Cannoli Alla Siciliana

After spending two weeks in Heavenly Sicily  i lost count of the number of Cannoli i enjoyed during my trip. Needless to say that a good Cannolo should

ALWAYS be filled with the ricotta just moments before being eaten in order to prevent the shell to become soggy.

The Sicilian cannolo is one of the most famous Italian sweets in the world. Contrary to what most people believe, these delicious ricotta-cream filled wafers have been around for a long, long time. During his time spent in Sicily as a Roman queastor, Cicero fell in love with a predecessor of the modern cannolo. He described the dessert as a tube stuffed with a sweet, milk-based filling.

According to some accounts, however, the creation of modern cannoli came as a result of the Arabs who once controlled Sicily. This satisfying sweet was likely created inside a Muslim harem in the city of Kalt El Nissa, modern-day Caltanissetta. In this harem, the women spent their time preparing this delicacy.
In fact, it may very well have been on of these women who modified a preexisting Arab dessert made with ricotta, almonds and honey to fit Cicero’s description. In doing so, she created what is now known throughout the world as Sicilian cannoli.

Below i am happy to share with you our ORIGINAL recipe for a perfect Cannoli. Do not be afraid. It is not a difficult dessert to make. However, you need to make sure that all the ingredients (especially the ricotta) are fresh and as good as they can get. I would try and get your cheese from a local farmer rather than at the store.

Let us know how they turned out.

Buon Appetito Amici!

For filling

Cannoli alla Siciliana

  • 2 lb ricotta cheese, (preferably from sheep)
  • 1 lb sugar
  • milk to taste
  • vanilla to taste
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 3 ½ oz mixed candied fruit, diced
  • 3 ½ oz dark chocolate, chopped


  • pistachio, reduced to grains
  • confectioners sugar

For the wafers

  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 1 oz sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ oz butter
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Marsala wine, or Rum
  • lard, or frying olive oil to taste


30 minutes preparation + 30 minutes cooking

To make the crispy wafers, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, melted butter and eggs in a bowl. Then add the Marsala, or if you prefer, the rum. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth, then wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for half an hour.

Roll out the cannoli dough and cut it into squares, about 4 inches per side. Then wrap the squares around the metal tubes to shape the cannoli. Fry the dough, still wrapped around the tubes, in a large pot of boiling lard or olive oil. Let the cannoli cool on paper towels. Once cool, slide out the metal tubes.

To make the ricotta-based filling, with a fork the ricotta and sugar, adding a bit of milk and a dash of vanilla extract and cinnamon. Pass the mixture through a sieve and blend in diced candied fruit and bits of dark chocolate.

Fill the crispy dough with the ricotta filling and sprinkle the crushed pistacchio nuts over the ends (or you can sprinkle shaved chocolate) . Sprinkle the outside with powdered sugar.


The cannoli should be filled right before serving: after a few hours they tend to become soft and lose that nice crunchiness which is the main feature of this dessert’s deliciousness and attraction.


2 comments on “Cannoli Alla Siciliana

  1. Karen
    October 29, 2011

    The Cannoli are picture perfect. I like that you added cocoa to your wafer recipe.

    • Gabe Bertaccini
      November 5, 2011

      Karen, thank you! YES, YES, YES! Cocoa works great. Do you make your own Cannoli often? Where do you get your fresh ricotta?

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