...but don't worry, this just means that we deep-fried stuff instead!
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 only contact with cannoli before this month's Daring Bakers challenge has been through the (often unfunny) sitcom "Everybody loves Raymond", where cannoli seems to be a favorite of the dad's. I had no idea how it was made and what was in it. Here's what our host Lisa Michele told us about this dessert:
Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts.The challenge had a lot of leeway: no need to make tube-shaped cannoli, no need for deep-frying, no need for sweetened ricotta filling. At first I had planned to make one batch of traditional cannoli, just to see how it tastes, but as the reveal date crept closer, it became clear that there wasn't enough time for finding cannoli tube substitutes and making ricotta. So we just went completely untraditional and made a sort of Italian-British fusion version: Banoffee Cannolipoleons!
The inspiration is of course the classical Banoffee pie. We made flat, deep fried disks from the cannoli dough (ok, not only disks, we also went a bit crazy and started playing with our animal shaped cookie cutters to make bunnies and elephants!), which were then stacked with the traditional banoffee pie ingredients: bananas, dulce de leche (boiled condensed milk), and whipped cream.
This was extremely rich but very yummy! The flavor of the cannoli reminded us of traditional ice-cream cones/wafers, but it was a bit more crunchy. We have a lot of leftover cannoli, so in the near future we'll probably experiment with different fillings, including traditional cannoli filling but in the cannolipoleon form.
This was a fun and quite easy challenge, although it took some trial runs before the deep-frying yielded perfect results. We chronicle some of our cannoli-making experiences in the recipe below. The full, original recipe can be found at the Daring Kitchen recipe archive. Thank you Lisa Michele for a fun challenge!
This recipe yielded us 25 round, flat cannoli (diameter 5 cm), 7 bunnies and 3 elephants!
For the shells:
125 g all-purpose flour
14 g sugar
2,5 g unsweetened baking cocoa powder
0,6 g (1/4 tsp) ground cinnamon
1.5 g salt
21 g vegetable or olive oil
2,5 g white wine vinegar
Approx. 30 grams sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand*
You can do the dough in a stand mixer/food processor or by hand, we made it by hand.
Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. We had to add a bit more juice (wine) in order to get a soft, uniform 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.
*We didn't have any suitable wine at home (we were not cranking open a bottle of Amarone for this), so we followed the suggestions on this page. Instead of grape juice, we used lingonberry juice (keeping it local), and substituted the brandy with cheap whiskey. If you don't want to use alcohol at all, Lisa Michelle suggests cranberry, pomegranate or apple juice. If using only juice, you might need to add a bit more vinegar to make the dough acidic enough to relax the gluten strands.
After letting the dough rest, use either a rolling pin or a pasta machine to make the dough paper thin. We used our pasta machine and it worked really well - see this picture:
Paper thin dough coming out of the pasta machine.
The dough is stubborn at first, but keep working it and it will give in. Use cookie cutters or a knife to cut the dough into the desired shapes. Dock the cannolis lightly, this will keep them from ballooning up in the hot oil.
Heat vegetable oil in a heavy sauce pan (or use your deep fryer if you have one). We used about 4 deciliters of oil. Heat the oil to 175-190°C. Other Daring Bakers' experiences says that it's better to use hotter oil. Deep fry the cannoli, about two at the time. They should be golden brown and blistered. Place the deep-fried cannoli on paper to get rid of excess oil. Let them cool.
To get the cannoli to hold their shape while deep-frying, Markus gave this kind of macabre tip: "Hold them down beneath the surface of the hot oil using the skimmer until there's no more bubbles. It's kind of like drowning someone". So, here's our cannoli bunnies drowned in hot oil:
Maybe an idea for suicidal bunnies?
When you have fried all your cannoli and it has cooled, it's time to make the banoffee cannolipoleons. For this you need:
1 can condensed milk
Place the can of condensed milk unopened in a pot of water. Bring to a boil, and let it boil for 2-3 hours, refilling the pot with water when necessary. The water should always cover the can. When it has boiled, the condensed milk will have turned in to creamy, caramel-tasting dulce de leche. Let the can cool completely before opening. Since boiling and cooling takes a while, you might want to do this the day before.
Stack banana slices, cannoli disks, dulce de leche and whipped cream to make cannolipoleons. By the way, this was how the above-pictured cannolipoleon looked when we had dug our spoons into it... Yummy!