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Smoked Cannoli

This image courtesy of Daniel Krieger

Ricotta, the cottage cheese of Italy, is generally not my jam. I even prefer cottage cheese's vinegary bite to ricotta's fat creaminess. But my problem is more an issue of how ricotta is used than of how it tastes. Ricotta is usually used as a paint rather than a canvas in cooking--and since it tends to be bland, it cannot add much color to a dish. However, ricotta readily adopts whatever flavors you throw at it, and that's where it shines. Here, a quick addition of liquid smoke turns a homemade cannoli into a heady, addictive, and mysteriously savory/sweet sort of treat.

Makes8 cannoli

Preparation Time15 min

Preparation Time - Text15 minutes

Cooking Time10 min

Cooking Time - Text10

Cooking Methodfrying

CostInexpensive

Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, Formal Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturecreamy, smoky, sweet

Type of Dishdessert

Ingredients

  • 3 medium bowls
  • Whisk
  • Pastry bag or gallon-size zip-top bag
  • Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot
  • Candy thermometer
  • Rolling pin
  • Ring cutter or drinking glass
  • Cannoli rollers (optional; see Notes)
  • Tongs
  • 2 cups whole-milk ricotta
  • 1?2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1?4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1?2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 1?2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1?2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1?4-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • 1?4 cup Disaronno or other almond liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta to make it smooth, then add the confectioners' sugar, salt, and liquid smoke and whisk again until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag or zip-top bag and refrigerate.

  2. Make the dough. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt and whisk until incorporated.

  3. In another medium bowl, combine the butter and Disaronno and whisk gently until combined. Add the butter-Disaronno mixture to the flour and salt and mix with your hands until uniform and doughy.

  4. HOLD IT? The filling can be kept in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days. The unrolled dough can be kept in the fridge, tightly sealed with plastic wrap, for up to a day; remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes in advance and let it return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

  5. Fill a Dutch oven halfway with oil, clip on a candy thermometer, and bring the oil to 375°F over medium heat.

  6. Flour your work surface, turn out the dough, and roll it out with your rolling pin very thinly, to a thickness of less than 1?8 inch. Using a ring cutter or upside-down glass, cut out circles of the dough. You can reroll the scraps one time, if you'd like to squeeze out another.

  7. Roll the dough circles around the cannoli rollers and press the two overlapping edges together tightly, sealing them together with a little water, then press with your fingers to securely seal. Working in batches, gently place the wrapped cannoli rollers into the oil and fry until bubbly and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully remove the cannoli from the oil with tongs, tipping each vertically so the oil from the interior can drain back into the pot, and allow to cool completely before removing the roller.

  8. PLATE IT! If using a zip-top bag for the filling, snip the corner of the bag to make an opening. Then, using the pastry bag or snipped zip-top, fill each cooled shell with the ricotta mixture. (If the shells are not completely cooled, the ricotta will melt out.) Press each filled end of the cannoli into the mini chocolate chips if you'd like. Serve in cute little pairs.

  9. BREAK IT: If you replaced the Disaronno with Tia Maria or Kahlúa and then used cinnamon chips on the outside and a little cumin powder in the cheese, you would have a smoked Mexican cannoli.

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