Sicilian cannoli with ricotta filling (Cannoli Siciliani)


I do love Sicilian Cannoli: crispy shells filled with a sweet sheep ricotta cheese cream. They belong to the traditional Souther Italy cuisine- the best ones? From Sicily, definitely! Several combinations of ingredients make them a varied but always gorgeous sweet. 

According to my recipe, making the filling is much easier than preparing the crispy shell, so if you can’t make it, I will suggest you a few “mates” which combines amazingly with our filling. 

cannoli siciliani

Cannoli fit a special snack as well

Sicilian Cannoli may be considered a kind of street food, it is filled to be eaten immediately (the same as the ice cream). Keep in mind that it is quite rich in calories, so have it occasionally, it is a snack you can’t have every day. Allow it yourself occasionally when you want to spend quality time with those you love. Although the content of sugar is quite high, a cannolo every then and nw won’t spoil your every day eating routine and you will appreciate this delicacy even more if you have it only on special occasions. Then,  you may have a lighter meal if you want to balance your daily calorie intake.

The best ones I have ever eaten?

Two places in Sicily come to my mind: one in Taormina, where a pastry chef is used to filling fresh cannoli behind his street stall. The second is a gorgeous pastry shop in Ortigia, called “I cannoli del Re”, where the shell was not typically cylindrical but it was a kind of cone filled with delicate soft ricotta cheese cream.

cannoli siciliani

What are the cannoli filled with?

All the ingredients can be easily found in any supermarkets- go the extra mile if you can buy good sheep milk at a local farm. Ideally, cannoli should be filled with sheep ricotta because it is softer and sweet. If you can find it, use cow milk ricotta, but it must be fresh, made the day before, or buy a packaged one. Ricotta cheese must be consistent-if it is too liquid, the cream will “leak out” the cannoli. If you get the chance to see the preparation of ricotta, do not use it if you a kind of yellowish buttermilk sediments on the bottom of the container because it may have an unpleasant sour taste.

Can you replace ricotta with mascarpone?

Not definitely. Mascarpone and any other cream cheese are too fat. Ricotta is the most protein part of the mill, it is very light and low calorie. Only a little heavy cream may be added in order to make ricotta denser and richer. Nothing more!

Sicilian cannoli with ricotta filling (Cannoli Siciliani)

I am quite familiar with Sicily because I went there on my honeymoon travel and I have also had  some conferences- it reminds me of a very mouthwatering sweet: Cannoli, a crispy shell stuffed with sheep ricotta cheese, sugar, and chocolate chips. 
Something you don't expect, full of tradition, it will taste local culture. If you go on holiday to that place, please try freshly made Cannoli, you will never be able to forget them! 
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cannoli siciliani
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 10 cannoli


Ingredients for the filling 

  • 500 gr sheep ricotta
  • 150 gr sugar
  • a few drops

    orange flower water

  • 40 gr

    dark chocolate chips

The shell

  • 300 gr flour
  • 2 tbsp

    cocoa powder o coffee powder 

  • pinch of salt

  • 40 gr sugar
  • 60 gr butter
  • 2 glasses

    white wine or Marsala 


  • Place the flour on a pastry board in the shape of a volcano. Put all the ingredients, except the butter, in the middle of the crater and start kneading vigorously; 
  • When the dough is partially formed add the softened butter; knead until all the ingredients are well combined, wrap in cling film and set aside in the fridge to rest; 
  • Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and bend it into three parts, and then roll it out again in a very thin sheet; 
  • Make 10 cm circles and roll them around cannolo forms (tubes which give the cannoli their traditional shape): the sides should overlap. Brush the seams with lightly beaten egg to seal them;
  • Fry into boiling oil;
  • Slide the cannoli shell off the form and fry for little time again until evenly cooked; 
  • Dried the shells on paper towel; 
  • Mix the ricotta, 4 or 5 drops of orange flowers, the sugar, and the chocolate chips. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes;
  • Squeeze the filling into the shells with a pastry bag, and dust with powdered sugar.
  • You may replace the orange flower water with pinch of cinnamon, and some candied fruit, if you do not like chocolate chips. 

What can you do if you have any filling left?

It is the perfect afternoon snack for children who play sports and spend a lot of energy, or for a cold cheesecake. Well, the filling is a delicious snack on its own: get ready with a spoon! 

Consume the filling in short time, and do not freeze it because the liquid will separate from the solid part and spoil the cream. Store it in the fridge for a couple of day-when it gets yellow, it has gone bad.

italian cannoli

Assemble the cannoli

You have prepared the filling, and the cannoli are ready-put everything together just before eating them, otherwise the shell will get soaked! It won’t be a real Sicilian cannolo. Put the ricotta cream into a pastry bag and fill the shells. Now, set your imagination free, and garnish them as you like most. Sprinkle the ricotta cheese which comes out the shell with pistachio or hazelnut crumbs and a piece of candied orange or cherry. A little dusting sugar, and it is a done deal!

And if you can’t make the shell?

Do not get frustrated: you may prepare a “dismantled cannolo”. In a cup mix the ricotta cheese cream, the chocolate chips or the candied fruit, and top with crushed ice-cream cone you buy at the supermarket, or in an ice-cream shop.

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