This was my third or fourth time making cannoli, and I wish I could say it gets easier each time. Obtaining the right dough consistency, rolling out the dough, and removing the shells from the cannoli forms after frying can all be a bit tricky, but well worth the effort!
Cannoli de Ricotta
Adapted from Mario Batali
Makes about 24 mini cannoli
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
12 tablespoons (approximate) Limoncillo or Grand Marnier (I used a combination of both)
2 quarts canola oil, for frying
2 pounds sheep or cow's milk ricotta, drained 1 hour in a cheesecloth-lined conical sieve
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
Zest of 2 oranges, plus a bit more for garnish is desired
2 cup tiny chocolate chips (1 cup for filling and one cup for final assembly)
1 egg white, lightly beaten (for sealing cannoli dough before frying)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, cinnamon, sugar, and cocoa powder. ;Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the Limoncillo, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just starts to clump together. Dump the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up, and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, orange zest and 1 cup of the chocolate chips until well-mixed. Spoon into a pastry bag with an open tip and place in the refrigerator.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 8 pieces. Roll one piece onto a flat surface with a rolling pin to a 1/16-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut 4-inch circles from the dough. Using the rolling pin, roll each circle into an oval and wrap each oval lengthwise around a metal cannoli form, sealing the edges with egg whites (seal well to prevent it opening during frying, and don't get any egg white on the cannoli form or it will make the dough stick to the form and you'll break the shell trying to remove it). Flare the edges slightly open with fingers (Note: I used my pasta roller attachment to roll the dough, with good results).
In a 3 1/2-quart pot, heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F.
Gently drop the cannoli shells, a few at a time, into the hot oil and fry until dark golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels. When the cannoli are cool enough to touch, twist the molds away from the shells (it helps to tap the end of the tube on the counter a few times before gently twisting the shells off). The shells may be made one day in advance and allowed to rest, unfilled and uncovered.
Just before serving, fill the cannoli shells with ricotta cream, dip the ends in the reserved chocolate chips, garnish the ends with a little orange zest if desires, and dust with powdered sugar.