Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge--Cannoli

The Daring bakers are an online group of people who love to bake and put their skills to the test every month with something new and exciting. The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes y Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book. What a nostalgic way to start my Daring Baker's Challenge experience.

Its impossible to be in Boston and not try one of the many delicious desserts from Mike's Pastry, an unpretentious Italian bakery with very little sitting or moving space. I'd look forward to making the trek there every winter and being rewarded with a steaming cup of capuccino and either a cannoli or a gigantic cream filled pastry called the lobster tail. It soon became my favorite place to take anybody who was either new or visiting Beantown, always sure to impress. I'd never imagined making a cannoli at home, it was just one of those things I thought was better left to the professionals, you know, like twinkies, milano cookies or bagels. I was a bit worried when it was chosen. How do I juggle it with the hectic holiday cooking I thought, but didnt want to chicken out of my very first month. So I gave it a shot today and boy am I glad I did.

The shells came out beautiful, blistered (a sign of goodness), light and crispy enough to eat sans filling. But a cannoli isnt a cannoli without some creaminess so I came up with two-- a rose scented cashew pastry cream and an almond scented pear cream. The rose one was my favorite, smooth with the gentle crunch from the cashews. I enjoyed the more pronounced crunch of the pear one which I dipped in dark chocolate but it didnt really measure up to the delicate rose.
I'm sorry this was the best picture my poor camera would take after being rendered display-less with the little man's violent shaking yesterday. But don't let the picture deter you from the yummy results of this fun challenge! [update: the camera fixed itself so theres a close up of the blisteriness for your viewing pleasure.]
For the shells:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp unsweetened baking cocoa powder sifted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar (what I had on hand, substituted it for white wine vinegar)
1/2 cup red wine (Marsala preferred but I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 large egg whites
2 quarts vegetable oil (for deep frying)
1. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Mix in oil, vinegar, 1 egg white and enough wine to make a soft dough.
3. Place dough on a floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes till a smooth, uniformly colored dough forms.
4. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in fridge from 2 hours till overnight.
5. Divide the dough into eight equal parts.
6. I used my pasta maker to roll out the dough, but you can roll it out by hand till very thin.
7. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out shapes in the dough.
8. Heat oil in a medium saucepan to 375F.
9. Roll cut out around cannoli form (metal cylindrical tubes), seal ends with egg white and drop into hot oil. Remove when light golden brown (they turn darker as they sit around).
10. Remove cooked and cooled cannoli from the form. Reserve till ready to fill.
11. Dont fill the shells until ready to serve or they get soggy.

For Filling
1 cup pastry cream (divided) from Joy of Baking
1/2 tsp rose essence
1 handful roasted and chopped cashew nuts
1/2 tsp almond extract1 quarter of a Bartlett pear chopped
4 squares good quality (Lindt) dark chocolate melted in microwave
1. Follow the recipe for simple pastry cream.
2. Divide cream into equal parts.
3. To one part, add rose essence and fill cannolis with a piping bag (or plastic sandwich bags with one corner cut off). Dip cannolis into chopped cashews.
4. To the remaining pastry cream add almond extract and chopped pear chunks. Pipe into cannoli and dip into melted dark chocolate.


Pontch said...

Great Job
Happy holiday :-)

Audax said...

Even a crappy photo can't hide the fact you did a fabulous job on this challenge. And the blisters look perfect. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Wic said...

wow they blistered like crazy from what I can see. love it.
great work.

Shirley said...

Hey, a fellow local! Almond-scented pear cream sounds so good!

Audax said...

I just wanted to mention that you had left out the blog-checking line in your post go back to the reveal recipe and you find it and cut and paste it into your posting that way the web-robot can check you off the list. And welcome and congrats on your 1st challenge. Audax

Anonymous said...

Your cannoli shells are blisery beauty and I am drooling over the pear almond cream filling! Awesome job! Thanks for deep frying with me this month!

Karine said...

You did a great job with your cannoli! Thanks for sharing :)