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Flavors of Europe: Sicilian Cannoli

As many of us don’t want to or cannot travel at the minute, we decided to bring some of the delicious flavours of our destinations to you! Today we start with a tasty sweet treat from Sicily, the Sicilian Cannoli!

Besides Tiramisu, the Cannoli is probably the most popular Italian dessert. Meaning "little tube", the tasty dessert comes in different sizes and variations, from the simple ricotta, candied fruits and chocolate to mascarpone, strawberry and pecan caramel fillings.

Sicily's rich culture reflects in the history of the Cannoli, which is believed to have originated in Piana Degli Alba outside Palermo during the 11. century. Considering the many Arabic ingredients like sugar cane or almonds, the sweet delight might even be traced back further to the emirate of Sicily under Arabic rule.

When it comes to traditional recipes I often feel that classic is best and less is more, so I decided to share a rather basic, but delicious recipe for simple ricotta filled Cannoli with you. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

What do you need

For the shells:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

  • ¼ cup of red wine (preferably Sicilian of course)

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1 egg white for sealing the edges

  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the ricotta filling:

  • 4 cups whole milk ricotta

  • ¾ cup icing sugar

  • A dash of cinnamon

  • Chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (70%)

  • Chopped pistachios

  • Icing sugar for dusting

I would use Cannoli molds to prepare the dough tubes, but if you don’t have these handy, you can either make your own molds (out of aluminium foil or wooden cylinders greased with oil for example) or you can fry flats instead of tubes and place the filling in between two flats like a hamburger.


  1. Place the flour in a large bowl and add the egg, oil, sugar, wine and milk. Mix everything together until you have a firm dough.

  2. Roll the dough with a rolling pin, cut into small pieces and roll the pieces until they are very thin (around 3mm). Use a 10cm diameter circular shape (cup or glass) to form rounds. Cover the pieces with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying.

  3. Once all the dough has been used up, wrap each round around your Cannoli molds or rods and seal the edges with the beaten egg white.

  4. Fill a deep pot half way with vegetable oil and fry 3 - 4 Cannoli shells at a time when the oil is hot. Fry until crispy and golden. If you need to turn the Cannoli to fry all sides, use a fork to prevent them from rolling over. Drain on kitchen paper and carefully remove the hot molds using kitchen paper.

  5. For the filling, mix the ricotta, icing sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Fill the mix into a pastry bag and pipe the filling inside the shells. Dip the ends in the chocolate and/or pistachios, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.

Ideally, fill the Cannoli just before serving as they might turn soggy otherwise. You can store your Cannoli shells for a few weeks in a dry, air-tight container.

Buon Appetito!

Feel like trying original Cannoli at their home?

Contact us and discover more hidden gems of Sicily and find some inspiration for your next Sicily holiday in our Sicily Adventure Weeks, Sicily Family Adventures and local experiences in Sicily.


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