Chocolate and Pistachio Cannoli
Italian cake

Creative Biscuit Filling With Chocolate and Pistachio Cannoli

It is impossible to resist the sweet delight of these famous Sicilian pastries. Originally from Palermo, the name comes from the canna comune (“giant cane” or “reed”) once used to roll up and fry the cannoli dough.

Chocolate and Pistachio Cannoli

40 minutes preparation time
15 minutes cooking time
Makes 20 cannoli


  • 250 g (9 oz/1 1/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 30 g (1 oz) sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 100 ml (3½ fl oz) dry (fine) Marsala or sweet white wine
  • 2 egg whites
  • 30 g (1 oz) butter, melted and cooled

For deep-frying

  • 2 litres (70 fl oz/2 cups) peanut oil

For the filling

  • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz/3 1/3 cups) ricotta (preferably sheep’s milk)
  • 150 g (5½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 pinch vanilla seeds
  • 50 g (1¾ oz) candied orange peel pieces
  • 70 g (2½ oz) dark chocolate (buttons or chopped)
  • 30 g (1 oz) blanched unsalted pistachio nuts, chopped


Place the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. Create a well in the centre and pour in the Marsala, one egg white and the cooled melted butter. Knead for 5 minutes using an electric stand mixer, or for 10 minutes by hand, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave to rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Using two large bowls, push the ricotta through a sieve twice so it is smooth and creamy. Add the sifted icing sugar and the vanilla and mix together well. Chop the pieces of candied orange peel, leaving about 10 whole for decoration. Mix the chopped peel and chocolate into the ricotta. Refrigerate until required.

Take a third of the dough (leave the rest covered with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out) and roll it out very thinly on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 1–2 mm ( 1 /16 inch). Cut out 12 cm (4½ inch) circles, stretch them a little using your fingers and roll each circle around a cannoli mould. Overlap the ends and stick them together with a little egg white.

Heat the peanut oil in a large, deep heavy-based saucepan to 170°C (325°F), or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil turns golden in 20 seconds. Fry 3–4 cannoli at a time, turning with a slotted spoon, until golden brown. Remove the cannoli from the oil, carefully slide off the moulds and drain on paper towel.

Fill a piping (icing) bag fitted with a large, plain nozzle with the ricotta mixture. Fill the cannoli just before serving and decorate with pieces of candied orange peel and chopped pistachios.


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