Pumpkin Spice Cannoli

I'm Italian.  The extent to which my family embraces Italian culture involves loud arguments, big hand gestures, and grandma's famous cooking. Even though my culture is drastically different than that of my fresh-off-the-boat great grandparents, I still enjoy partaking in my favorite part of Italian culture--the food! This is the second year I have made cannoli, and it might just be a new family tradition. Obviously, this is a twist on the traditional cannoli, but it is just as good!

Pumpkin Filling
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 cup lite whipped topping (or a little more ;] )

Cannoli Shells
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened baking coca powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon white or red wine vinegar
About 1/2 cup of sweet red wine
1 large egg, separated (egg white only)
About 1 quart of vegetable or canola oil for frying
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, nuts, etc. or 1 tbsp of cinnamon for garnish (optional)

For the filling:
Combine the pudding mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl.  

Add milk and beat on a low speed until well combined and slightly thickened.  

Refrigerate until ready to serve. I made this the day before. Just before serving, fold in whipped topping.

I forgot to snap a picture of the filling after I mixed the ingredients, but here is a picture of what it looks like after the whipped topping is added.  This is off the website where I found the recipe.

For the shells:
In the electric stand mixer bowl, combine 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 for 2 hours to overnight. 

Cut the dough into two pieces.  Keep the remaining dough covered while you work.  Lightly flour a large surface and roll the dough until its super thin (about 1/16 to 1/8" thick...the thinner the dough is, the better it will turn out after frying). 

I know, they red wine makes these little guys look like salami!

Roll the cut circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it shrinks. 

Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (you only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep frying will keep them oiled).  Roll a dough oval from long side around each tube and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap.  (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the dough will stick to it.) Press edges together to seal, and overlap again with egg white.  If edges are not secured well, they will pop open during frying. 

These are mini cannoli tubes.  I have found that people enjoy the smaller, bite-sized cannoli.

 In a deep saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 2-3 inches. Heat the oil to 375 degrees and have a pan lined with paper towels.  Carefully lower the tubes into the hot oil (3 at a time).  Do not crowd the pan.  Fry the shells until golden brown.

Lift out the tubes with tongs and place on paper towel. Very carefully remove the cannoli shell from the rod with the tongs and a paper bowl. Repeat with the remaining dough, until all are complete.  

Right before serving, place filling in a plastic bag and cut the corner to pipe in the cannoli shells. 

This is a very time-consuming recipe, but they turned out great.  I think I like these pumpkin cannoli a little more than the traditional ones with ricotta filling that I made last year. 

Happy cannoli making!

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Vanilla-Orange Sugared Cranberries

It's that time of year again! Oh, how I love the holidays. Of course, time with loved ones is so special, but the food--the food is heavenly!  I love trying new recipes, especially dishes with a beautiful presentation.  This is a perfect dish to make for Christmas, but I made them for Thanksgiving, and they were delicious. 

3 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 3/4 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. orange extract
1 (12 oz) bag of fresh cranberries


Combine 2 1/2 cups sugar, water, vanilla, and orange extract in sauce pan.  Heat over medium until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Make sure it does not boil. Remove sauce pan from heat. Pour the cranberries in and stir. 

Cover the berries with a plate so they will stay submerged in the syrup. cover the pan and place them in the refrigerator overnight. 

Place the remaining sugar in a rimmed dish. Strain the cranberries and place them in the sugar.  Shake until they are completely coated. 

Transfer them to a baking sheet to dry - about an hour. 

Once the sugar coating is hard, place them in an air tight container and store for up to a week.

They taste great frozen, as well. Enjoy!


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