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Cannoli Cupcakes

May 13, 2010

As I’ve been baking more, I’ve been trying more ridiculous and more complicated things. This time, with a lot of pressure from my friend Josh Barone, I decided to go all out and make cannoli cupcakes from a recipe by Tofu and Cupcakes.

Cannoli Cupcakes from Tofu and Cupcakes. Image copyright Katie Currid.

This recipe is ridiculous and difficult, but so interesting. The baker, Aubrey, was competing in a cupcake competition under the theme “cheese” and whipped up a recipe for these beauties. The recipe is incredible, incorporating all the important aspects of a cannoli into a cupcake – the ricotta cheese, the flaky crust, and the deliciousness.

These cupcakes only took me a day, but I had a few extra hands. If you want to tackle this, be prepared for a rigorous day of baking and get started early. I believe I started with the cupcakes around 11 a.m. and was finished by 5 p.m. Obviously, there is free time in between for baking and waiting for the dough to set, but this is not one recipe to be taken lightly!

Cannoli Cupcakes

A look at the delicious and complicated inside of the cannoli cupcake. Image copyright Katie Currid.

Pastry Shells

3 1/2 cups AP flour, sifted
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sherry
Shortening (preferably non-hydrogenated vegetable)
Chocolate chips (optional)

1. Place all ingredients and utensils in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Combine flour and granulated sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter with 2 knives or pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Beat egg and sherry in small bowl; add to flour mixture. Stir with fork to form ball. Divide dough in half; and then in half again, shape into 4 1-inch-thick square pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 375°. With shortening, liberally grease inside half of the ramekins** and outside the other half. Working with one quarter of the dough at a time on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness.
3. Cut out a circle with the rim of a margarita glass (or any cup or cutter of a similar size). Cut about 1″ into the the circle with a knife and position the circle into greased interior of a ramekin. Overlap the dough around where you cut it and remove the excess. Press dough firmly into the sides of the ramekin and insert the other greased ramekin. Any dough sticking out, coat with shortening.
3. Place onto a jelly-roll pan or casserole dish and put them in the oven* until golden brown but not dry-looking. About 20-25 minutes.
5. Very carefully remove from oven and remove the top ramekin with a oven mitt or pot holder (they will be slick!) dump the pastry shell onto some paper towels and allow to cool. Work in batches until all the dough is used.
6. Dip in melted chocolate, if desired.

*I would advise not using a cookie sheet, use something with a lip so if the grease melts off it won’t run out onto the coil and start a fire. The shells will sizzle and bubble in the oven, they are, in essence, being fried.

** Unfortunately, I am a poor college student and do not own 12+ ramekins. I simply made the pastry shells in muffin tins, and attempted to make the actual cupcakes in a tin that makes slightly smaller cupcakes. I also made sure to make the cupcakes very small so they would fit in the pastry shells by not filing the tin up very full. It was still somewhat difficult to make the fit, and the tins do not have the pretty texture of a ramekin, but you just have to make due with what you have!

The Cannoli Filling:

-Then add in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (excess liquid squeezed out through a piece of cheesecloth), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-process until smooth and well combined.

(For the cupcakes, I simply used a box of yellow cake mix by Paula Deen. I assumed that since I was spending time doing all these other aspects of the recipe, this was OK. If you want to make it purely from scratch, a white or yellow cupcake recipe will do.)

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream (this is the best part of the recipe, by far)

4 oz. by weight of egg whites
8 oz. by weight of sugar
1 cup unsalted sweet creamery butter, (2 sticks) softened, cut into tablespoons
1 oz. by weight of  bittersweet chocolate finely chopped, melted, and allowed to cool
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of chocolate extract

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites gently with a pinch of salt.
2. Add sugar and stir.
3. Place the bowl over a small pot of simmering watering so the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water and whisk vigorously until the sugar is melted about 4-5 minutes. The mixture will become thick and white. Test by rubbing mixture between your thumb and index finger; if you can feel the grains of sugar it’s not ready. It should feel completely smooth. At the this point the eggs are pasteurized and safe to eat.
4. With the whisk attachment of the electric mixer, beat on high for about 7 minutes until shiny, stiff peaks form.
5. Lower to medium speed add in softened butter one or two tablespoons at a time until butter is completely incorporated.
6. Switch to paddle attachment and set the speed to low. Add in melted chocolate, extracts and mix for about 5 minutes to eliminate any air bubbles.

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