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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.

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes

CANNOLI SHELLS
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar

CANNOLI FILLING
2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
1. 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.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board 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 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3. Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well oiled.). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, 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 or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

6. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

7. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:
1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:
1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

Let’s just say this challenge was a labor of love. If you’re looking for an upper-body workout,  just give rolling this cannoli dough a try. It wore me out, but not before I forced it into submission. 🙂

Instead of purchasing cannoli forms, my dear husband fashioned some for me by cutting a wooden dowel (1-inch in diameter) into 4-inch long pieces. I oiled the wooden forms liberally with vegetable oil and they worked like a charm.

As you can see, I chose a sweet filling for my cannoli – a traditional ricotta filling with mini chocolate chips. Whether your sweet tooth is jonesin’ for more tasty confections or you’re in the mood for some savory cannoli, venture over to the Daring Bakers’ blogroll and take a peek at what the rest of the gang’s up to. Have a great week!

Update: After checking out some of the other Daring Bakers’ cannoli, I felt mine were a little too “vanilla”. I used the same filling, but dipped the ends of the cannoli in chocolate. Here are my jazzed up cannoli – white chocolate & pistachio, white chocolate with mini chocolate chips, chocolate & coconut, and last but not least, chocolate with candied orange peel. The kitchen stills smells citrusy, ahhh!

I’m a day late (no surprise there) and a dollar short. Actually, quite a few dollars short after making Dorie Greenspan‘s chocolate caramel chestnut cake. The ingredient list for this cake is a whopper, but so worth it!

Consider yourself warned – this is quite possibly the richest, most sinfully decadent cake ever baked. If your self-control is hanging by a thread (as mine always seems to be), then read no further because there is no way you’ll be able to resist this delectable masterpiece.

We have Katya of Second Dinner to blame thank for this Tuesdays With Dorie temptation. All joking aside, great choice, Katya. And how seasonally appropriate!

I began to fret when I couldn’t find sweetened chestnut spread with vanilla through any of my local retailers and of course I waited to the last minute to do my shopping so purchasing it online was not an option. Luckily, April of Short + Rose came to my rescue with a recipe for homemade chestnut spread:

7.4 oz. jar of chestnuts
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Thanks, April, it worked like a charm!

There are 4 – 5 elements to this cake (depending on whether you use storebought chestnut spread or make your own), all of which can be made ahead of time allowing you to work on it in stages. As I may have mentioned before, I am a glutton for punishment. So, did I make any of these elements ahead of time? No. Did I do my shopping in advance? No. Instead, I decided to run around town like a mad woman scrambling for obscure ingredients the day of our 2nd annual pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner. Crazy!

At any rate, I was able to procure everything I needed, make all five elements of the cake, make three dishes for the potluck, and even squeeze in a trip to the salon for a new ‘do before the party. Be wise and do as I say, not as I do. Next time, I’ll make the ganache and glaze in advance.

Speaking of the ganache, it is to die for. Somehow, I managed to limit myself to licking only the spoon and the mixing bowl. Yes, for one brief moment I was a shining example of self-control. Then, I made the glaze and indulged in more spoon and bowl licking. So much for restraint! But perhaps my favorite part was painting the chestnuts with edible gold dust. I felt like a professional baker for a minute there. I wish! Well, a girl can dream…

The cake was a hit at the party! My guests were quite intrigued by the gold chestnuts and more than a little impresed I do believe. While this is not a cake I’ll bake frequently, this recipe is one I’ll keep for those occassions where I’m looking for some “wow factor”.

You can find the recipe on Katya’s blog and, as always, spread some love to my fellow TWD bakers by visiting our blogroll.

Since Thanksgiving is upon us, I’d like to take a moment to express my gratitude for the blessings in my life. I’m thankful for my husband/sous chef/photography assistant, for our family and friends, our sweet pups, our health, and our home. This year perhaps more than ever, I’m aware of just how blessed we are. I’m also thankful to be amongst such friendly, talented, creative, and knowledgeable bakers and I look forward to baking with you all throughout this holiday season. I wish you all…

Happy Thanksgiving!

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie is also a Tuesdays With Kevin as he was instrumental in baking Dorie‘s All in One Holiday Bundt Cake which was selected by Britin of The Nitty Britty. I apparently lost my mind Sunday night and thought it would be a great idea to make this cake while making sushi for the first time. Crazy!! Never fear, husband to the rescue. He slices cranberries in the blink of an eye, chops pecans faster than a speeding bullet.

I doubted this cake could compete with last week’s fabulous cran-apple crisp. Boy, was I mistaken! If you’re finalizing your Thanksgiving Day menu, make sure there’s room on your table for this festive bundt cake. The maple icing embodies all that is wonderful about this time of year. It just makes me want to throw on a scarf and go for a walk with the husband & pups on a brisk Autumn morning as the few remaining leaves rustle in the trees. Oh, how I love Fall! But I digress…

I cannot emphasize enough how much you need this recipe so hop over to Britin’s right away. Wanna see what the rest of the TWD gang is up to? Then, check out our blogroll.

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next Tuesday? It’s a recipe I have been dying to make ever since I first laid eyes on the mouth-watering picture in Baking: From My Home to Yours…Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake! Thank you, Katya, for choosing this drool-worthy chocolate cake. Now I’ll be singing The Christmas Song the rest of the day. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose…”

Daring Cooks sushi challenge

I have been wanting to make my own sushi for quite some time, but I hadn’t been able to muster up my courage. Lucky for me, I’m a Daring Cook. The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

The challenge consisted of four parts: 1) sushi rice, 2) dragon rolls, 3) spiral sushi roll, and 4) nigiri sushi. After investing an hour and a half just to prepare the sushi rice, I vowed never to complain again about the wait at my favorite sushi joint.

dragon roll

Smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado…need I say more? Although my “dragon” has a face only a mother could love, I’m still proud of it. Who cares about looks when it tastes so good, anyway?

spiral sushi roll

The spiral roll was the most challenging of them all for me. Actually, I have a confession to make – I enlisted the help of my gracious husband on this one. I committed a rookie mistake and overfilled my spiral roll. I know, I know…less is more. But you should know how hardheaded I am by now.

nigiri sushi

I used sashimi grade tuna for both the spiral roll and the nigiri. The nigiri proved to be the easiest for me as it does not involve rolling, but rather a hand-shaped roll. Next time, I will forgo the thin line of wasabi on top of the rice that binds the sashimi to it. Let’s just say, husband and I will have no sinus issues for the next decade. 😉 I rounded out the meal with a little seaweed salad and some miso soup (thank you, Fresh Market!).

If you want some full on food porn complete with fantastic sushi recipes, visit Audax and Rose. As if that’s not enough to satisfy your hunger, check out the rest of the gang on the blogroll. Join me Tuesday for a very festive bundt cake that’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

I bet you thought I’d abandoned my blog, huh? No way, not even an option. I have, however, been waging war against my laptop which has suddenly gone rogue. At any rate, here is a two-for-one Tuesdays With Dorie post…on a Saturday night.

Sugar-Topped Molasses Cookies

Laurie, our fearless leader at Tuesdays With Dorie, has given us a wonderful gift this month…the gift of flexibility! Laurie posted all of the November recipe selections in advance and gave us the go ‘head to post them in any order we’d like [the crowd erupts in wild applause!].

I chose to start November off with the Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies Pamela of Cookies with Boys selected. These cookies are warm, homey, and reminiscent of gingerbread (but with a kick!)- perfect for this time of year. Want the recipe? Come on, we all know you do…so here it is.

Cran-Apple Crisp

Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef chose Dorie’s Cran-Apple Crisp. This is a delightfully simple, comforting dessert. I used fresh cranberries – their tartness is irresistable – and golden raisins. Gorgeous!

You should must add this to your autumn recipe collection, so head over to Em’s place for the recipe. While you’re at it, be sure to check out the Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll to see what my fellow bakers are cooking up. The rest of the month’s going to be just as sweet, so come back…if you can handle it. 😉

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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