…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? I love Italian cannoli, but I don’t make it all that often because the fried pastry tube is a pain to make. The ready-to-use (premade) tubes just aren’t all that good. If you feel the way I do here is the best substitute for old-fashioned cannoli and I make it quite often.
Typically, cannoli consists of the tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough, and a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta—a staple of Sicilian cuisine. They range in size from 4- to 8-inches. In mainland Italy, they are commonly known as Cannoli Siciliani.
Well, after experimenting in the test kitchen, I finally came up with a suitable, easy-to-make substitute by way of a cheesecake that cooks perfectly in a 6- to 7-inch springform pan fitted for the Instant Pot. This recipe is great for very special Italian-inspired dinners that can be enjoyed later with leftovers the night after. It easily lasts 3 or 4 days.
Garnish with Italian brandy cherries, fresh raspberries, strawberries on top, whipped cream, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup if you're feeling extra indulgent.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Cool time: 4 hours or overnight
Yield: 1 6-or 7-inch cheesecake, about 8 servings
For the crust
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for the pan)
2 cups crushed graham crackers or Italian biscotti cookies
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the cannoli filling
15 ounces ricotta cheese, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia flavor (see ChefSecret)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup mini-bitter sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup toasted and chopped pistachio nuts
To prepare the springform pan
ChefSecret: Have you ever wondered what the Italian bakers use to get the unique flavor and aroma in their baked goods? It’s Fiori di Sicilia, an intense extract that combines vanilla, citrus and flower essences. “Flowers of Sicily” is what it literally means. Many Italian bakers use this flavoring in their panettone baking. It seems clear that extracts containing flower essences are common in Italy. What is Fiori di Sicilia, you ask? The dominant flavors in Fiori di Sicilia are vanilla and orange, so a combination of those two make a fine substitute. Also a little rose flower water, to make make-up for some of the floral aromas. But don’t be afraid to omit it entirely, because to be honest, it can be just too darn strong for some people. Make sure if you are using this in place of pure vanilla extract to only use half the amount called for. This extract is available at King Arthur Baking or Amazon.
Quip of the Day: “If you can’t laugh at yourself, I’ll do it for you.”
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