Lo Cicero's Cannoli

This recipe is for a very large amount of cannoli - about 20. Adjust accordingly.

1/2 gallon of milk, plus 2 cups
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 pounds fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate, grated
2 ounces candied cherries
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 pound butter
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons cold water
Shortening, for deep frying, as needed
2 ounces pistachio nuts, finely chopped
Confectioner's sugar, as needed

Equipment needed: Several 6-inch lengths of well sanded unpainted broom handle, a 4.5" x 6" oval pattern cut from heavy cardboard, and a pastry cutter.

For filling, mix together milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt with a wooden spoon. Stir over medium heat until mixture thickens to a custard. Remove from heat; add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cool overnight in refrigerator.

Mix ricotta with cooled custard and fold together in mixer. Add chocolate, candied cherries, and extra vanilla, if desired. Reserve.

For shells, sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender. Combine vinegar and water and blend in 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface; knead. Wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat shortening to 360 degrees in large, deep saucepan or deep fryer. Roll chilled dough 1/8 inch thick on floured surface. Using cardboard patter and pastry cutter, cut ovals from dough. Wrap dough ovals loosely around broom handle pieces, lapping the edges, and pressing to seal dough together. Drop dough-wrapped sticks gently into hot fat; do not crowd. Fry about 8 minutes, until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove and drain on paper towels. 

When dough has cooled slightly, slip shells off sticks. Let cool completely, then stuff with filling. Sprinkle ends with chopped nuts. Dust cannoli with confectioner's sugar.


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