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FOOD FUN: A Year Of Crazy Cannoli (A Different Flavor Every Week!)

Chocolate Amaretto Cannoli
[1] Chocolate Amaretto Cannoli (all photos © Piccione Pastry | St. Louis).

Carrot Cake Cannoli
[2] Carrot Cake Cannoli. You can port your favorite cake flavor into cannoli cream.

Chocolate Cherry Cannoli
[3] Chocolate Cherry Cannoli, its shell dipped in a hard chocolate.

Maple Bacon Cannoli
[4] Maple Bacon Cannoli, maple cannoli cream topped with a strip of caramelized bacon affixed with chocolate drizzle.

  What’s a cannoli lover to do when she discovers a bakery that specializes in cannoli with fillings of every description?

She plans a fantasy vacation to St. Louis, to visit the source: Piccione Pastry. [Editor’s Note: Sadly, the bakery has closed, a victim of the pandemic.]

It’s the home of scores of flavors of Crazy Cannoli, the only problem is that the bakery features just one special flavor a week. Hmmm…move to St. Louis?

With a fantasy like this, our only recourse is to make the flavors at home. Not one a week, of course; but we’re trying for one a month. At this rate, we have years to go, just to make a portion of Piccione’s output.

Oh, and a hack: You can buy the cannoli shells from an Italian bakery.

Some of the flavors are below, but first…

A Sicilian pastry originating in the area around Palermo, cannoli date to the ninth century. They were made for Carnevale, the festival season immediately before Lent. But the demand for the crunchy, sweet treats evolved to satisfy pastry lovers year-round.

Cannoli is actually the plural form of the word. The singular is cannolo (cannolu in Sicilian dialect), meaning “little tube.” Cannoli range in size from finger-sized cannulicchi (mini-cannoli) to five-inch-long shells.

The crunchy, fried pastry dough shell is filled with a sweetened ricotta cream (sometimes mascarpone), which can be mixed with vanilla, chocolate chips, chopped pistachio nuts, candied citron, marsala, rosewater, liqueur and other flavorings.

The filling at the ends of the shell can be decorated with mini chips, shaved chocolate or chopped pistachio nuts. The ends can be dipped in chocolate; or the whole cannolo can be dipped.

September is National Cannoli Month. June 16th is National Cannoli Day.

Cannoli shells are made from, flour, butter, sugar and optional seasonings (a pinch of cinnamon is particularly nice).

The dough is then rolled into ovals, wrapped around a cannoli tube and fried. The cooled shells are filled with a pastry bag.

The filling is ricotta, or the richer mascarpone, sweetened with sugar and enhanced with a bit of vanilla. Chocolate filling is a variation.

That’s the standard cannolo found in the U.S., but the filling can be much more nuanced, blended with any variety of ingredients such as marsala wine, rosewater, chocolate bits or chopped pistachio nuts.

Here’s a basic recipe and video from Food Network chef Alex Guarnaschelli.

Note to new cannoli makers: The shells shouldn’t be filled until you’re ready to serve. If left to sit too long, the moist filling turns the shell soggy and lose its crunch.

Start with classic vanilla cannoli, then let your imagination soar (there are even gender reveal cannoli, photo #7).

Like lemon meringue pie? Make lemon meringue cannoli. Red velvet cake? Make red velvet cannoli.

Here are just some of the creative flavors at Piccione Pastry, that start with the basic cannoli cream plus mix-ins or infusions:

  • Apple Cinnamon Cannoli, mixed with apple filling and topped with apple jack sauce and dried apple chips.
  • Banana Cream Pie Cannoli, infused with banana pudding, vanilla wafers and topped with meringue.
  • Bananas Foster Cannoli, blended with bananas caramelized with brown sugar, cinnamon, rum, and rum brown sugar glaze.
  • Blackberry Hard Cider Cannoli, mixed with fresh blackberries, the ends are dipped in a streusel crumbs.
  • Blueberry Cobbler Cannoli, mixed with a fresh blueberry sauce.
  • Blueberry Mint Mojito Cannoli, blueberry pastry cream with fresh blueberries and mint drizzle.
  • Breakfast Cannoli Cannoli, coffee cream, ends of cinnamon Chex cereal, then the whole thing is drizzled in maple syrup and powdered sugar.
  • Candy Crazy Cannoli, mixed with Twix, Kit Kat, Heath Bar, Whoppers and Nerds.

  • Carrot Cake Cannoli, photo #2, cannoli cream with pieces of carrot cake.
  • Cheddar Apple Pie Cannoli, cannoli cream mixed with cinnamon apples and topped with melted cheddar cheese.
  • Chocolate Amaretto Cannoli (photo #1), liqueur-infused chocolate cannoli cream, shell topped with a chocolate drizzle and chopped almonds.
  • Chocolate Cherry Cannoli (photo #3), chocolate cannoli cream with pieces of cherries, coated in hardened chocolate.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cannoli, with chunky peanut butter and chocolate chips, the ends dipped in chocolate and peanuts.
  • Cinnamon Valentine Cannoli, infused with cinnamon schnapps, the ends are decorated with a cinnamon candy heart.
  • Coconut Cannoli, coconut cannoli cream with shaved coconut on the ends.
  • Dreamsicle Cannoli (photo #5), mixed with fresh orange segments and topped with candied orange peel affixed with royal icing.
  • Dutch Apple Pie Cannoli, with apple filling, caramel drizzle and crumbs on the ends.
  • French Toast Cannoli, a brûléed shell with a cinnamon maple ricotta filling and Cinnamon Chex cereal.
  • Fruit punch Piccione cream with white chocolate drizzle and pop rocks.
  • Gelato Cannoli, filled with ice cream and topped with a fudge drizzle (the difference between ice cream and gelato).
  • Irish Coffee Cannoli, espresso flavored cannoli cream mixed with Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur.
  • Key Lime Pie Cannoli, infused with key lime juice and zest.
  • Lavender Honey Cannoli (photo #8), infused with lavender, honey and lemon zest.
  • Lemon Chiffon Cannoli, lemon-flavored cannoli cream, drizzled with lemon glaze and dipped in cake crumbs.
  • Lemon Cream Pie Cannoli, lemon flavored Piccione cream, drizzled with lemon glaze and dipped in cake crumbs.
  • Lemon Meringue Cannoli, infused with fresh lemon zest and a piped meringue top.
  • Maple Chocolate Bacon Cannoli, maple infused filling, topped with a chocolate drizzle and a strip of caramelized bacon.
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cannoli, swirls of rich chocolate ganache in our chocolate cannoli cream, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
  • Nutella Churro Cannoli, filled with a nutella cannoli cream in a shell coated in cinnamon & sugar, then drizzled with royal icing.
  • PB&J Cannoli, infused with creamy peanut butter, the shell striped with strawberry jam or grape jelly-infused cannoli cream topped with a peanut butter drizzle.
  • Peppermint Patty Cannoli, infused with peppermint extract and garnished with dark chocolate.
  • Piña Colada Cannoli, infused with pineapple and Malibu liqueur, with shredded coconut on the ends and white chocolate and a cherry on top.
  • Pumpkin Pie Cannoli, mixed with pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spices.
  • Red Bean Cannoli, mixed with red bean paste, the shell ends dipped in toasted sesame seeds.
  • Rocky Road Cannoli, chocolate cannoli cream mixed with Marshmallow Fluff and toasted walnuts; decorated with a chocolate drizzle, crushed walnuts and mini marshmallows.
  • Saison Ale Cannoli, infused with saison ale, chamomile tea and orange zest.
  • S’mores Cannoli, chocolate cannoli cream with mini marshmallows, graham cracker-dipped ends, and a toasted marshmallow garnish.
  • Stout Cannoli: chocolate cannoli cream infused with chocolate milk stout, topped with a stout and cocoa powder glaze and honey roasted peanuts.
  • Strawberry Shortcake Cannoli, with fresh strawberries and real pound cake pieces.
  • Sweet Potato Pie Cannoli, mixed with spiced sweet potato purée, with a torched meringue topping.
  • Toffee Caramel Cannoli, mixed with toffee bits plus a caramel drizzle.
    Exhausted yet? Imagine what it’s like to work at Piccione Pastry!

    And there’s more:


    Dreamsicle Cannoli
    [5] Dreamsicle Cannoli, with fresh orange segments and topped with candied orange peel.

    Gelato Cannoli
    [6] Simple but scrumptious: cannoli shells filled with gelato.

    Gender Reveal Cannoli
    [7] For a baby shower: gender reveal cannoli!

    Honey Lavender Cannoli
    [8] Summer cannoli: lavender with honey and lemon.

    Yes, you can turn your favorite savory flavors into cannoli. Here are two from Piccione:

  • BLT Cannoli, unsweetened filling mixed with sundried tomatoes, bacon and arugula, in a savory cannoli shell.
  • Buffalo Chicken Cannoli, unsweetened filling mixed with chicken and hot sauce, in a savory cannoli shell.
    How about Caesar Cannoli? French Onion Soup Cannoli? Chopped Chicken Liver Cannoli?

    Any flavor that goes with a crunch (croutons, crackers) is ripe for trying.

  • Deconstructed Cannoli Recipe
  • Cannoli Pie Recipe

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