Chestnut Chocolate and Hazelnut Cannoli

Yes, it’s this time of the month. And the current Daring Bakers’ challenge is Italian cannoli hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives, who chose the recipe from 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. The dough recipe was mandatory but the filling options were left entirely up to the bakers.

My filling was a mixture of chestnut puree, fresh ricotta, mascarpone, grated bittersweet chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and a bit of dark rum. This is what I used for stuffing the traditional cannoli shells.

I also fried larger in diameter, cylinder-shaped shells, so I could play a little. Into the bottom of these shells I fitted the circle cut-outs of chocolate-chestnut cake. I topped them with almost the same chestnut filling mentioned earlier, but lightened with some whipped cream to make the consistency more mousse-like. The very last layer was bittersweet chocolate ganache.

Lisa, thank you very much for the delicious challenge! We all (well.., everyone who can eat nuts) loved it!

Happy Holidays!

Makes about 4 dozens 4-inch cannoli (with pasta machine method)

For the cannoli shells:

  • 2 cups (250 g/16 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (28 g/1 oz) sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 g/0.06 oz) unsweetened baking cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ tsp (1.15 g/0.04 oz) ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (approx. 3 g/0.11 oz) salt
  • 3 tbsp (42 g/1.5 oz) vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 tsp (5 g/0.18 oz) white wine vinegar
  • Approximately ½ cup (approx. 59 g/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 g/2 oz) toasted, chopped hazelnuts nuts for garnish (optional)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling (optional)

For the chestnut filling:

  • 8 oz unsweetened chestnut puree
  • ¼ cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 8 oz fresh ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 oz toasted hazelnuts, coarsely ground or finely chopped
  • ½ cup cold whipping cream (optional, if you want to lighten the cheese mixture)

Make the shells:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make 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.

For hand-rolling:

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.

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, uhh, 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 the 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.

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 360°F 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.

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.

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.
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.

For pasta machine method (I highly recommend it):

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through.

Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

Cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.

If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.

Make the filling, fill the cannoli:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chestnut spread, sugar, and salt and process until smooth, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the ricotta and continue processing until the mixture is smooth again. Add the mascarpone, rum, and vanilla and pulse until well combine. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the grated chocolate and hazelnuts.

If the ricotta was well-drained, the consistency of the filling should be just right for immediate piping.

If it’s not, place it, covered, in the fridge to firm up.

If you wish to lighten the filling, make it more mousse-like consistency, whip the cream until medium peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in about a quarter of the cream into the cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining cream. Transfer the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch tip. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. Serve IMMEDIATELY!

If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.

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64 Responses to “Chestnut Chocolate and Hazelnut Cannoli”

  1. These look beautiful. I really adore the the cannoli-cake ones! And perfect dissection might I add :D

  2. chestnut? I love them and I love what you did with the challenge. your shells look delicious.
    But your dessert version is breathtaking. Wow.

  3. You must be kidding chestnut puree, fresh ricotta, mascarpone, grated bittersweet chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and a bit of dark rum it sounds so delicious well done and the photographs are so beautiful and elegant. You are so tanlented and clever. Marvellous work Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  4. Amazing!! love the shells…filling sounds so good yumm!! beautiful photos! can i have some! =)

  5. good day

    it is the first I leave a mesage here… couldnt hold my self.
    the cannoly’s are just perfect, what a lovely sight, bravo !!!

  6. What a nice recipe, your photos are so beautiful!!! I’d like to taste (no… eat them all!)

  7. Your cannoli are really stunning and the filling sounds super delicous. Great work!

  8. Yours has got to be one of the prettiest I’ve seen so far! I love how you got them so round and the picture where you show the insides of the cannoli = just amazing!

  9. Wow, cannoli with chestnuts… I love chestnuts, these must be delicious.

  10. Double wow – love your regular cannoli and especially love the cylinders you did! Wish I had inspiration like this! Stunning!

  11. how can one eat anything that looks so darn beautiful

  12. really beautiful and I think really tasty too !!

  13. Absolutely stunning! Great job!

  14. Absolutely stunning! Your cannoli shells look perfect, super thin and crispy, lovely blistering. The filling also sound incredible and I love your cannoli “cakes”, very inventive.
    Beautiful photos :)

  15. Yum the chestnut filling sounds delicious!

  16. Magnifique ! cette garniture est des plus gourmandes ! c’est un défi absolument fantastique que tu as réalisé :)

  17. Wow, your dessert version of cannoli is absolutely breathtaking and sounds so so delicious! How inventive!

  18. Beautiful!! now I think I should have done larger shells as well… very elegant!

  19. Meravigliosi!!!!! Wonderful :-)

  20. All I can say is repeat what everybody else said already – perfect, stunning, beautiful!

    As always :)

  21. Gorgeous! I love the layered cannoli shells standing on end with the different fillings! Yum.

  22. Wow, I am amazed! As usual, you didi a great job! I really love the larger diameter ones. Fantastic!



  23. Absolutely amazing! Your presentation is simply divine… worthy of the greatest sicilian pastry chefs! Brava!

  24. Simply spectacular! I love the “vertical” cannoli, what a great idea!

  25. Wow – so cool what you did with the cake! And the flavors sound wonderful!

  26. These look gorgeous! Especially the cake ones! And your filling sounds fabulous. I think I need to try that recipe at some point.

  27. You’re a very talented lady, that looks so elegant and delicious.

  28. WOW!!
    Your cannoli looks amazing
    they are perfect
    I love the hazelnut and chestnut combination
    Definitely super!

  29. AMAZING!! You have definitely lifted the simple cannoli to a whole new level. I love the different textures of the fillings, e.g. the cake, then the mousse, then the ganache, I just know that this combination would taste fantastic. It also helped that your photos are absolutely gorgeous.

  30. Wow, how beautiful! What patience! I found the dough rather tough to work with and didnt have much time, so mine were a bit crappy. Its definitely because I’m not particularly excited about the prospect of cannoli but yours look so delicious I feel I should maybe give them another try. Mmmm hazelnut chestnut!

  31. What perfect cannoli. Your filling sounds so delicious.

  32. Oh I simply adore chestnut AND hazelnut. Gorgeous photos and I love that cake stand!

  33. What a wonderful idea – the cannoli cake.. :) Beautiful images and great ideas for the filling…

  34. OH Vera, your chestnut cannoli are not only gorgeous and one of the most unique in this challenge, but those cut out circles of chestnut chocolate cake inserted into the shells along with that luscious chesnut chocolate hazelnut rum filling is SO beautiful and creative, and one I want to try more than anything! LOVE how you ‘sealed’ the ends with chocolate ganache! Once again, you’ve made my eyes bug out and my mouth look like this as I stare in awe —-> :>O! I am bookmarking this, pronto! Thank you so much for deep frying with me this month!

  35. YUM, gorgeous work!! LOVE the cake-bottomed cannoli towers — those look especially scrumptious!

  36. Delicious! Those chestnut cannoli look super! What a great combination! I used your fabulous recipe for marscapone! It was delicious. Thank you!

  37. As always, just amazing, Vera. I can’t say enough good things.

  38. Wow! Original and stunning presentation. I love the flavor combination and I really love the idea of turning the cannoli on its side and putting a little round of cake on the bottom. So clever . . .

  39. I think what I like the most about these challeneges is seeing how creative everyone gets with them.
    Love your take on this challenge. Your cannoli are awesome.

  40. The cannoli cakes are so creative! I wonder why I’ve never seen that done before, because I would definitely order that if I saw it on a menu.

  41. Vera, these are absolutely awesome. Your cannoli looks great and I especially like the cannoli cake version. Truly amazing!

  42. Oooh, so pretty! Wow, you just keep turning out wonderful works of food art. Bravo!

    (I still haven’t gotten to these yet, ugh…)

  43. Wow! Those look so pretty!

  44. Wow! These look absolutely amazing! Well done!

  45. Your cannoli stacks are just stunning! Wow!

  46. Thank you, everyone, very much for your wonderful comments! I greatly appreciate it! Thank you!!!

  47. Love the alien looking cannoli and the cross-section shot. With the flavours of the filling, bet that these would have been a treat!

  48. Wow Vera! These cannoli are just beautiful and perfect. You are one amazing lady!

  49. Your cannoli are impressively beautiful. I especially like the last picture, where you brought the traditional cannolo to a whole new high end level!

  50. these. look. amazing. WOW!

  51. Awesome, Such a fantastic presentation, I love your “vertical” cannoli! Your chesnut filling sounds delicious.

  52. You did a beautiful job on your cannoli! I love your pics too!

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  53. Holy moly, they look and sound delux!!!!

  54. Vera, just beautiful, as always. I love the inclusion of chestnut. So festive for this time of year.

  55. Whaou! never saw some so beautiful even here! congrat!

  56. chestnt, chocolate and cannolli, three of my favorite things in th world, these look amazin, cant wait to try them, wel done! cheers from london

  57. Thank you all so much for the comments! You are very kind!

  58. Love your cannoli cylinder ‘cakes’. An amazing show of creativity! Brilliant pictures, as usual!

  59. Amazing result and beautiful photos as always
    Love your performance,
    And the flavors combination is superb!
    (also a DB)

  60. This looks delicious! I love your photos! Happy Holidays!

  61. Oh my those look delicious! I have never made cannolis before but these are making me want to! Beautiful pictures! Terri

  62. Awesome looking recipe!

    What can be used apart from chestnut puree?

    It is unavailable from my country.

    Thank you!

  63. I can’t wait until I try this recipe….but can anyone tell me what I can substitute for the cannoli tubes…I read somewhere once that cannelloni’s are good substitute…

  64. Wow!!! Definitely, a treat to die for… I am drooling!!!!!

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