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.
My cannoli were made according to Lisa Michele's recipe without any changes, given that I really only had a vague idea what cannoli were and had certainly never tried them before. I only made a half batch of shells, using Marsala, and quartered the given ricotta filling recipe, which contained chocolate, orange zest and nuts. The ends of the cannoli were dipped in chopped chocolate and mixed chopped nuts, respectively.
Here is my cannoli dough prior to rolling into submission:
I took the plunge and deep fried my cannoli shells, just as the recipe intended. I am scared witless of deep frying, but I survived intact, despite all of the protesting, popping and spitting from the oil in the pan. Despite my kitchen measuring 29 degrees Celsius on my digital thermometer, I wore a light weight cardigan while frying the shells so that I had some protection for my arms in the event that the pan spat too vehemently and caught my limbs. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to control the oil temperature that well, and some of the shells ended up a little on the dark brown side.
The shells blistered like they were supposed to, which made me feel justified in christening the pasta machine that had previously lived for 5 years unopened on the top of my kitchen cupboard to ensure that my dough was ultra thin. I understand from my research that ultra thin dough is required to obtain blistering of the shells. Here's the pasta machine in action:
And here are my unfilled but fried to perfection (errr - or a little more) cannoli shells:
I am proud that they turned out warty and ugly, just like they're supposed to. And as for taste - well, once filled with ricotta, they were delicious! When I bit into the crispy shell, it shattered and gave way to the moist, smooth filling inside, with a curious combination of flavours and textures that somehow seemed just right.
Thanks to Lisa Michele for being our host this month and introducing me to something entirely new (oh yeah, and making me conquer my fear of the deep fryer). You can get the recipe I used from Lisa Michele's post. To check out the many creative varieties of cannoli dreamed up by the other Daring Bakers, visit the blogroll at The Daring Kitchen.