Cannoli

Cannoli 7Cannoli is a dessert that originated in Italy. As a Canadian girl through and through, I actually hadn’t heard of cannoli except for in movies and TV. However, one of my best friends is Italian, and as such, her family has introduced me to a whole whack of Italian delicacies. Her sister is getting married at the end of the month, and her mother asked if I could make a bunch of cannoli for the dessert table.

Simply put, cannoli is a fried dough filled with a sweetened ricotta cream. Now, if that doesn’t sound appealing, please don’t just close the page! I, myself, am not a cheese fan. I like it on very few (and very specific) items, and I was hesitant about the filling being mostly ricotta cheese. However, even if you aren’t a fan of ricotta, I promise these will tickle your tastebuds.

Cannoli 10 The process is quite involved, and it did take me about 3 hours from start to finish to make these cannolis by myself. Still, do not let that deter you! I also had the help of pasta rollers to get the dough to that perfect thickness (which is almost paper thin!), and a countertop deep fryer, so I didn’t have to use a deep pan to fry.

Also, to help everyone out, I will be posting step-by-step pictures and instructions to help you out. The only thing I caution you is this – look around now for Marsala wine if you plan on making these anytime soon. It was extremely hard for me to find, and cannoli is very specific. Marsala wine is an Italian cooking wine, and it is what gives the dough its unique flavour. Totally worth it!

 

Ingredients

Yield: 3 dozen cannoli shells, approx. 1½ dozen worth cannoli filling

Shells:
3 c. flour
¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. shortening
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ c. sweet Marsala wine
1 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. water
1 egg white
1 quart oil for frying, or as needed

Filling:
1 32 oz. container ricotta cheese
½ c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. orange extract
½ tsp. triple sec
Chocolate chips (mini or regular – optional)
Chopped pistachios (optional)

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the shortening until it is in pieces no larger than peas. Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, egg yolk, Marsala wine, vinegar and water. Mix with a fork until the dough becomes stiff, then finish it by hand, kneading on a clean surface. Add a bit more water if needed to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. 

Cannoli 1

This is the dough after the refrigeration and before dividing and rolling. Divide the chilled dough into thirds, and flatten each one just enough to get through a pasta roller attachment. Roll the dough through the pasta rollers, progressively through each setting. I found my dough to be thin enough after going through setting 5.

Cannoli 2

 

Dust the dough lightly with flour to keep the dough from sticking together, and layer until all dough is rolled and thin enough.

Cannoli 3

Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a form, large glass, or bowl, cut out circles 4-5 inches in diameter. Roll the dough around cannoli tubes, sealing the edges with a bit of egg white.

Cannoli 4

In a countertop deep fryer, or a deep heavy skillet, heat the oil to 375°F. Fry the shells on the tubes a few at a time for 1-2 minutes, until golden, using tongs to turn as needed. Carefully remove using the tongs, and place on a cooling rack set over paper towels.

Cannoli 5

 

Cool just long enough that you can handle the tubes, then carefully twist the tube to remove the shell. Wipe off the tubes, and use them for more shells. Cooled shells can be placed in an airtight container. Only fill them immediately or up to 1 hour before serving.

Cannoli 6

 

To make the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the ricotta cheese, icing sugar, vanilla, orange extract, and triple sec. Whip until light and smooth. Use a pastry bag to pipe into the shells, filling from the centre to one end, then doing the same from the other side. Dust with icing sugar and place chocolate chips and pistachios on the ends for garnish when serving.

Cannoli 11

 

Advertisements

Cherry Pie

Are you ready for Cherry Pie? You should be! Strangely enough, I had never made or eaten cherry pie before I made this recipe. I was always hesitant to try cherry pie because I was afraid it would taste like maraschino cherries, which, coincidentally, I do not enjoy. I thought that cherry pie would turn out overly sweet, and not really showcase the cherry, just the sugar. Let me just say, was I ever wrong!

Cherry Pie 4Paul had gotten a huge bag of fresh B.C. cherries from the same co-worker who had given him the peaches, with the same request. Enough for two pies, so we get one as “payment” for the labour. I ended up buying one more bag of cherries, because Paul and I were invited to a little get-together with my fabulous friend Sandi, and decided to bring a pie. The cherries were beautiful, a rich, ripe red colour, and, as you can see in the above picture, some yellow cherries that I don’t know the name of, but were slightly more tart than the red cherries.

Cherry Pie 1As you can see, this was also Paul’s incredible crust-work. The crust I attempted did not make it into pictures, and I’m fine with that. The recipe for the pie filling though, I got from Annie’s Eats, and modified it slightly. You can find her original recipe here. The things I changed are relatively simple – she added a plum to the filling, and ended up pureeing some of the filling for more juice. I added the tart cherries instead, and added about 1 tablespoon of cherry whisky per pie, because I was making three pies. Finally, instead of using tapioca flour, I just used regular cornstarch. Even with these changes, the pie turned out beautifully.

Cherry Pie 2I don’t know how, but I managed to get a clean slice out of that dish, and for the first slice too! The first slice is always the hardest to get out, and usually comes out looking less than perfect. Still, I never thought I would be one to deviate from a recipe! Especially one as specific as this pie recipe was! Baking is quite organized and step-oriented, so I was a little leery to shy away from those very specific instructions. But have no fear, I did all the experimentation! If you choose to make this pie, and you should, you can follow my instructions and not have to worry at all! Now go and make some pie!

Cherry Pie 3Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

1 double crust pie dough recipe (like this one)
6 c. pitted and halved cherries
½ c. sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. cherry whisky
2½ tbsp. cornstarch, divided
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter, diced into small pieces
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. of water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400°F. To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, whisky, cinnamon and 2 tbsp. of the cornstarch. Mix well to combine, and let stand for 15 minutes.

While filling is sitting, roll out the pie crust to fit your pie dish. Make sure the crust is rolled out quite thin. To transfer the dough to the dish, fold the dough in half and then into quarters, loosely, move to the pie dish, and unfold and arrange. Trim the dough to fit the pie dish, and put aside remaining dough for the top crust.

Transfer the cherry mixture to the dough-lined pie plate. Dot with pieces of butter, and sprinkle remaining cornstarch over the filling and butter. Top with the remainder of the pie dough. Pinch the edges of dough together in a decorative pattern. Cut about 8 slits in the top of the pie for steam vents. Brush the top crust with the egg wash.

Place the pie in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn oven down to 350°F, and continue baking for 30-40 minutes, until crust is golden and juices are bubbling. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 2-3 hours so filling has time to set and thicken. Slice, and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

**If you are worried about the pie bubbling over in your oven and making a mess, place a baking sheet on the oven rack below your pie, or place the pie on the baking sheet directly. This will stop your oven from getting dirty from pie spillages.**

Flaky Butter Pie Crust

So, I gave you a recipe for a Peach Pie, but I didn’t give you the recipe for the pie crust, instead sending you off into cyberspace to use the recipe I do. Well, considering last night I made three (yes, three!) cherry pies, I figured before giving you the cherry pie recipe, I would give you my recipe and method of my pie crust. 

Flaky Butter Pie Crust 2Now tell me, doesn’t that crust look amazing?! That is also all of the sneak peek you get of the cherry pies I made until I post them. Still, it’s beautiful golden brown, and look at those edges! By the way, I can absolutely brag about the edgings, because I didn’t do them! Paul did. Of course, when you are going to marry a Red Seal chef, he does know more than just cooking skills! I tried my hand at the same crust technique, and didn’t do nearly as well. Good thing I tried on the pie we are keeping!

Anyways, I will again give you the link to the original recipe here. The only difference between the recipes, is that I can get a double crust pie out of this crust recipe, and the Allrecipes version says it’s a single crust pie. If you roll it out nice and thin, you definitely can get a double crust from the recipe.

This pie crust recipe has never failed me, and Paul actually told me he considers it the best pie crust he’s ever had. I don’t know about that, but I do know it is extremely simple, with only four ingredients, and it is extremely tasty and, as the name implies, flaky.

Flaky Butter Pie Crust 1I know the above picture doesn’t look too appetizing, but everything starts somewhere! Trust me on this, this pie crust is a winner!

 

Ingredients

Yield: 1 double crust pie

1¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, chilled and diced
¼ c. ice water

Fill a glass with ice and water, and store in the freezer until needed. In a medium size bowl, combine flour and salt and toss to blend. Using a pastry cutter, a stand mixer, or two knives, cut in the diced butter. (As a side note, make sure the butter is really cold! Our fridge keeps our butter nice and cold, but even throwing the butter in the freezer for 10 minutes or so is good too!) The mixture should resemble coarse sand, with the butter chunks no bigger than small peas. 

Take the ice water out of the freezer. Add in a tablespoon at a time (no more than that at one time!) to the flour mixture, and toss with a fork or mix in until well blended and starting to stick together. The mixture should form a ball. Usually, I use around 5-7 tablespoons of the ice water, but this amount can vary. Remember, you don’t want your dough too wet! The small increments of water help the dough to stick, and tossing it distributes the liquid throughout the dough.

When your dough is ready, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. If you are making pies that day, put in the freezer for 1 hour. I do this every time, because I never have time to make the dough in advance. If you pop the dough in the freezer for an hour, the butter gets a chance to re-harden and it makes the pie crust that much flakier when you roll it out. Never freeze for longer than an hour, unless you want to keep some pie dough in the freezer for the future. 

Roll out the dough nice and thin, large enough to fit a 9-inch pie plate with overhang all around. Trim off the excess, and then roll out for the top of the pie, and repeat the process, or cut into strips for a lattice crust.

Peach Pie 2