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Recipe for Homemade Pistachio Cannoli

 Alexander Roberts

Lasagna, pizza, and risotto may be some of the most popular Italian dishes, but did you know that pastries in Italy can lay claim to being just as good as the ones made in France? In Italy during the 17th century, convents were the most popular bakeries, and nuns sold fancy treats to the public through barred doors or slotted windows. When many recipes and literature were destroyed during the Dark Ages, nuns held onto their cherished pastry formulas, and we have them to thank for some of our most iconic pastries today. Nuns were the primary suppliers of elaborate pastries until the 19th century.

Cannoli originated in Sicily, and they’ve always consisted of a signature tube-shaped pastry case that gets fried up and filled with a sweet cream. Traditional Sicilian cannoli is often filled with a sheep’s milk ricotta, but we’re going to use a deliciously easy mascarpone filling for our recipe today. Once filled, the pastries can be garnished with candied fruit, almonds, or chocolate chips, but this recipe uses pistachios. Best eaten the day they’re made, these sweet cream treats are light enough to follow a big Italian meal. While they do require deep frying, they are worth the effort and they cook in just a few minutes. Let’s make some pistachio cannoli!

Grab the ingredients for homemade pistachio cannoli…

ingredients for pistachio cannoli

Step 1: Add pastry ingredients to a food processor

cannoli ingredients in food processor

Add flour, sugar, salt, and butter to a food processor bowl. Pulse 15 seconds.

Step 2: Add wine and egg yolk to form the dough

forming cannoli dough

Add wine and yolk and pulse 1 minute, until a crumbly dough forms.

Step 3: Knead the cannoli dough

kneading cannoli dough

Knead the dough on a clean work surface for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Rest the dough for an hour

resting cannoli dough

Cover the dough with plastic and let it rest for 1 hour.

Step 5: Roll the cannoli dough

rolling cannoli dough

Roll the dough into a ⅛-inch thick, 5-inch wide strip.

Step 6: Cut circles of dough

cutting dough circles cannoli

Use a 3-inch cutter to cut 8 circles out of the dough, rerolling if necessary.

Step 7: Heat the oil for frying

heating oil for cannoli

Preheat the oil to 350 F in a large pot.

Step 8: Grease the cannoli tubes

greasing cannoli tubes

Lightly grease cannoli tubes with cooking spray.

Step 9: Form the cannoli shells

shaping cannoli tubes

Wrap each dough circle around a cannoli tube and firmly press the overlapping edge to seal.

Step 10: Fry cannoli in batches

frying cannoli shells in oil

Fry cannoli shells in batches for 3-4 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown.

Step 11: Drain and cool the cannoli shells

cooling fried cannoli

Let the shells drain and cool briefly on a wire rack, then remove them from the tubes.

Step 12: Make the mascarpone filling

mixing cannoli filling

Add mascarpone, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a mixing bowl, and whip until thick and creamy.

Step 13: Melt the white chocolate chips

melting white chocolate chips

Melt the white chocolate in a microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each.

Step 14: Dip the cannoli in white chocolate

dipping cannoli in white chocolate

Alexander Roberts/Look

Dip both ends of each cannoli in white chocolate, then in pistachios, and let them set for 10 minutes.

Step 15: Fill cannoli shells with cream

filling cannoli with cream

Alexander Roberts/Look

Add mascarpone cream mixture to a piping bag and pipe it into each cannoli.

Step 16: Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve

pistachio cannoli with powdered sugar

Alexander Roberts/Look

Sprinkle with more pistachios and powdered sugar and serve.

Homemade Pistachio Cannoli Recipe

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Pistachio-encrusted cannoli have a crispy pastry shell filled with a velvety mascarpone and whipped cream mixture and finished with white chocolate.

Prep Time
2
hours

Cook Time
15
minutes

Servings
8
Cannoli

homemade pistachio cannoli recipe

Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup raw pistachios, finely chopped
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Directions

  1. Add flour, sugar, salt, and butter to a food processor bowl. Pulse 15 seconds.
  2. Add wine and yolk and pulse 1 minute, until a crumbly dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough on a clean work surface for 5 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic and let it rest for 1 hour.
  5. Roll the dough into a ⅛-inch thick, 5-inch wide strip.
  6. Use a 3-inch cutter to cut 8 circles out of the dough, rerolling if necessary.
  7. Preheat the oil to 350 F in a large pot.
  8. Lightly grease cannoli tubes with cooking spray.
  9. Wrap each dough circle around a cannoli tube and firmly press the overlapping edge to seal.
  10. Fry cannoli shells in batches for 3-4 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown.
  11. Let the shells drain and cool briefly on a wire rack, then remove them from the tubes.
  12. Add mascarpone, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to a mixing bowl, and whip until thick and creamy.
  13. Melt the white chocolate in a microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring between each.
  14. Dip both ends of each cannoli in white chocolate, then in pistachios, and let them set for 10 minutes.
  15. Add mascarpone cream mixture to a piping bag and pipe it into each cannoli.
  16. Sprinkle with more pistachios and powdered sugar and serve.

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Can I make cannoli without metal tubes?

homemade pistachio cannoli

Alexander Roberts/Look

The signature tube shape of cannoli means that they can be generously filled and easily eaten in a few bites. You can order metal cannoli tubes online — they should be four to five inches long and made of stainless steel. You can get a set of 4 for less than $10, so if you want to make cannoli often we recommend purchasing a set. Since cannoli are fried, it can be dangerous to try to hack a replacement for the metal tubes, which are designed to withstand high heat and sit in hot frying oil safely.

If you don’t have tubes and want to try a hack, you can make a replacement out of folded aluminum foil to use in the same fashion as the recipe indicates. Use a generous coating of cooking oil and when you’re moving the cannoli shells around in the pot be sure to use tongs for safety. However, if you think you’ll be making cannoli on a regular basis, we strongly recommend using real cannoli tubes for the best outcome.

Can cannoli be made in advance?

pistachio cannoli on plate

Alexander Roberts/Look

Since frying and filling a batch of cannoli can become quite the project, you might want to get ahead of the curve and make them in advance, which is perfectly fine. Once fully formed, these pistachio cannoli should last at least 1 to 2 days in the fridge. In time, however, their crunchy shells will soften due to moisture from the filling, so if you want the best cannoli we recommend serving them the day you make them.

Since they’ll soften in the fridge when fully assembled, you have a few options for getting a start on the recipe without compromising their texture. You can make the cannoli dough up to a day in advance and leave it wrapped in the fridge overnight — just bring it back to room temperature before frying or it may take longer. You can also make the filling up to 2 days in advance and have it ready to go. The last option would be to fry the cannoli shells up to a day in advance and leave them in a loosely covered container overnight, and then fill them the next day right before serving them.

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