Cannoli with Artichoke Cream. Cannoli con Crema di Carciofi

Recreate your favourite Italian patisserie treat with this authentic recipe for Sicilian cannoli, featuring crisp pastry, a ricotta and chocolate filling and chopped hazelnuts.

Introduction

You can tell whether a cannolo was made in Palermo or Catania depending on how it is decorated: in Catania they use chopped pistachios, in Palermo they prefer candied orange zest. The municipality of Ramacca, 45km (28 miles) from Catania, is famous for its purple artichokes (carciofi violetti di Ramacca) and here, during their artichoke festival, you will find a truly revolutionary approach to using this vegetable. The cannolo in question comes from the Pasticceria Ricca and consists of two pastry tubes: a smaller one, filled with chocolate cream, and a larger one filled with a ricotta and artichoke cream. I have simplified the recipe somewhat.

Makes 10-12

Ingredients

For the filling:
5 artichokes
coarse sea salt
250g (9oz) ricotta, ideally sheep's milk ricotta
50-60g (1¾ - 2oz) icing sugar, plus extra for decorating
30g (1oz) candied lemon peel, finely chopped
50g (1¾oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (optional)
¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of fine sea salt
chopped hazelnuts, for decorating
For the pastry tubes:
1 small egg
pinch of sea salt
140g "00" pasta flour, plus extra for dusting
25g (scant 1oz) lard
2 tbsp Marsala
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
pinch ground cinnamon
neutral flavoured oil, for frying

Essential kit

You will need: metal tubes to shape the cannoli and a piping bag.

Instructions

Preparation time: 2 hours, plus cooling.

To make the filling, first discard the tough, outer leaves of the artichokes. Trim about 1.5cm (1⁄2in) from the stalks and pare off the hard outer, fibrous section. Put them in a saucepan, cover with water, season lightly with salt, cover, and cook over a low heat for 25–30 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then dab dry.

Scrape the flesh off the artichoke leaves using the back of a knife. Purée the flesh with the artichoke hearts and stalk in a food processor, then press through a fine sieve. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients. Spoon into a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

For the pastry, gently beat the egg with the salt and mix this with the other ingredients until they come together. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a pan, heat the oil for frying to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Hold a wooden skewer in the oil to test: when little bubbles form on it, the oil is hot enough. Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible on a floured work surface and divide into 10cm (4in) squares. Place metal tubes to shape the cannoli diagonally on the pastry. Moisten a corner of each square, roll it up loosely around the tube, and press down the corner. Cook each roll for 3–4 minutes in the hot oil until golden. They should have enough space to turn without touching, so you may have to cook them in batches. Drain on kitchen paper, leave to cool, then carefully pull out the metal tubes.

Spoon the cream into a piping bag and fill the tubes. Sift icing sugar over, scatter nuts on each end, and serve.

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