It is getting “Hot” in here, so “Hot!” Wow, is it getting hot in the political arena these days or what? Seriously, was last night’s debate a boxing match or a debate? With some candidates tag teaming and trying to knock down other candidates, it definitely was entertaining to say the least. Partly what is happening, just like in the world, our country and now, in our political arena’s is the fact the something or better put, someone “new” has entered into a “world” that is different or thinks different.
Think about it, when something or someone new is introduced and that persons views, background, religion, and ethnic background is different, there is an “Instant” reaction. Often way before all of the facts are gathered and we get to know that person. Another thing that is apparent, just as in the whole of (wo)mankind, is our “Ego’s” start to flare up and get in the way! When we are not approaching everything with “LOVE” and kindness, even hard situations that require tough action, the world will continue to struggle with “getting along” with one another. The struggle will continue until we learn that lesson. Destiny cannot or will not change. We as humans cannot and will not “Trump” the destiny of religion and what God has in plan for us human beings.
The food world parallels the human world in so many ways. One thing different though is the food world is not so stubborn and resistant. The food world is more forgiving, more allowing of other ingredients and in general, just wants to satisfy whomever is enjoying it. If we humans lived the same way, the world would be a much more beautiful place to be. It is up to you and me.
One of my favorite treats growing up and that we would get when we went to the local Italian deli, was a cannoli. Cannoli is an Italian pastry dessert of the Sicily region. The singular is cannolo, meaning “little tube”, with the etymology stemming from the Arabic “Qanawat”. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine. They are also popular in Italian-American cuisine. In Italy, they are commonly known as “cannoli siciliani”, Sicilian cannoli.
It is a delicate pastry shell that is tube shaped and crispy. It is filled, traditionally with a sweetened ricotta cheese filling with a hint of citron, cinnamon, chocolate and pistachio. Since today is “National Pistachio” day, we will celebrate with this sweet little delicacy. You can dust the cannoli with powdered sugar to finish it off. Over the years this recipe has been cultivated to the point it is at today. This is a childhood memory recreated and that is where we will go today, with this recipe!
The great cannoli recipe
Part 1 the shells
- 1 ¾ cup – all purpose flour
- 1 – Tablespoon sugar
- ¼ – teaspoon salt
- 1 – teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 – Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 – Tablespoons Sauterne vinegar or white-balsamic vinegar
- 3 – Tablespoons water
- 1 – egg, beaten
Over the years of making this recipe, Mango has improved or speeded up the process, through trial and error. One area of improvement was in making the dough for the cannoli’s. Instead of by hand, now Mango uses the food processor. It cuts the time in half and the results are just as good if not better!
Take your first 4 ingredients and put in bowl of food processor (use a 8 cup size or larger food processor). Process to mix thoroughly. Next place the butter in the processor and pulse until it resembles a coarse mixture. In a separate bowl, mix the water, vinegar and egg. Pouring through the tube of the food processor, while it is running, slowly pour in the liquid mixture. When a dough mass forms on top of the blades, stop and remove the dough. Finish kneading the dough on a floured surface. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
The Great “Cannoli Connection” Filling
- 2 # – Ricotta cheese, whole milk
- 1 – cup 10x sugar, sifted
- 2 – teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 – Tablespoons finely minced citron
- 2 – Tablespoons finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 – Tablespoons finely chopped pistachio nuts
- ¾ – teaspoon cinnamon
In a Chinois (China cap or fine strainer), let the ricotta drain overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible. Next, beat the ricotta until smooth and creamy. Next, add the 10x sugar and blend well. Then add the vanilla, cinnamon, citron, chocolate and pistachio and mix until incorporated. Place into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours or overnight. Make an egg wash and set aside with a pastry brush.
Get an area ready to place the shells once finished, to drain (on some paper towels). Have your cannoli tubes ready (either store bought or 1-inch wooden dowels, cut into approximately 6 inches long.
In a large, heavy-duty stockpot, pour in at least 64 ounces vegetable oil and preheat at about ¾ of the heat on the burner.
Remove the dough and cut into halves. Form a disc and roll out on a floured surface until it is extremely thin, like about 1/16 of an inch thick. Using a large biscuit cutter, cut disc from the rolled dough, approximately 3-4 inches in diameter. Roll each disc until it is even a little thinner. By now the oil should be hot, test with some scraps from the dough. If it floats to the top real quick and it is sizzling, then it is ready. Also, drop the cannoli forms into the oil, just to coat once before you start making the shells.
O.K., this part is tricky. You may burn your fingers a little, until you get the system down. Use two pairs of short tongs and some paper towels. Have your pastry disc placed near the stove. Get the reserved egg wash and pastry brush. Start by rolling the dough around the tube, brushing the edge that will be rolled underneath the other end of the dough, with the egg wash. Finish rolling the dough over the egg wash brushed end and seal the edges. Drop the tube into the preheated oil. Get ready with your tongs, because they cook FAST! Remove from the oil when the shells are golden. Set on paper towels to drain. Remove the shell from the tube, carefully, with two sets of tongs, holding the metal or wooden tube with one and gently removing the pastry shell with the other. Set the finished shells away from where you are working and repeat this whole process until finished with all the pastry circles. You can hold these shells for weeks, in a Tupperware type container, Ziploc bags or any type sealed container that is airtight!
Time of service: You do NOT want to fill these tubes in advance. They will get soggy and be “RUINED!” You want to fill the delicate little tubes when you are ready to eat these great Italian treats. That is why it is called “The Great Cannoli Connection”!!!
Do not “In-put” the filling (your thoughts) before its time! It is the same in life, sometimes we want things way before its time. We speak before thinking! We react before carefully and thoughtfully analyzing the situation. Our society has become so impatient and it is our own fault. Fast food places, thirty-minute sitcoms (where everything is solved in such a short time), quick divorces and instant bankruptcies… whoooooooosh everything is so fast paced. No wonders the world has become such a fast moving, fast re-acting, impatient society! Whoa, where did that come from!
All Mango is trying to say, enjoy each moment. When something challenging comes along or an un-pleasant situation happens, think for a moment before you react. You might just save something very important… “Your face!” If you know what I mean, Vern!
Anyways, back to the cannoli’s, fill the shells with the reserved ricotta cheese filling and dust with powdered sugar and dip the ends in some chopped chocolate or pistachio’s or one on each end!
A little extra “Mango” juice: An easy way to pipe the filling into the cannoli shell, is to cut off the corner of the large Ziploc baggie. You can then take the cut tip and insert into the end of the cannoli shell. Squeeze the bag, pushing the filling into the tube. Viola, filled cannoli shell! You know what time it is, that is right, Deve essere il momento per un altro dei “Mouthgasms” di Mango (it is time for another one of Mango’s “Mouthgasms”)!
You know the drill, now that you have mastered something new and want to share these great little treats. Call over or text some friends and tell them it is time for one of Mango’s Italian style “Mouthgasms!” Then make some coffee or if able too, some espresso and get ready to create another unforgettable moment in your life and a few others too! If you are feeling ambitious you could make a bunch and then “hit” the streets and fill them to order to people on the streets. Just think of the “smiles” that you will be creating!
Wow, Italians we are all about “LOVE” and so should YOU! LOVE “YOU” and love everyone along your journey! Until next time, be kind to all you pass and embrace every moment! SMILE, someone is watching! Pace e amore (Peace and Love)
Start thinking positive thoughts!