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Pumpkin Cannoli

Pumpkin Cannoli

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The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge is being hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using two different 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 and changes to this Pumpkin Cannoli recipe, so it is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Pumpkin Cannoli

We were both on the same page that I was a bit crazy for taking on this cannoli baking project for Thanksgiving, especially since I have never made cannoli,  We knew it could be a big risk especially since we would be serving it to a large group.  

The recipe seems to involve a lot of steps but the most challenging was finding cannoli forms.  Last minute I found them at Sur La Table.  Rest of the ingredients were very easy to find and to work with. 

Don’t be scared of this recipe as most of the steps are options for you – you can make the cannoli shells circular or square to make a stacked version.  As well there is a completely doing it by hand version or using the pasta machine.  The decision is entirely up to you.  As always reach out with any questions – we are always happy to help!

Working as a team definitely made making this recipe easier.  One person was in charge of rolling and cutting circles and placing on cannoli molds, while the other gently fried them too perfection. 

Keeping with the Thanksgiving theme we made a pumpkin filling, which was light and fluffy, as well as not overly sweet.  Move over Mike’s, there is a new cannoli in town! 

Such a fun challenge and so glad we were brave enough to give it a try.  Definitely will be making again!

* we had the leftover filling which froze nicely into a creamy ice cream


Cannoli forms/tubes – optional, but recommended if making traditionally shaped cannoli. 
Deep, heavy saucepan, enough to hold at least 2-3-inches of oil or deep fryer
Deep fat frying thermometer
Metal tongs
Brass or wire skimmer OR large slotted spoon
Pastry bag with large star or plain tip, but a snipped ziplock bag, butter knife or teaspoon will work fine.
Cooling Rack
Paper bags or paper towels
Pastry Brush
Fine wire mesh strainer
Electric Mixer, stand or hand, optional, as mixing the filling with a spoon is fine.
Food Processor or Stand Mixer – also optional, since you can make the dough by hand, although it takes more time.
Rolling pin and/or Pasta roller/machine
Pastry or cutting board
Round pastry dough cutters (The dough can also be cut into squares and rolled around the cannoli tube prior to frying. If making a stacked cannoli, any shaped cutter is fine, as well as a sharp knife)
Mixing bowl and wooden spoon if mixing filling by hand
Plastic Wrap
Tea towels or clean flour sack towels

Recipe:  Pumpkin Cannoli

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes

CANNOLI SHELLS – if you do not want to make you can use pre-made shells
2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar

Note – If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cutout circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, the position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep-fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 – 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

Pumpkin Filling


2 cups ricotta cheese, drained
2 cups mascarpone cheese
2 cups canned pumpkin, drained
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 whole vanilla bean seeds

How To:

Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight. 

Do the same with the canned pumpkin.

In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy.  Add in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, spice, and vanilla bean seeds and blend until smooth.

Transfer to a smaller clean bowl. 

Chill until firm, several hours or overnight.


When ready to serve …

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner.

Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

If making a stacked version, lay a cannoli shell on serving plate, top with some filling and then another cannoli shell, and then repeat once or twice more.  Top with filling and the toppings below.

Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

More Cannoli Recipes to Try

Traditional Homemade Cannoli 

Strawberry Cannoli

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Tuesday 1st of December 2009

You did a beautiful job on your cannoli. I love the pumpkin filling.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go


Sunday 29th of November 2009

I'm so glad you both enjoyed this chllenge, and your perfect... gorgeous cannoli certainly demonstrate that! Truth be told..I preferred my pumpkin filling over the suits the cinnmaon(y) shells so well. Thank you BOTH so mch for deep frying with me this month!

Joan Nova

Saturday 28th of November 2009

A perfect holiday cannolo (I normally would have said cannoli until I read your post). I'd love to try it with a pumpkin flavored filling.


Saturday 28th of November 2009

Good job on these! The shells look absolutely perfect!

Julia @ Mélanger

Saturday 28th of November 2009

Love the blistering on your shells! :)