Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daring Baker Challenge: Cannolis

Okay, so first off... I'm not really great when it comes to frying foods. Frying foods is just really finicky because you have to make sure you have the oil hot enough that the food will cook. My past experiences with frying have usually ended up in failure and a very inedible piece of food. The "fried" foods usually end up burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside, or they end up soaked in oil and just soppy and gross. However, for this DB Challenge I was determined to make sure my oil was the perfect temperature so my cannolis would turn out ... edible. So, with no further adieu... here is the DB November Challenge recipe for Cannolis.

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.

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time: Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes (including resting time); Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more); Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli; Assembly – 20–30 minutes

Ingredients for Cannoli Shells:
- 2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp (28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
- 1 tsp (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp (~3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
- 3 tbsp (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
- 1 tsp (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup (~59 grams/4 fluid oz/125 ml) sweet Marsala or any available white/red wine
- 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/2 liters)
- 1/2 cup (~62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish (optional)
- Confectioners' sugar (optional)

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 (Thanks to Audax).

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 cut out 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, 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.

I decided to make the chocolate flavored cannoli shells and they turned out fantastic. The taste was not too subtle and not too bold as to detract from the filling that I was planning on using. For my filling I went very simple and used a honey-sweetened cottage cheese with mixed-berry syrup. Although the dessert tasted delicious and the frying was actually a success, I was a little disappointed with the thickness of my cannolis. While I did allow for the dough to rest for about 5 hours before rolling it out, I simply couldn't get the shells to stay thin as I rolled them onto the cannoli shaping tool. Alas, I ended up with a silly looking little cannoli taco with cottage cheese filling... oh well.

With the left over dough I decided to make a couple of those cute little twisted cookies. They were much easier to shape then the cannolis and it still packed the amazing chocolaty taste. I would definitely use the dough recipe again, although I may just use it to make cookies instead of cannolis as I'm not a big fan of the tedious nature of having to shape them. Onward to next month's challenge... I can't wait to see what's lined up for the Christmas season.


Audax said...

Woe lovely looking cannoli and well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Australia. Your cannoli is so blistered and warty LOL LOL

Sue Sparks said...

You're too hard on yourself; it looks like you did a great job on the cannoli! Also, CONGRATS on the DB feature:)

(Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting!)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Nice cannoli, but what I love are the twisted cookies! Cool!