Cannolis, um, Cannoli!
November 30, 2009
Did you know that to discuss multiple cannoli you just say “cannoli” ? There’s none of this adding an “s” business. In fact, when discussing one cannoli, the proper way to mention it is by saying “cannolo.” Fascinating, I know. Just how the singular of biscotti (notice, no “s”‘ again) is biscotto. And octopus is not octopusses, it’s octopi, and goose is geese not gooses, and…
I could go on and on with wordplay, but I learned so many other things about making cannolis cannoli that I think it’s much more important to share those.
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele ofParsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
Recipe can be found here.
My friend M. and I got together on Veterans day not to catch up on homework, as sensible students would do, but to make cannolis cannoli (shoot!). She came bearing a pasta machine, while I was prepared with homemade cannoli (haha, yesss!) forms and ricotta cheese. I had to seriously tap into my woodworking skills for those cannoli forms, thank you seventh grade wood shop! In reality, they weren’t that difficult to make by sawing and sanding scrap pieces of wooden dowel and were much cheaper than purchasing cannoli forms. I highly recommend making your own.
We decided the process of making cannoli was complicated enough, so we left the flavorings classic and simple. On our journey to delicious Italian desserts, we gained tons of knowledge. Among the things we learned:
1) Oil does not boil like water when it is hot.
In fact, it’s not even supposed to steam. That’s not steam, it’s smoke. And smoke leads to fire. Luckily, my mom was home to notice the burning smell and the smoking pot on the stove, and we were able to cool down the oil before setting my home aflame. It was a close call.
2) The bread cube test is great.
The speed at which a cube of bread browns in the hot oil is very telling of the oil’s temperature. It also creates really delicious croutons to snack on.
3) Pasta machines are life savers.
The pasta machine made rolling the dough ridiculously easy. It reached a paper thinness without much manual labor at all, which enabled the skin to blister satisfactorily.
4) Orange zest is a must.
Adding orange zest to the ricotta filling really livened up the flavor. Otherwise the filling has much the same taste as the shell and can be slightly bland.
5) My Grandma is awesome.
Anybody who will do my dishes goes immediately onto my favorite people list. My Grandma does my dishes. Therefore, by the transitive property of equality, my Grandma is an awesome person. (Q.E.D. <– oh calculus…)
6) The more the better, when making cannoli (I got it right again!).
Having three people in the kitchen (me, my grandma, and M.) made the cannoli making process easy. We had an assembly line going: M. handled the dough, I fried each cannolo, and my Grandma cooled and removed the shells. Also, we only made half the recipe and it still made plenty cannoli. The more people in the kitchen, the better chances the cannoli have of being eaten when they’re fresh (which really is when they’re best).
This was my most successful DB Challenge to date. They were delicious; just as good, if not better, as cannoli I’ve had from restaurants. Unfortunately, they were all eaten very quickly before I could take too many pictures. I’ll just have to make them again! What a shame… =p