Cannoli is a tasty dessert that has lots of options for suiting your own tastes and exploring your creativity. So wrap your cannoli around something super delicious - the perfect ricotta filling.
A Versatile Filling Ingredient
Ricotta cheese is one of the most versatile cheeses you can find. From appetizer to entrée to desert, ricotta travels across your menu with style, but where ricotta cheese really shines is in cannoli. Any filling recipe will feature ricotta, which is a naturally low-fat cheese similar to cottage cheese but lighter in flavor and texture.
Prepare Ricotta for Filling
Before making your filling, you need to prepare your ricotta so it has the creamy texture found in cannoli.
- Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth.
- Place the trainer over a bowl and put the ricotta in the strainer.
- Cover the ricotta with plastic, and put a plate on top of the ricotta and several cans of food on the plate to serve as a weight.
- Refrigerate for eight hours or overnight. Discard the liquid that has collected in the bowl.
Begin With the Basics
Cannoli filling, sometimes called cannoli cream, is one of those recipes that starts out simple, but you can alter it according to your tastes. The basic recipe contains ricotta, sugar, and a touch of vanilla extract. That's all you need for a tasty filling, but who wants plain when fancy is just a spice rack away.
Easy Cannoli Filling
The ricotta cheese used in the filling should be prepared as noted above. You'll end up with just about two pounds of filling.
- 2 pounds of prepared ricotta cheese, well drained
- 1 ½ cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Place the ricotta in the bowl of your stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth, three to four minutes.
- Add the sugar and beat until fully incorporated, one or two minutes more.
- Add the vanilla.
- This can be held for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Since any filling will cause your cannoli shell to get soggy eventually, it is best to fill your cannoli shells no more than four hours before serving them.
If you want a more creative and flavorful cannoli filling, try the following:
- Add the zest of 1 orange, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg, and replace the vanilla with an equal amount of rum flavoring. Fold in 1 cup of raisins, dried apples, or golden raisins after you're done beating in the sugar, spices, and rum flavoring for a fall harvest cannoli.
- Add the zest of a lemon and a teaspoon of lemon extract. Don't add the vanilla. This makes a bright, flavorful lemon cannoli. Of course, you can use any citrus zest/extract combination for various flavors of citrus cannoli.
- Add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and replace the vanilla extract with mint extract to make chocolate mint cannolis.
- For a zippy cannoli, add two tablespoons of candied orange peel, finely chopped, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped, candied ginger to the filling. Fold it in after beating in the sugar and vanilla.
- Fold in a cup of mini chocolate chips after beating in the sugar and vanilla.
Tips and Tricks
When making cannoli, consider the following:
- You can also use your cannoli filling to fill cream puffs.
- If you have some martini glasses handy, you can layer the cannoli filling with fresh fruit to make an attractive and refreshing dessert.
- Be sure to use confectioners' sugar because it will dissolve better in the ricotta. Regular granulated sugar will give your filling a grainy feeling.
- Mascarpone cheese can be used as a substitute for ricotta in this recipe; it will not have to be drained.
A Master of Dessert
Above are just a few of the many options for cannoli filling. With a little creativity, you can make really delicious desserts that impress your family and loved ones.