PUFFED, BLISTERED AND DELICATE, A PERFECT ALTERNATIVE FOR THIS TASTY ITALIAN TREAT
IT’S one of those days.
One of those days when I feel like unleashing a tornado of violence towards all things that come within close proximity, dead or alive. The trees standing stupidly on the pavement. The peasant birds that just took a shit outside my window. The lazy-ass sun that isn’t doing its fucking job. The dead voice of the automatic phone-operator… Hell yes, I think the mailman should get some, too.
And it is quite disturbing that under such foul mood, I’ve made one of the cutest and daintiest pastry yet. If you like cannoli and your world currently sucks, I think it’d be helpful to know that no dough-making or stainless steel molds are needed to make them at home. You can do this instead. Dumpling wrapper is some of the most under-utilized kitchen wonders. Silky, smooth and slightly chewy when boiled. But puffed, blistered and almost lace-like and delicate when deep-fried, a perfect alternative for this tasty Italian treat. This is where the likelihood of my fragile state of mind is standing, on the back of a wooden spoon (a simple kitchen trick) and these wine-brushed dumpling wrapper cannoli, tumbled in cinnamon sugar and filled with maple-sweetened ricotta cheese.
What is it that they say? Leave the gun, take the cannoli?
Makes: 20 mini cannoli
First, the wrapper. It’s important to buy fresh dumpling wrappers (NOT wonton wrappers) that are still supple with good amount of moisture in them. That’s what makes them puff and blister into large and small bubbles that creates the most beautiful crunch. The wrapper should feel smooth and silky, soft and stretchable in your hands.
Then, the ricotta. I used a whole milk ricotta that was ultra-thick, which I believe was pressed and drained inside a mold. If you suspect your ricotta to be on the “creamier” or “spreadable” side, you can either wrap it inside a cheesecloth, and press with something heavy to drain off any excess liquid, or you can reduce the amount of maple syrup and use powdered sugar instead.
Then let’s talk frying oil. I found that the wrappers puffed too extremely if the frying oil is too hot (say around 350 F/175 C). I try to keep the oil around 325 F/165 C. But don’t worry if you don’t have a thermometer. Simply adjust the heat as you go, and you’ll be able to find the sweet spot after the first few wrappers.
- 20 fresh Chinese dumpling wrappers
- 1/4 cup of white wine for brushing
- Canola oil for frying
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Powdered sugar to dust
- 1 1/2 cup (375 grams) thick whole milk ricotta cheese
- 6 tbsp (118 grams) maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp of ground allspice
- TO FRY THE CANNOLI SHELL: Lightly dust both sides of the dumpling wrapper with flour to prevent sticking. Rub a little bit of white wine on one edge of the wrapper, then pinch 2 edges together to form a tube. Set aside and repeat with the rest.
- Add enough canola oil to a frying pot until it reaches 2" deep (the smaller the pot, the less oil you need), then set over medium heat until the oil reaches 325F/165C, and keep it there (if you don't have heat thermometer, the oil is ready when bubbles slowly forms around the edge of a wooden chopstick). Insert the end of a large wooden spoon in one of the wrapper-tube, brush the outside with white wine, then lower into the frying oil. Keep the wooden spoon inserted until the shell has puffed and is set in shape. Then remove the wooden spoon, and fry the shell until golden browned on all side. Once the wooden spoon is removed, you can use it to fry the next shell as long as it doesn't crowd the pot.
- Let the shells drain and cool on a cooling-rack. Mix 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, then roll the shells in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Set aside.
- TO MAKE THE MAPLE RICOTTA FILLING: Make sure you are using ricotta that is thick in texture (drained of any excess whey). In a food-processor, blend whole milk ricotta cheese, maple syrup and ground allspice until smooth and silky.
- Don't fill the cannoli if it won't be eaten within 2 hours. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag and fill each cannoli shells from both ends. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.