I read in the topic line: "sorry all, we are not baking this month..." and for a moment this month's host Lisa Michele had me fooled. I really thought "oh no, and what now, I was so looking forward to it", haha, great way to start a topic and to get some vivid pupils, Lisa ;-)
But the challenge of the month, deepfrying cannoli, wasn't a disappointment at all!! I had never made cannoli before, I don't think I would ever have tried it if it wasn't for this month's challenge.
It looks rather difficult and fancy and also the deepfrying part is not something I would do voluntarily. I do like deepfried food, a lot actually ;-) but the mess it makes in your kitchen and the afterwards feeling you have of "being a member of the bomb-squad", well not really my favourite. But I just did it this time, deepfried, made a huge mess and cleaned it all!! ;-) :-D
I have to say that it is not that difficult to make these wonderful sounding and tasting cannoli. The doughmaking went pretty fast and was also, after a day in the frigde, very easy to handle. The frying took me more time to do it right and resulted in about 10 quite dark (you can also call them "burned" ;-) ) cannoli but eventually I had some nice looking cannoli shells! I could still see that the oil was too hot though because my shells didn't have (only some tiny ones ;-) ) the real Cannoli blisters... but well, hopefully next time I'll get it right!
I didn't fill them with the traditional filling, ricotta, but with my own choices (and according to what the supermarkets have around here ;-) ). I tested them on my family and they thought the cannoli were absolutely delicious. It was a big hit and they already ordered them for Christmas, I am not sure if I have to be happy about that ;-) I also really liked them by the way, and yeah I will certainly make them a next time, but only this time in someone elses kitchen ;-) :-D
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
250 grams plain flour
28 grams sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cacao powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
approx. 125 ml Marsala or any other sweet red/white wine
1 large egg, seperated, you need the egg white
Vegetable oil for deepfrying
Filling to your choice :-)
Combine in a bowl the flour, sugar, cinnamon, cacao and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar and wine. Use just enough wine to make a soft dough, I used all the wine by the way. Knead the dough for about 2 minutes till it's smooth and well blended. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 2 hours. I already read that a couple more hours would only make the dough easier to handle, so I made it the day before and left it overnight in the frigde.
Now comes the mess-your-kitchen-up part ;-)
Make sure by making the cannoli that you keep the rest of the dough covered in plastic wrap, otherwise it can dry out really fast.
Roll a piece of your dough out on a bit of flour until really thin. Cut out with a cutter (bowl or big glass) of about 10-12 cm large. Wrap the dough around your tubes (we made them ourselves by buying an rvs tube and sawing it into small pieces) and stick the dough together with a bit of egg white (I hadn't read it well so I used the whole egg, went just fine ;-) ). Make sure that your tubes are well greased so the dough won't stick to them after baking!
Meanwhile you fill a deep saucepan with vegetable oil and heat it until a temp of 190ºC, that was a bit of a problem here, because I don't have a thermometer and despite the breadpiece- trick (a small piece of bread has to brown in 1 minute) the first dozen of my cannoli burnt :-( So the right temperature is really important! Or otherwise just keep the temp a bit lower than 190ºC.
Put in about 3 to 4 cannoli tubes at the same time and fry the shells until golden, for about 2 minutes said the recipe. Mine were down in about 1 minute. Lift them, with a large spoon or something like that, out of the oil and carefully remove the tube from the shell. This was a lot easier than I expected but you have to make sure that the tubes are very well greased! Let the tubes cool before using them again with the next batch of shells, they cool off really fast by the way! And this is the result (I left out the burned ones :-D)
If you want to watch a video on how to make the dough and fry the shells, the ones from Mario Batali of Epicurious.com on Youtube are really good!
The shells taste the best if you make them only a couple of hours in advance, don't fill them just before serving them! Otherwise they will get soggy and you really don't want soggy cannoli ;-)
The traditional filling is made with ricotta cheese (let it drain overnight), mascarpone and sugar with a bit of cinnamon. I couldn't find any ricotta overhere so I just chose the fillings that seemed nice to me :-)
These are filled with mascarpone and lemon curd with a compote of forest fruits, excellent choice ;-)
The second choice of filling was whipped chocolate-hazelnut ganache and I dipped the cannoli generously in the rest of the caramelized hazelnut chunks :-)
The last filling was white chocolate cream with Cointreau with dark chocolate chips (chunks ;-) ).
By the way, don't worry if you don't have any cannoli tubes, you can just bake them in any form you like. Make circles and make a small cake of it with lots of filling and layers, make nice forms with cookie cutters or if you want the "real" shells you can also use a new broom stick cut into pieces, the wooden spoons you use (used ;-) ) or buy a tube at the hardward store and let them cut it into small pieces :-)
I wish you all a happy Cannoli-time!