Though cows’ milk ricotta is generally used in the U.S. for making cannoli, Sicilians prefer the richer, sheep’s milk variety.
These Sicilian treats are one of America's favorite Italian pastry.
Yield: makes 24
For the Filling
- 3 cups sheep’s milk ricotta
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 cup minced candied citron
For the Shells
- 2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 Tbsp. butter, cut into small cubes
- 5 Tbsp. sweet marsala wine
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil
- Chopped pistachios or candied citron, cut into small slices, for garnish
- For the filling: Put ricotta, sugar, vanilla, and minced citron into a medium bowl; stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
- For the shells: Put flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add butter and work with fingers until mixture resembles fine meal. Add marsala and 1 egg and mix until dough can be formed into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and silky, 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for 2 hours.
- Divide dough into 8 balls. Run 1 dough ball through a pasta machine on its widest setting, then repeat several times, gradually moving to narrower settings, until it can be run through at the narrowest setting. Transfer to a clean surface and cut out three 4″ circles; discard scraps. Cover with a towel and repeat with remaining dough balls to make 24 circles in all.
- Pour oil into a heavy medium pot to a depth of 3″ and heat over medium heat until temperature registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, wrap each dough circle around a 1″ × 4 3⁄4″–long cannolo core, sealing ends with a brushing of egg, and fry until light golden brown, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly. Slide shells off cores; let cool completely.
- To assemble: Transfer filling to a pastry bag; pipe into both ends of each shell to fill. For garnish, dip ends of each cannolo in chopped pistachios or sliced citron. Serve immediately.