The word cannoli itself is Italian, giving more than a hint as to its origins. Italy, the home of fast cars, world-renown fashion brands, and pizza, is also home to one of the most popular foods in the world today: cannoli.
Some histories have it that cannoli has its origins in Caltanissetta, on the Island of Sicily, around 1000 A.D. On the other hand, some legends have it that cannoli was first discovered in other parts of Sicily, i.e, Messina and Palermo, where it was historically prepared as a special delicacy for special seasons. From there, its popularity grew, spreading across the entire Isle of Sicily then into the Italian mainland, and across the rest of the world.
Cannoli shells have historically been consumed as a symbol of fertility, specifically where it first originated: Italy. Cannoli shells are especially fried shells or pastry doughs with delicious ricotta filling. While the fillings often differ, depending on the recipe, the shells themselves are popular because of their exquisite taste. The shells are shaped in the form of tubes, with the center hollowed out to accommodate a variety of delicious fillings. A number of cannoli recipes will often include small chocolate chips. The likes of pistachios and red cherries are often used as topping in making the pastries.
Cannoli pastries are a popular dessert and are almost always synonymous with Sicily. In fact, the snack is referred to as cannoli siciliani in reference to its Sicilian origins, where it is more than simply a snack: a true cultural symbol.
In the culinary arts, it is assumed that handmade or homemade cannoli tastes much better than mass-produced ones. Several vendors offer specially made cannoli pastries, making them into a number of fancy variants. Such variant recipes include the rolling of the cannoli shells into pistachio granules and including ricotta fillings. Often, the ricotta fillings will be chocolate-flavored. Nevertheless, the original Sicilian recipes are highly recommended, using the traditional tube-shaped cannoli shells.
Cannoli shells are made using fine ingredients. The dough is first prepared and then fried before the filling is then applied. Cannoli shells taste crunchier when they are fried to a light golden brown color. Hazelnut cream is sometimes used as a filling for some recipes.
Cannoli shells are usually small-medium sized, ranging anywhere between four and eight inches in length. When making cannoli shells, it is important to mix the ingredients properly and in the right quantities so as to achieve the desired crunchy effect. Brown sugar, eggs, flour, salt, shortening, and sugar are mixed together to make the dough, with red wine added into the mix to stipend the dough.
The dough is then rolled into a dough and then left to stand and rise for one hour. Thereafter, the toughened dough is rolled out flat to about one-eighth of an inch in thickness, then finally cut into smaller squares of an area of about five by five inches. A special cannoli tube is used to achieve the wrapping effect, with the pre-cut squares of the dough wrapped carefully around the tube and then pressed together. Then the frying begins, ideally in deep fat, until it turns a golden brown color. Special care must be taken to ensure that the fried cannoli shells do not scatter when they are finally removed. More wine in the dough mix means fewer chances of the shells scattering upon removal. It should also be noted that the cannoli tubes used should have a diameter of one inch and a length of about eight inches.
Now that we’ve established how popular and tasty cannoli shells and cannoli pastries are, we shall examine closely where you’re most like to find cannoli shells in grocery stores.
- Baking Section: In your local grocery store, instead of wandering about the vast shelves and isles searching for cannoli shells, your first stop should be the baking section. As the process of making the pastries themselves closely resembles the initial procedures in baking, chances are you’ll be able to find some excellent brands of cannoli shells in this section.
- International Section: If you have thoroughly checked out the bakery section and still aren’t finding your apparently elusive cannoli shells, your next stop in the grocery store is the international aisle, specifically the Italian section. Given its popularity in the region and the near-mythical, symbolic, and status it shares with the likes of pizza, you’re very likely to find it on the aisle that is tagged Italian.
Below are a number of grocery stores where you can grab some cannoli shells for sale:
- Costco: Costco has its own special brand of cannoli, which they call cannoli kit. It also comes with its own filling and an instructions manual.
- Whole Foods: Whole foods markets are another place where you can get cannoli shells. The most popular kinds you’re likely to find here are cannoli shells called Allessi.
- Meijer: Meijer stores usually stock up on Allessi cannoli shells, so it is a good idea to check out this grocery store if one is in your area
Here are a couple of things to look out for when buying cannoli shells:
- There is no need to cook cannoli shells bought in grocery stores as they are already pre-cooked.
- Look out for brands that sell only the shells and not ones that come with additional filling (if you’re looking to make your own recipe)
There simply is no alternative to cannoli shells, except you make homemade cannoli shells with your own recipes. Depending on your tastes, you can decide to add special wines, add less sugar, or use a smaller quantity of eggs.
Perhaps, the best way to experiment with cannoli shells is to experiment with the recipe and the recipe for the filling. In fact, the deliciousness of the pastry is strongly linked with the quality and type of filling, and topping