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Cannoli

This Italian pastry is unusual in that it uses red wine in the dough to give it color. Stuffed with a creamy ricotta center and surrounded with a crisp, golden shell, it is a treat both in texture and in taste. Like biscuit tortoni, it is delicious with a piping-hot cup of espresso.

Servings: 24

Ingredients

Shells:
3 cups sifted flour
3 tbsps. melted butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup red wine (approximately)
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
fat for deep frying

Filling:
3 lbs. ricotta cheese
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup creme de cacao or other sweet liqueur
3 tbsps. grated bittersweet chocolate
2 tbsps. finely minced, candied orange peel
1/2 cup chopped pistachio nuts for garnish

Steps

Shells:
Mix flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Add enough wine to make a stiff but manageable dough. Knead for about 15 minutes, until dough is smooth and soft. Add a bit more flour if necessary to prevent sticking.

Roll into a ball, cover, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Divide dough into 2 parts and roll into paper-thin sheets on a lightly floured board. Cut into 4-inch circles or squares.

Place a cannoli tube from corner to corner, diagonally across the squares. Fold the opposite corners together around the tube. Brush corners with beaten egg yold to seal and press together.

Heat 3 inches of fat to 390° F. Fry cannoli, 2 or 3 at a time, turning if necessary, until deep, golden brown. Remove with tongs or a slotted spatula and drain. Cool to touch and remove tubes, being careful not to break the shells. Cool completely before filling. Fill shells just before serving so that they are crisp.

If you do not intend to use them immediately, store them in a cool, dry place. They will keep, unfilled, for several weeks.

(Note: Cannoli tubes can be bought at kitchen-supply stores, or you may use clean, unpainted wooden dowels. They should measure 1 inch in diameter and 6 inches long.)

Filling:
Beat ricotta vigorously for 2 minutes. Add sugar and liqueur and continue beating for 5 minutes longer, or until smooth. Mix in chocolate and orange and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Use a small spoon to stuff the filling into the shells. Dip the end in chopped pistachio nuts. If you do not wish to serve the cannoli immediately, the filling may be kept, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

 
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