There are those who consider Clemenza’s memorable post-hit utterance in The Godfather— “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”—one of those regrettable moments in popular culture that undermine the image of Italian Americans. But more enlightened types recognized it for great screenwriting—and as an incredible image boost for an already great dessert.
Makes 12 cannoli
4 tsp (20 mL) sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) shortening
pinch of salt
1 small egg
2 tsp (10 mL) white wine
2 tsp (10 mL) dry marsala
¾ cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour, sifted
½ cup (125 mL) buffalo ricotta, drained in cheesecloth for 24 hours
4 tsp (20 mL) fresh goat cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) 2% milk
3 tbsp (50 mL) icing sugar
3 drops vanilla
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of grated lemon zest
½ cup (125 mL) mascarpone
Canola oil for deep-frying
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (500 mL) semi-sweet (52%) coating chocolate, warm (optional)
Metal cannoli rounds (about 5½ by ½inch/13 by 1 cm)
Combine the sugar, shortening, and salt in a bowl. Work together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the egg and combine. Add half the white wine and half the Marsala, follow with half the flour, and mix thoroughly with the spatula. Repeat. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to rest for at least 3 hours.
Meanwhile, for the filling, in a medium bowl combine the ricotta, goat cheese, and milk; work together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the icing sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and lemon zest, and combine again. Finally, add the mascarpone, and whip with a whisk until the mixture forms peaks. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cannoli dough as thinly as possible, as if it were a sheet of pasta. Cut the dough into rectangles about 3 by 5 inches (8 by 13 cm). Stack the rectangles with small sheets of parchment paper in between them until needed (they can be refrigerated or even frozen this way).
Fill a cast-iron skillet to a depth of about ¾ inch (2 cm) with the canola oil and heat it to 375°F (190°C). Working with no more than 6 cannoli tubes at a time, lubricate the tubes with a little more canola oil. Wrap a rectangle of dough around each tube, brushing the inside edge of the overlap with the egg wash so that the dough stays firmly in place. Carefully transfer the tubes to the hot oil and fry, turning, until the shells are brown and crisp, about 45 seconds. Remove to a bed of paper towels to drain. When the tubes are cool, carefully slide off the cannoli. Repeat until you have 12 shells or all the dough is used.
To finish, if desired, dip one end of the shells in the coating chocolate, and then set aside on a parchment paper – lined baking sheet until set. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe it into both ends of each cannoli until it is filled. Sprinkle the cannoli with icing sugar and serve.
Substitution: You may use a top-quality cow’s milk ricotta in place of the buffalo variety.
Tip: If you have a pasta machine, do not hesitate to use it to roll out this dough—it works brilliantly.