The week I decided to do my cooking for the Daring Bakers Challenge wasn't the best of weeks.
My son was just getting over a cold. My husband was just starting his, and I was having little manifestations of a cold that I ignored 'till the hubby was almost all better. I didn't do much when it came to posting that week and a half, because I was trying my best to take care of my sick boys, one after the other. This also contributed (amongst other reasons) to me not being able to participate in the Daring Cooks Challenge for this month (But I WILL make the sushi I swear when I can and I will post!) which I was looking forward to. (Just so everyone knows, no one is sick anymore, YaY!)
So I definitely tried to make up for the whole thing by making sure to get my Daring Bakers Challenge done! I was also excited about this (but I have to say not so much as the sushi, as I haven't had sushi since the day I moved here :\ and have always wanted to make it!)
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2. Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
Since I did the stacked Cannoli aka Cannolipoleons, my version differs from the traditional but it's the suggested way to make them from the recipe we were given. Oh and I need to note here that instead of wine in the above list, a dark juice (grape, pomegranate, etc) can be used, just add about 1 teaspoon more vinegar. I used pomegranate juice :).
For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).
2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.
For the filling we were allowed to do whatever kind of filling our little hearts desired! I had some pomegranate juice and some arils (seeds) that I thought would work great with the ricotta cheese.
To get the ricotta right I followed these directions from our recipe we were given:
DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:
1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. This is where I changed my filling by adding in about 1 tablespoon of pomegranate juice to the ricotta and let chill for a couple of hours in a covered bowl in the fridge.
To fill my cannoli, I of course didn't need to do the conventional method of using either a pastry bag and tip or a zip lock with the corner cut. I instead just took a spoon and spooned some of the filling on one of the fried disks and sprinkled a few pomegranate seeds on the filling then topped it with another cannoli disk and topped again with the pomegranate ricotta filling and more seeds. I then dusted very lightly with some confectioners/icing/powdered sugar on top.
These were so good I had to make another batch of the cannoli shell/disks to give to the hubby and the little one because they liked them so much. I however enjoyed the pomegranate ricotta filling the most with the crispy cannoli shells!