OK, here's the deal. I've always wanted to be a good cannoli maker. I grew up on Staten Island. My people are from Brooklyn. My first job was at a pretty popular Italian bakery. I mean, this should be in my DNA. But I never could make those shells. I tried. I gave up. I took a class at the Institute of Culinary Education. There were about 15 people in the class, a couple of them who baked/cooked for a living. We made delectable cannoli cream. Brilliant cassata. And pretty much every one of us made awful cannoli shells. Seriously. Awful. More Chinese won-ton than Italian cannoli.
So I panicked a little when Lisa Michele announced to The Daring Bakers that her challenge would be cannolis. But armed with chutzpah and a pasta maker, I decided to try again.
And I failed again.
I was a really pressed for time and I think my dough sensed that I was trying a little too hard. On Thanksgiving eve I had to surrender.
I decided to turn to the Italians.
I know, I know. I'm a total cheat. I'm the Milli Vanilli of the baking world. And Lisa Michele's hosting the challenge. She's a baker! She's a Yankees fan! I could not let my bloggy friend and kindred spirit down. So I picked myself up by the bootstraps and to make it up to her I made my own ricotta cheese from SCRATCH on Thanksgiving morning. I even used her recipe.
Click here to check out the recipe. It's really, really true: If you can boil water you can make ricotta! I can't wait to do this again.
The yield is really minimal -- four cups of milk reduced down to this:
There was quite a bit of liquid left, and I think the next time I will use the remaining strained milk to make a bread pudding so I'm not so wasteful.
I toasted and chopped some pecans to dress my cannoli, in lieu of the more traditional pistachio.
Does this mean I'll never try cannoli shells? I'm no quitter. Just like the bubbles on Lisa's picture-perfect shells, I too shall rise.
PUMPKIN CANNOLI FILLING
2. Fill the shells as directed above. I dipped the ends of the shells in caramelized sugar and rolled them in toasted, chopped pecans.