Friday, November 27, 2009

I love Cannoli!



The day before the November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was announced I assisted my son's school prepared over 1500 cannoli for a fundraising venture. In our town three local schools with a large Italian connection all prepare cannoli at different times of the year and raised money for much needed supplies. As other schools may have Lamington Drives or Cake Stalls, we have Cannoli stalls. They are very popular filled with either vanilla or chocolate creme patissiere. That night 1500 cannoli sold in under 2 hours our small town festival! So, yes, we do very well.

So you can imagine when the next morning I tuned into the Daring Baker site to check out the November Challenge I almost fell off my chair laughing. Our host Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives had chosen Cannoli!
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, 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.

I have made many, many cannoli with our fundraising committee but I had never prepared them at home. So even though almost "cannoli-ed out" I welcomed this challenge wholeheartedly.

The recipe given was different to our regular recipe in that it contained no eggs. A quick email to my Calabrian cousin confirmed this was the usual recipe. I realise that the eggs are used when we make so many cannoli for ease of preparation. The eggless dough proves very resistant to rolling and shrinks back quickly. But the given recipe for cannoli shells was delicious and more tender and delicate than the 'egg dough' variety.


I filled some with vanilla, chocolate, coffee and rasberry creme patissiere.
Delectable!


But I was also curious to try the ricotta version. Part of the optional challenge was to prepare home made ricotta and/or home made marscapone. Funny how things work out, I had previously made arrangements with my sister to accompany her to the home a lovely, old Italian lady who prepares ricotta every week. She was bursting with pride to show us her method of making ricotta and we treasure being able to learn from such a capable woman. The ricotta was to die for! I will post homemade ricotta at a later date.
I also followed this post http://www.bakingobsession.com/2009/05/02/homemade-mascarpone-cheese/ for home made marscapone which resulted in the most beautiful, rich marscapone I have ever had. Thank you so much Vera at Baking Obsession .
I made a small quantity of a ricotta and marscapone filling which was rich and delicious. I will definately make the ricotta filling again. Thanks to Lisa Michele for a great challenge.
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CANNOLI SHELLS
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx.4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the 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 from 2 hours to overnight.
2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.


Pasta Machine method:1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through
2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.
3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.
For stacked cannoli:1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).
2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

VANILLA CREME PATISSIERE

300 ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
2 egg yolks
50 g sugar
20 g cornflour
20 g flour
10ml Amaretto liqueur
10ml Marsala
115ml heavy cream, whipped

Variations:

Chocolate:
add 30 g chocolate to hot milk
increase sugar to 75 g
substitute Frangelico for the marsala

Coffee:
Heat milk with 1 Tablespoon crushed coffee beans then strain
increase sugar to 70g
Substitute Amaretto for rum or brandy

Raspberry Orange:
Heat milk with the rind of an orange then strain
omit cinnamon
increase sugar to 70g
Liqueur is all brandy

METHOD: Heat milk , vanilla and cinnamon on medium heat until boiling.
Meanwhile mix together sugar and egg yolks. Sift cornflour and flour then add to sugar egg mixture. Mix well.
Slowly add hot milk to sugar and egg mixture whisking all the while. Strain back into saucepan and place on meduim heat until boiling stirring constantly. Once it boil continue to stir until thick and the flour taste is cooked out.
Remove from heat and add liqueur. Place creme patissiere in a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Cool. Just before using beat well then fold in whipped cream.

RICOTTA AND MARSCAPONE CANNOLI FILLING
250 g ricotta cheese, drained
250g marscapone cheese
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
Grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped almond

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Add the marscapone. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).



ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Revisiting Chocolate Mousse



I have a funny thing about eggs. It's not that I don't like eggs. I do enjoy them. But, you know, when you put that wine glass to your lips and you get that whiff of egg. Or the sponge cake that wasn't scented well with vanilla wafts eggy smells towards you. Or the chocolate mousse that is more egglike than chocolate. That what brings me to today. I never really did get chocolate mousse. Too many eggs and too little chocolate. Ahh, but what to do with a child who is craving that chocolate moussy thing that is sold in the cold section of supermarkets. Make your own of course. So, I turned to my trusty computer for inspiration. I wanted a mousse rich in dark chocolate and whipped light with egg whites but creamy with thick cream. Several recipes drew my attention but I settle on Dark Chocolate Mousse Recipe from the Royal Orleans.
I used 10 oz really good, dark chocolate and 2 oz of good, white chocolate. Of course, the quality of the chocolate really shows in the end result. My motto is to alway use the very best you can get your hands on. I also increased the sugar to 1/2 cup.


This chocolate mousse turned out to be just what I wanted - intense chocolate, creamy and foamy all at once. This recipe stated that it was best eaten immediately. Certainly at that point it had all the airyness of a traditional mousse however after 24 hours the flavours had melded and developed beautifully. Oh, such chocolatey bliss!