Cannoli, tubes of crunchy pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream, are a distinctly Sicilian specialty, dating back to the Arab occupation of the island in the early Middle Ages.

Cannoli are indeed always fresh in Sicily. Entering a pastry shop you must necessarily ask for “cannoli filled upon request”. As all Sicilians know, more than 15 minutes of ricotta in the shell, and the cannoli turn from something magical into mush.

The ricotta must be only sheep’s milk, never cow because cow’s milk ricotta is light and sheep’s milk ricotta is much creamier. The pastry shell? Flour, and add a bit red wine that has become vinegary, a little pure alcohol, and a pinch of sugar. Take animal fat, lard, and cut it into little pieces, then work it into the flour with the wine. Leave the dough to rest for a day. And the frying? In lard. Using stainless steel tubes as the pastry molds? No, no, the pastry is wrapped around sugar cane.

30 January 2018
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