The Sicilian cannoli: history, legends and the original recipe
The Sicilian cannoli: Today I will tell you the story and the recipe of a typical Sicilian dessert known all over the world: the cannolo.
Like the Sicilian Cassata, the Sicilian cannolo is a dessert that is traditionally made with ricotta.
Famous throughout our peninsula, but also abroad, cannolo is a typical dessert of the Sicilian tradition. Poems, folklore songs from the island have been written in its honor and various legends tell of its possible origin.
The History of Sicilian Cannoli
The stories are many and although they differ sometimes in substantial details, they have almost always elements in common.
In fact, legends agree that the cannolo comes from Caltanissetta, a rustic Sicilian town. At the time “Kalt El Nissa” in Arabic, meant “Castle of the women” and in fact it faithfully reflects the situation at the time.
When Caltanissetta was under Arab domination there were numerous harems! In the past, the Sicilian cannoli may have been a dessert created by the governor’s concubines.
Originally in the shape of a banana and stuffed with ricotta, almonds and honey, to celebrate the “talents”, that’s right, of the sultan.
According to another legend, however, the creation of the Sicilian cannoli should be due to nuns who, on the occasion of the carnival, prepared a dessert filled with ricotta, chocolate drops and chopped almonds.
We cannot know for sure which of the two stories is the true one but the sources agree that the creation is due to women and that, in some way, in both stories the singular shape of the cake wants to have a parody and iconic role.
Another legend, however, tells that the origins of the Sicilian cannoli could even date back to 70 BC, at Cicero times.
During a trip to Sicily he was completely enchanted by what was described as “Tubus farinarius dulcissimo edulio ex lacte fartus”.
It was in fact a “tube” of flour filled with milk cream. The sources, however, are not sufficient to state with certainty that he was speaking about the cannolo.
The phrase attributed to Cicero suggests however that the origins of the cannolo could be very ancient.
How is a Sicilian cannoli made?
The waffle, or the outer shell, is crunchy and tasty.
Inside we will find a sweet and creamy ricotta (Sicilian fresh cheese) enriched with chocolate chips or candied fruit (alternative version), mixed with vanilla and cinnamon flavor, or just one of the two.
How to prepare the original cannoli?
The process is not very simple, but it will guarantee you an amazing result.
Thanks to its uniqueness – which makes it immune to time, the Sicilian cannoli has a large number of reinterpretations (often all delicious) but we have decided, in honor of tradition, to bring back the original recipe.
Which ricotta to use for Sicilian cannoli?
A question that is often asked is: which ricotta to use for Sicilian cannoli?
The answer is simple and precise: to make cannoli and in general for all the typical Sicilian dishes based on this cheese, ricotta is that of sheep.
Cow’s milk ricotta is a heresy in Sicily.
How many calories does a Sicilian cannolo have
Another question that is often asked is: how many calories does a Sicilian cannolo have?
A Sicilian cannoli has an average of 200 calories, but it will be the best 200 calories you will ever taste!
Recipe (Ingredients to make about 15 Cannoli)
– Ingredients for the waffles
20 gr GRAINED SUGAR
5 gr BITTER COCOA POWDER
40 ml MARSALA
35 gr BUTTER 35 gr
1 bit of SALT
200 gr FLOUR TYPE 00
PEANUT SEED OIL
– Ingredients for the filling of Sicilian Cannoli
500 gr SHEEP RICOTTA
160 gr GRAINED SUGAR
60 gr DARK CHOCOLATE DROPS
1 teaspoon POWDERED CINNAMON
– To decorate the cannoli you can choose between:
Preparation Of The Sicilian Cannoli Step By Step
Drain the ricotta perfectly
In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips, until you get a smooth and homogeneous cream. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Put the flour, salt, cocoa, egg and lard in a bowl.
Then mix everything well.
Pour in the marsala and mix carefully until it fells is smooth and compact.
Form a loaf, wrap it in film and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
After the resting time has elapsed, roll out the dough and make a very thin sheet, maximum 3 mm thick.
Using a 10 cm diameter pastry cutter, cut out many discs and then wrap them around a cylinder, overlapping the ends of the dough.
Heat the peanut oil to a temperature of around 180 degrees and fry the pods for a few seconds.
After they become golden brown, drain them on absorbent kitchen paper.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta with the sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips, until you get a smooth and homogeneous cream.
Collect the ricotta cream in a sac à poche and stuff the cannoli.
Sprinkle them with a little icing sugar and serve them at room temperature or let them rest in the fridge.
You will have one of the most famous dishes of the Sicilian culinary tradition in front of you.
As for the other typical dishes I have told you about so far, I hope the recipe is easily understandable and gives you excellent cannoli.
Another invitation, which I usually do, is that to all Sicilian mothers and grandmothers (nothing to take away from fathers and grandparents I Speak to women only because my thoughts go to my mother and my grandmothers) who are the true bearers of our tradition: share your tips on preparing cannoli in the comments!
Greetings from the Sicilian Magpie