canolis in the window display in italy

Cannoli alla Crema Recipe

Hello, everybody! Any fun plans for the weekend? I, for one, intend to spend the whole Sunday relaxing at home, with good books, good movies and, of course, good food!

Sunday in Italy is the traditional day when, after the big lunch with the family, you eat “pasticcini.” You go to a nice pasticceria, and you pick them, one by one, filling up a carousel with these delightful small pastries. For example, one of the best Italian desserts, the one you can taste in our Milan Food Tours, Cannoli alla crema (or, as we say in Tuscany, “diti alla crema” – that’s actually “fingers with cream”)! 

They are called cannoli because of their shape, but they are not made with the same crunchy paste. In fact, they’re much sweeter, though still crunchy! So, why not impress your family, or friends, or significant other, by making your own cannoli? Here’s a recipe that is ridiculously easy and incredibly good! 

Note: For this dessert, you will need a metal “cannoli tube.” Or, you can make your own following these instructions. 

Ingredients: 

For the paste:

1 puff pastry roll

Sugar

One yolk 

For the cream:

250 ml of milk

2 egg yolks

85g sugar

25g Manitoba flour (or potato flour, or mais flour)

1 pinch vanillin or half of a vanilla stick

1 washed lemon peel (only the yellow part, never the white one; use large strips!)

First, we’re going to prepare our “crema pasticcera,” which is the yellow and thick cream you often find in our pastries.

It’s not a long process, but you have to be very careful and precise.

Mix the eggs with half of the sugar and the flour in a saucepan – better if it’s nonstick. Then, in another saucepan, heat the milk with the other half of the sugar, the lemon peel and the vanillin (or the vanilla stick). The more lemon-y you want it, the more peel you’ll add. (Remember: it has to be pretty delicate though.)

When the milk’s almost boiling, remove it from the fire and pour it slowly, while still mixing, in the other saucepan. Once they’re blended, heat it again on a low flame, while stirring with a wooden spoon. Now, turn on your oven to 410°F.

Keep mixing for a minute, from the time it starts boiling, then turn the flame off. Take off the lemon peels and the vanilla stick if you used it, pour everything in a bowl, and let it sit and cool down.

This cream is supposed to be thick, so if you feel that it’s not dense enough, keep stirring on a low fire until it’s ready. You can also add a bit more flour; melt it with a splash of milk or it will create clumps!

Let’s make the paste now.

Take your puff pastry and unroll it (or stretch it out if it’s homemade). It doesn’t have to be thin. Cut it in strips of around 1.5 cm large, on the long side. Wet every piece with some water.

Butter up your tubes, then roll each stripe on a tube (the wet part on the outside so every turn of paste will adhere better to the other one). Brush cannoli with the yolk, and cover with some sugar, then put them in the warm oven. Keep the high warmth for 5 minutes, then lower it to 170°C (338°F) and leave the cannoli baking until they’re golden on the outside – or a bit more, as you prefer.

Now, here’s the delicate part. Slowly and carefully take the tubes off the paste. Fill the pastry puff cannoli with your cream (you can use a professional sac à poche if you have one, or just a standard clean syringe), and then, serve!

Pro Tip: If you already have strawberries, put them on the plate! It’s a pretty dynamic duo!

Learn more about Italian food by joining a Fat Tire Tour in Milan, Florence, or Rome!

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