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.
If you know me well, then it is no secret that I am a bit of a Christmas fanatic. I know it may seem strange for someone my age to get so excited about Christmas, but who can resist all those warm and fuzzy feelings that are invoked at Christmas time? I feel like a child again when the first snow falls, reminding me of the love and warmth that surrounds you when you spend time with the ones you love. It is irresistible to me and I can’t help but get excited. A holiday dedicated to peace, joy and love. What could be better?
This year I get to go home for Christmas. In fact, I am already here. I was not able to bring my camera equipment with me so things are going to be looking a little different around here over the Christmas Holidays. But, not to worry, there will be lot’s of goodies to go around with the “Dear Mrs. Claus” post sshowing up on Mondays, featuring all of your wonderful Christmas recipes. (If you are interested in submitting your Christmas photos visit this post) And, I will be doing Christmas interviews with some of my favorite bloggers. In the New Year I will be up and running again with my photos and recipes, but for now I thought it quite fitting to share the love and goodies from other bloggers. That’s what the season is all about right?
Being that I will not be able to post all the Christmas recipes that are spinning around in my head, I could not resist squeezing one in before I left for home and the Daring Bakers Challenge provided the perfect opportunity. Therefore, traditional Cannoli became Cannoli Christmas Trees. They are layered with raspberry, white chocolate and pistachio ricotta fillings and spruced up (ha) with icing sugar snow and pomegranate lights. I think they’re pretty cute. And, tasty too. :)
I made my own ricotta for this challenge and have linked to the recipe below. I use this recipe often as it is so simple to make and I find it cheaper and fresher then store bought. It is also helpful because you can make the amount needed so there is no waste.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Season and are able to sit back, relax, and enjoy time with ones you love.
Cannoli Christmas Trees
- cannoli stars (large and small)
- raspberry ricotta filling
- white chocolate ricotta filling
- pistachio ricotta filling
- pistachios, chopped
- icing sugar
- Place one large cannoli star onto serving plate. Top with raspberry ricotta. Top with another large star and add a dollop of white chocolate ricotta. Top with one more large star and top that with pistachio ricotta. Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios and stick a small cannoli star into the ricotta point side down.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar and pomegranates if desired. Serve immediately.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar*
- 1/2 cup wine (Marsala is what is traditional used)*
- Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying (2 inches deep)
- 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.
- Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour work surface 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 4 inch star shapes as well as 2 inch star shapes. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for several minutes to help keep the dough from shrinking.
- In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C), 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.
- Dock the cannoli with a fork, making sure to go all the way through. This is to avoid the cannoli from puffing up in the centre. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli stars into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry until lightly golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly. Remove to paper towel lined tray to cool.
* I substituted the wine with apple juice and upped the vinegar to 1 Tbsp to make up for the lost acidity.
Raspberry, White Chocolate & Pistachio Fillings
- 1 cup dry ricotta (or half this recipe)
- 2/3 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp. each, chopped pistachios, chopped white chocolate, crushed raspberries
- Cream together ricotta, sugar, cinnamon and zest until smooth.
- Whip cream to soft peaks and fold into ricotta.
- Divide into 3 bowls. In one bowl fold in pistachios, in another fold in white chocolate, and in last fold in raspberries.
* If you want more vibrant colors feel free to add some food coloring.
* You can use fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries for this filling.