Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mini cannoli bites

Pretty much immediately after I moved to Boston, I learned about one of its more popular dessert destinations - Mike's Pastry. Known for its generously filled cannolis (in assorted flavors) and lobster tails (a flaky pastry filled with cream), there are almost always lines pouring out the door at this bakery.

I, of course, made a visit and tried one of their famous cannolis. I have to say, it does live up to the hype, although I found the amount of cannoli filling a little excessive. I think I would have preferred it with less.

The opportunity for me to attempt cannolis arose this week when I helped with cooking an Italian meal for one of my student groups. Others contributed pasta from scratch and fresh pesto, while I tried my hand at cannolis. I was concerned with making the cannoli shell - the dough usually needs to be rolled and deep fried, two things that I generally dislike doing.

This recipe for cannoli cups was the perfect answer to that. It still involves rolling out and cutting dough, but they only need to be pressed into mini muffin tins, so no shaping involved. Plus, they are baked, but sprayed with oil before to give it that crispy-fried effect. Best of all, the shape of the cups makes it so that the ratio of shell to filling is more favorable - no more overflowing cannolis!

There's a lot of freedom in how you decorate these. You can dip the edges in chocolate (white, milk, dark, take your pick) and roll them in sprinkles or cinnamon sugar, which is what I did. You could also do nuts - pistachio would great with these!

The result? A perfect bite that's not too sweet and not too excessive. The ideal dessert for finishing off a great Italian meal!

Mini cannoli bites (makes ~40-48 bites)
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy)

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2½ Tbsp (31 g) white sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup (4 Tbsp) butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • 6 Tbsp orange juice (any fruit juice would work)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 12 oz Ricotta cheese (whole milk, strained)
  • 8 oz Mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup (60 g) powdered sugar
  • Toppings - mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, etc. 
  1. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together and mix in a stand mixer on medium speed until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Add in melted butter and continue mixing until combined. 
  3. Add in egg white and continue mixing until combined. 
  4. Mix juice and vinegar together and slowly add into mixture. Continue mixing just until the dough begins to form. Add more juice/vinegar if it is too dry; add more flour if it is too wet. 
  5. Chill dough for one hour. 
  6. Make the filling in the meantime. Whip Ricotta and Mascarpone cheese together together in stand mixer until combined and then fold in the powdered sugar. Chill filling for 30 minutes. 
  7. Preheat oven to 400F. 
  8. Roll out dough on floured surface to about ⅛ inch thickness and cut 2½ inch circles from the dough. Press circles into mini-muffin tins to form cups. 
  9. Spray the tops of the cups with cooking spray and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool. 
  10. Melt chocolate in microwave and dip the edges of cups into it, followed by sprinkles or cinnamon sugar or whatever you want. 
  11. Pipe the filling into the cups and top with mini chocolate chips. 
  12. Enjoy!

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