Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Holy Cannoli!

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 by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Yeah, so... cannoli. These were quite the challenge. The dough was quick and easy to put together. But the next part, frying - not so much. I have never fried anything in my life, so I got my mom to help. We tried to roll the dough out really thin, but it didn't work so well. So we had slightly thick shells. And, to make matters worse, I grabbed tongs that had just been in really hot oil. Ouch.
Many of the daring bakers were concerned about what to use as molds. We couldn't find cannoli molds or thick pasta to wrap the dough around, so we rolled up strips of disposable foil pans, wrapped those in parchment paper, and used them as molds. They worked really well. However, as we were frying the dough, some of the cannoli opened up, resulting in big dough puffs. But the ones that stayed closed were really yummy.
The filling - well, I don't even know what to say about the filling. I cut the recipe in half because of us not having so many cannoli to fill, but I forgot to cut the pistachios, chocolate, and orange zest in half. So it has quite a strong flavor. Also, as usual, I waited until the last minute to make these. So I just filled them, but the cream hasn't been in the fridge for very long, and it's still quite thin. That's why in the picture below, it's dripping out. Oh well, maybe next month I'll make the challenge earlier :D
I'm not really sure what my opinion is on these - I've never been a huge fan of cannoli. My dad, who loves cannoli, said that the filling was a bit too sweet for his taste. However, this is coming from the man who thinks that icing is too sweet. So really, I don't know. This recipe isn't one that I will make again, although I might try a different cannoli recipe in the future. But try the recipe for yourself. They are fun to make. Just be sure to grab the tong HANDLES, which haven't been in hot oil. Also be sure to check out the Daring Bakers blogroll! Enjoy!

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes


2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TWD Rewind: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

My dad is a die-hard pumpkin pie fan, and my mom goes crazy over pecan. So I knew that making a combination of the two for Thanksgiving was not an option. However, my dad had asked me to make a pumpkin pie for his office, so I suggested this. We made it together, but he almost got sick when he saw that corn syrup goes into pecan pie. Needless to say, he now refuses to eat or even participate in the making of pecan pie. Oh well, more for my mom and I! This pie was quick to put together. I used Dorie's pie crust recipe, which is my new go-to recipe. There is supposed to be a layer of pumpkin and a layer of pecan pie, but they sort of mix in the oven. However, the pecans do stay on top, which makes the pie very pretty. It tasted great - really like a mix of pumpkin and pecan pies, although it had the texture of a pumpkin pie. This would be great for Thanksgiving if you don't have people at your table who love plain pumpkin or plain pecan pie. If you want the recipe, you can buy the book or find it here. Enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Pie

My dad recently found this recipe while looking through a Real Simple magazine. He begged me to make it. I hadn't found a pumpkin pie recipe yet for Thanksgiving, so of course I said yes. We made it last night (pies keep for a few days). It was SO easy to make (I made crust in advance). You just whisk everything, put it in the raw pie shell, and bake it. Since the pie is for tomorrow, we haven't tasted it yet, but it looks delicious and we can't stop walking over to smell it :D
I recommend this recipe for someone who wants a last-minute, quick, yummy pumpkin pie. Enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Pie (Real Simple Magazine)

1 piecrust, store-bought or homemade, fitted into a 9-inch pie plate (I used Dorie's recipe)
2 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Set an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 350F. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust and bake until the center is set, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

The pie can be prepared and refrigerated, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TWD: All in one Holiday Bundt Cake

As you may know, for the month of November, us TWD members are allowed to post in any order we like. This week I made the All in one Holiday Bundt Cake, chosen by Britin of the Nitty Britty. It was quick to make the batter, but it did take a long time to bake. And cool. Plus, it smelled REALLY good while it baked. So it was hard to wait to eat it. Actually, we really couldn't wait, so we put on the glaze and sliced the cake while it was still warm. That made the glaze start to melt. But, that's okay, because it tasted awesome. It kept really well, like Dorie said it would. That would make it great for shipping (hint for anybody who's making Christmas gift baaskets: make a cake like this, wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in a box cushioned by popcorn. it keeps it from breaking and gives the recipient of your gift a snack!). This would be a great cake for a holiday dinner table, or even for breakfast in the winter. Yum! If you want the recipe, you can buy the book or go to Britin's website (link above), although she won't have the recipe up until next week. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

TWD Rewind: Cinnamon Squares

Fellow bloggers out there, do you ever make something, and then you tell yourself that you're going to post it later? But then when you remember that you should post them, you realize that you just put up a new post, so you should wait a day or two? Okay, so I confess that I made these quite a while ago. In October, actually :D I was just too tired (aka lazy) to post them. Oh well, better late than never. Right?
These were DELICIOUS. They start off with a cake batter that is full of cinnamon. That batter is layered with chocolate chips and espresso powder. Yum. We were going to leave it that way. We were in the car, and somebody (he-hem, Dad) accidentally leaned on it. With their elbow. So we were left with a cake that had a huge dent in it. Obviously, we then decided to make the icing (butter and chocolate). However, we didn't know where anything was in the guest house that we were staying at, so we had to use the microwave. Therefore, it didn't come out as a shiny, smooth frosting. It came out more like a barely spreadable paste. BUT, it was still delicious :)
The cinnamon cake had a very strong taste (and I mean that in the best way possible). The chocolate icing really took it to the next level. It kept very well, although it started to get dry by about the third day. But, that's expected. I highly recommend this recipe to anybody who wants a quick and easy recipe. As always, you can buy the book or find the recipe here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

As you all know, this month we are allowed to post the recipes in any order we like. For this week, I chose the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake, chosen by Katya of Second Dinner (love the name of the blog, by the way :D ). I have two words to describe this cake: messy, and delicious.
This cake is interesting, because it uses two quite unusual ingredients. First up is sweetened chestnut spread. I was imagining a light-colored, sweet spread. Yeah, not so much. It is very dark and I personally didn't like it very much plain. Second is jarred chestnuts. We decided to go for the bags, but the nuts ended up being darker than what I've seen on other blogs and in the book. Oh well!
Let me just say one thing: this cake takes the day to make. Well, that is, if you're like me, where you make everything in one day. First I made the glaze, which had to sit for four hours! That was quick and easy. Then I made the caramel chocolate ganache. It wasn't too hard to make, although it took a while for my caramel to brown. It was supposed to refrigerate overnight, but I hadn't thought about that, so mine only refrigerated for a few hours. Therefore, it was hard to spread because it was quickly melting. The cake was pretty simple to make. My only complaint was that it was very crumbly (although that could be due to the fact that it was still a bit warm when I stacked the layers). I was only able to cut it into two layers, and they broke apart when I picked them up. However, I was able to piece them together, and the finished product was delicious and went fast.
I highly recommend this recipe for anybody who has some free time and wants a great cake. Even my mom, who doesn't like chestnuts, liked this. If you want this recipe, you can find it on Katya's blog, or you can buy the book. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blackout Cake

Today is my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!). It also happened to be her best friend's birthday on Thursday. Her friend's daughter and I are friends as well, and both families were having a birthday dinner together on Friday, so her friend's daughter and I decided  to make a cake for them together. We planned out a three-tiered chocolate blackout cake. We doubled a recipe for two 9" round cakes so that it made 4 cakes. We baked the batter in two 9x13 pans instead of the round pans. We kept the first layer full. We then cut the top layer so that most of it was the second tier, but there was enough for a small top tier. We simply iced and stacked them - no toothpicks or anything. It worked out great! We decorated the cake using a combination of green icing gel, sugar hearts, slivered almonds, and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Yum! Everybody loved it. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to put cake boards under each of the layers, because it was difficult to slice. I really recommend making this recipe. Enjoy!

Blackout Cake (original recipe here)
  • Ingredients



    1. 1
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. 2
      Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans.
    3. 3
      Tap out excess flour.
    4. 4
      In a large bowl beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
    5. 5
      Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat till well blended.
    6. 6
      Add melted chocolate and beat 1-2 minutes.
    7. 7
      Mix together flour and baking soda and salt.
    8. 8
      Add to chocolate mixture in 2 additions alternately with the buttermilk.
    9. 9
      Beat till well blended.
    10. 10
      On low speed, add boiling water and beat till smooth.
    11. 11
      (Batter will be thin.) Pour into prepared pans.
    12. 12
      Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.
    13. 13
      Let cool in pans for 10 to 15 minutes.
    14. 14
      Turn out onto wire racks and cool completely.
    15. 15
      For Ganache:Melt chocolate chips and cream together and stir until smooth.
    16. 16
      Stir in butter and vanilla.
    17. 17
      Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until ganache holds its shape and is thick enough to spread on cake layers.
    18. 18
      Cover one layer with a little more than 1/3 of the ganache.
    19. 19
      Top with second layer; frost top and sides with remaining ganache.
    20. 20
      Press almond slivers into sides of cake.
    21. 21
      Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours for ganache to firm back up for easier slicing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TWD: Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

This week I chose to make the Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies (we are allowed to make this month's recipes in any order we like). They were chosen by Pamela of Cookies With Boys. These were delicious! I doubled the recipe. Okay, don't tell, but we put in double the molasses. So we had to put in double of everything else. :D
These were simple and quick to make (well, if you don't count the chilling time). The dough is formed into balls and then rolled in sugar and flattened with a glass. Alright, I'll admit that I was impatient and just wanted to be done with the actual baking of them, so I put twelve on baking sheet. Hey, the book didn't say not to! Obviously they spread. A lot. So I had to cut them apart (see above picture). But, nobody cared. They disappeared quickly. They do keep well, although they are best on the first day.
My only complaint about these was that it seemed like pieces of the cookies were great and pieces were a bit bland. However, this is probably just a mixing error on my part. I recommend this recipe. As always, if you want the recipe, you can buy the book or you can visit Pamela's site (link above), although she may not have the recipe up until further on in the month. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps (er.... crisp)

First of all, I'd like to apologize for the terrible picture. The crisp was cut into literally as I was opening the camera case. Second, this month we were given the four TWD recipes as usual, but since some might be great for Thanksgiving, we are allowed to post in any order we want. Which is great for me, because I did not have time to make the cake with filling, syrup, glaze... all that fun stuff. Still having some apples to use up from when we went apple picking, I decided to go with the Cran-Apple Crisps, chosen by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef. I honestly have never baked with fresh cranberries (shocking!), so I was excited to see how they would come out. Everything turned out great. You need eight ramekins for this recipe, but I only have three, so I just used a big dish. The topping is wonderful - sweet and full of coconut. The filling was great, too. I found the fresh cranberries to be a bit tart, but everybody else loved them. I really recommend this recipe, and it would probably be great for Thanksgiving, too. As always, if you want the recipe, you can buy the book or find head over to Em's blog (link above). She will have the recipe up eventually, if not this week. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Apple Crumble Pie

Okay, so, technically I didn't make this, my mom did, but I have made it tons of times. Since this was my mom, she made it with - dare I say it? - a frozen pie crust. Traitor.
Well, it was delicious anyways. It starts with a basic pie crust and a layer of apples mixed with cinnamon and sugar. Then a crumble of brown sugar and butter goes on top. Yum! We served it warm with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious. Enjoy!

Apple Crumble Pie (BakingBites)

All Butter Single Pie Crust:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into pieces
4-6 tbsp ice water

Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips, pressing it into the flour mixture and breaking it up, until mixture resemble very coarse sand and no pieces larger than a large pea remain. Using a fork, stir in ice water until dough almost comes together into a ball. Press dough into a ball with your hands and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 30-60 minutes before using.

Apple Filling:
6 med/lg granny smith, jonagold or other pie apples
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix apples, sugar, flour, spices and salt together in large mixing bowl. Set aside until dough is rolled out.

Crumble Topping:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
3 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add in butter and rub in with your fingertips, pressing it into the flour mixture and breaking it up, until mixture resemble very coarse sand. Set aside until dough is rolled out.

Preheat the oven to 450F.
On a large, lightly floured, flat surface, roll out the chilled pie crust into a large circle. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Keep rolling until the dough will fill the pie dish, which you can double check by holding the pie plate over the dough and looking for 1-2 inches extra crust around the rim of the plate. Gently lay the bottom crust into the dish, crimping the edges if you desire (or just pinching them off, as I tend to do). Lightly score with a fork 4 or 5 times.
Fill pie dish with filling, leaving any excess juice at the bottom of the bowl to help keep the pie from getting soggy. Arrange slices in an even layer. Top with crumble topping, squeezing it into small clumps in your hand (to create larger crumbles) as you finish the pie.
Bake pie for 20 minutes at 450F, until browned. Turn down oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, until pie is dark gold and apple slices are tender when pierced with a fork. If the apples are not tender and you need to bake for an additional 5 or 10 minutes (some types of apples are very resiliant in the oven. Granny Smiths worked fine for me at this time) and are worried about over-browning the crust, you can place a ring of foil around the edge of the pie plate to shield it from the heat while the filling finishes cooking.
Cool down to room temperature before slicing.

Serves 8-10.