Saturday, October 25, 2014

Christmas Delights from Mistretta: The Cannolo Siciliano*


The world-renowned Sicilian pastry has been a tradition in Italy for centuries. Now, with this recipe, it can also be yours, to happy cries of “Mamma Mia!”

Christmas in Sicily is a wonderful time of the year: Midnight mass, the presepio (manger scene), Christmas dinner with the extended family and mountains of traditional Christmas pastries: buccedate3530912_com_cannolo_siciliano_with_chocolate_squares (made with ground dried fruit and nuts), cream puffs, almond brittle, pasta reale and the world famous Cannolo Siciliano.

Fresh ricotta, one of the Cannolo Siciliano’s main ingredients, comes into season during the winter months, just in time for Christmas. Although originally from Palermo, the cannolo has also become a highly prized tradition in Mistretta. The following recipe comes from one of the best cannolo makers in the city, Rosetta Tamburello.

Ingredients for the Shell:

  • 1 Kg. (2.2 lbs.) White Flour
  • 100 gr. (1/2 Cup) Sugar
  • 100 gr. (1/2 Cup) Shortening
  • 400 ml. (15 oz.) Red wine
  • 1 egg white for gluing the points

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 Kg. (2.2 lbs.) Drained fresh ricotta
  • 550 gr. (1.5 lb.) Sugar
  • 100 gr. (1/2 Cup) Coarsely cut dark chocolate
  • Powdered sugar mixed with a hint of cinnamon


  • Pasta Machine (optional)
  • Rolling pin
  • Several metal cannolo tubes
  • Deep Fryer with abundant vegetable oil or melted shortening
  • Diamond-shaped cookie cutter with rounded corners (5”X4”)

Procedure for Making the Shell

Combine the flour, sugar and shortening together, rubbing it between your hands until it is completely mixed; add the wine and knead until it is a uniform ball. If it is too soft, add more flour: it should be dry; if it should be too dry, add a little more wine, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Extend the dough with a rolling pin or the pasta machine, until it reaches a thickness of 2mm (about 1/8 inch). Cut the dough with cookie cutter until all the dough has been cut. Roll the formed pasta around the cannolo tubes, fixing the points by brushing with egg white and lightly pressing. Fry in hot oil or shortening until a golden brown is reached. Remove them from the oil, and cool.

While the cannolo shells are cooling, prepare the ricotta filling as follows:

Take the drained ricotta and sugar and mash together until creamy. Mix in the cut chocolate.

Place the ricotta mix into the cooled cannolo shells and sprinkle lightly with powdered cinnamon sugar. Place on a tray and serve.

In our home, these cannolos were fought over, and a tray of 30 usually lasted less than 5 minutes after serving. As they say in Sicilia, “Buon Appetito”!

*This article was first published in in 2012 by ©Mary Purpari  All rights reserved