I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic as I scroll through social media with updates of Europe-trotting which brings me in dire need of Italian food. And for some odd reason I started craving for cannoli – the perfect salty-sweet-chocolate and light small bite that satisfy that afternoon hunger pang and can also end a heavy dinner with just the perfect amount of sweetness.
Ironically, my first introduction to this delightful pastry was in Boston, at the great Mike’s Pastry, the best place for cannoli. As a student, I often spent a ridiculous time out at night, and invariably made a stop at the famous North End where this little shop had a line that stretched around Hanover Street. The crowd is buzzing and every tourist has a white box with a blue ribbon filled with one of its’ gazillion filling options within a classic crispy thick shell. It was my first taste, and needless to say I wanted more.
So I ventured further into the North End Italian restaurants and discovered more hidden gems, that served a variety of cannolis – mini, praline, with candied fruit, berry coulis, more filling, thinner pastry, thicker pastry… ahh… the endless research that went in this adventure was quite impressive and of course, so was all that pasta, risotto, grappa that accompanied it!
But making cannolis at home, means bringing out the deep fryer, finding a wooden stick and a few extra minutes and while my fear of hot bubbling oil is now a distant memory, it’s still not something I would choose to go towards for a ‘small’ dessert bite.
So, I created a different version using pie dough to bake mini tarts for the cannoli filling. After baking the tart, I line the inside with a coating of melted dark chocolate and let it solidify in the fridge for about 10 minutes. Then the delicious, airy and light ricotta filling (which is incredibly easy to whip up) goes in with chocolate chips.
It’s a tiny bite with a lasting impact on the taste buds!