All About Cannoli

“Less is bore!”

Thus commented the fabulous, fantastical designer Gianni Versace to the clean, sober, beige-loving designer Giorgio Armani.

A marvellous image brought all the more alive when you know that it was made over cannoli and coffee on the smart Corso Como in Milan. Well, I can picture the street, the café and the coffee at least. But what are cannoli?

Cannoli are Sicilian pastries – crispy, fried pastry shells traditionally made with strutto (snow-white pork fat). The pastry is filled with ricotta cream (approximately five parts ricotta to one part whipping cream) sweetened to taste and with various flavours added – chocolate, raspberry coulis, lemon zest, orange flower water, vanilla, chopped nuts, candied peel…. Locatelli serves his with Amaretto ice cream and twisted almond crisps. In the States they sometimes use mascarpone instead of ricotta.

Cannoli vary in size, the very thin variety being known as cannulicchi, but if you are lucky enough to be sampling them in Palermo or Messina their girth is more likely to be of more robust proportions.

They are a damn nuisance to make – you need a metal tube for the frying process (a single pastry is a cannolo which roughly translated means ‘little tube’).

If you don’t happen to have an Italian café just to hand, you can buy chocolate-filled ones direct from Amazon UK, or, if you live in the States you can buy a packet of the pastry rolls only – ready for you to fill.

If you are really determined to give them a go a good recipe is Sally Clarke’s, there’s another on the Eataly site, and a third on La Cucina Italiana.

Alternatively buy them from the excellent Casa Cannoli which is based in London.

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli!”, said by Peter Clemenza to Rocco in The Godfather.

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