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Sicilian Cannoli..mmmmm

Posted in cucina, entertaining, Features, and recipes

cannoli-21.jpgcannolieditor:Joseph McVeigh 

copyright,2008, Maria Liberati


After dinner recipes the last two weeks, it’s time for dessert. Being that desserts always seem better in numbers, this Famous Recipes article will not only feature a dessert and its reason for fame (as if desserts need one), but also two ways that the dessert is closely tied to Maria Liberati and her cookbook.

First, the dessert is none other than cannoli, possibly the most famous after-dinner meal to come from Italy. Originating in Sicily, these treats consist of sweetened ricotta with spices encased in a fried pastry tube and date back almost 1,000 years.

Second, cannoli most famous cultural reference comes through a novel turned movie. The film is none other than The Godfather and the line in question comes as advice to a character that has just committed murder. In a memorable scene, he is told simply, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Priorities, fellas.

What both of these have to do with Maria Liberati is that cannoli are a specialty of Italian-influenced South Philadelphia, the place where Maria says her passion with food began ( South Philly is home to many places offering cannoli, some of the most famous being Varallo Brothers, Isgro’s, and Termini Brothers Bakery. The Italian Market may be one of the best ways to spend the day in Philly, but a cannoli is certainly the only way to top it off.


1 lb. ricotta cheese (preferably freshly made)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa), grated

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate(minimum 70% cocoa) chopped
12 to 14 pre-made cannoli shells
3/4 cup finely chopped pistachio or hazelnuts

    1.Place ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in food processor or mix with hand mixer until almost smooth. Stir in the grated chocolate. Cover and chill up to 6 hours.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small double boiler pan, melt and stir the chopped chocolate over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl. Dip both ends of the cannoli shells in chocolate, letting excess drip off. Sprinkle chocolate ends with pistachio nuts. Place on a wire rack placed over waxed paper to dry for about 45 minutes.
    3. Spoon filling into a decorating bag fitted with a large round or open star tip (or spoon into a resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag). Pipe filling into shells. Cover and chill up to 2 hours. Makes 12 servings.(P.S. If you want to make a lower calorie version- choose part skim or fat free ricotta and substitute ½ cup powdered sugar with artificial sweetener)

For more great recipes, get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking  at


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