We prefer the fresh taste of this Chocolate Chip Cannoli recipe's homemade ricotta, which can be made up to 4 days ahead. If you don't have time to make ricotta from scratch, substitute 4 cups part-skim ricotta, and proceed to step 3.
1 gallon 1% low-fat milk
4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces fromage blanc
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 (18 x 14–inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, divided
2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
How to Make It
To prepare ricotta, line a large colander or sieve with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to extend over outside edges of colander, and place colander in a large bowl.
Combine milk and buttermilk in a large, heavy stockpot. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reaches 170°, gently stirring constantly. As soon as the milk mixture reaches 170°, stop stirring (whey and curds will separate at this point). Continue to cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 190°. (Be sure not to stir, or curds that have formed will break apart.) Immediately remove pan from heat. (Bottom of pan may be slightly scorched.) Pour milk mixture into cheesecloth-lined colander. Drain over bowl for 5 minutes, and discard liquid (whey). Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Hang cheesecloth bundle from kitchen faucet, and drain 12 minutes or just until whey stops dripping. Scrape ricotta into a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and toss gently with a fork to combine. Cool to room temperature.
Add 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and fromage blanc to ricotta; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Cover mixture, and refrigerate.
To prepare shells, preheat oven to 375°.
Cut out 12 (12 x 4–inch) pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Using your index fingers as a guide, loosely roll up each foil piece jelly-roll fashion to form a cylinder with a 1-inch opening. Lightly coat outside of each cylinder with cooking spray. Combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface (cover the remaining dough to prevent drying); lightly brush with butter. Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons sugar mixture. Repeat layers once. Cut phyllo stack lengthwise into 4 equal strips. Place a foil cylinder at bottom of 1 phyllo strip; roll up jelly-roll fashion around cylinder. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Place on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Repeat procedure with the remaining phyllo, butter, sugar mixture, and foil cylinders. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned; cool completely on a wire rack. Carefully remove foil cylinders from phyllo shells by twisting ends of foil in opposite directions and gently pulling foil from shells.
Finely chop 1 1/2 ounces chocolate. Combine ricotta mixture and chopped chocolate in a bowl. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top plastic bag; snip off 1/2-inch of 1 corner of bag. Pipe ricotta mixture evenly into each of 12 prepared shells (about 1/3 cup). Grate remaining 1/2 ounce chocolate. Dust cannoli evenly with powdered sugar and grated chocolate; serve immediately.
This recipe was a LOT of work, but I took it on as a challenge and was happy with the results. It is best for a special occasion, and you do have to plan ahead. These are best served freshly made and not as good the next day. I used a very high-quality chocolate, which is important; I don't think it would taste very good with, say, Hershey's. I cheated and made whole-milk ricotta (instead of skim); I also substituted creme fraiche (instead of fromage blanc), which seemed to work just fine.
I don't know how the other reviewer who made the cheese gave it such a high rating. Following the directions exactly I threw TWO batches of a gallon of milk + a quart of buttermilk down the drain because they didn't curdle!! The third time, I added the juice of one lemon to the mixture and the recipe finally worked. Once I got cheese, they were delicious but an element that doesn't work at all negates the good recipe rating!!
I used nonfat already made ricotta and creme fraiche because I could not find fromage blanc. These were good but not fabulous. Maybe need more chocolate chips? I probably won't make them again. I would rather have cheesecake.
These are delicious; however the shells are possibly not worth the time involved, even though they are not too difficult. I will probably go with the more traditional "cookie" shell next time, at least to have something less buttery/greasy. I used homemade ricotta, but fromage blanc is hard to come by, so I used Neufchatel whipped with half-and-half, and I bumped up the amount of chocolate (1.5 ounces? Hello?). I have a dessert decorator for piping, but found that if the filling is left out to soften it can be spooned into the shells by hand, with less fuss and waste. I chilled the cannolis briefly in the freezer before serving, and topped them with whipped cream.
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