The pastries for classic Sicilian cannoli are made with a rolling pin, special molds and a deep-fat fryer. You can eliminate the fuss by using the quick-to-fix cannoli filling in a light-textured sponge cake roll that bakes in a flash. Choose your favorite fruit for the filling – perhaps candied cherries, pineapple or orange (with 1/2 cup sugar), or dried dates, apricots or currants (with 3/4 cup sugar) – or any combination. Adding a handful of mini chocolate chips would be authentic, too.
6 eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt*
1/2 cup ground unsalted pistachios or almonds (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup chopped mixed candied or dried fruit (about 5.5 ounces)
With butter, lightly grease bottom of 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1-inch jelly roll pan.
Line bottom with waxed paper. Grease again. Set aside.
In large mixer bowl at high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until
foamy. Add 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly
until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. (Rub just
a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger to feel if sugar has dissolved.)
In small mixer bowl at high speed, beat egg yolks until thick and light lemon-yellow
in color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar,
1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the salt until blended.
Sprinkle nuts and flour over whites. Add beaten yolk mixture. Gently, but thoroughly,
fold nuts, flour and yolk mixture into whites just until no streaks remain. Pour
into prepared pan. Gently spread evenly.
Bake in preheated 400 degrees F oven until cake begins to pull away from sides
of pan and top springs back when lightly touched with finger, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Dust clean tea towel with confectioners’ sugar. With narrow spatula or knife,
loosen cake from sides of pan. Turn onto prepared towel. Carefully pull off waxed
paper. With serrated knife, trim all edges. Starting from short edge, roll up cake,
rolling towel in with cake. Place wrapped roll seam-side down on wire rack until
cool, about 30 minutes.
In small bowl, stir together cheese, 1/2 to 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and
the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Stir in fruit.
Carefully unroll cooled cake. Spread with cheese mixture. Reroll. Place seam-side
down on serving platter. Cover and chill.
Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
10 to 12 servings
Omit salt if using salted nuts.
To prepare in advance, wrap unfilled, rolled cake well in aluminum foil or plastic
wrap. Freeze. For serving, let wrapped frozen cake stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Unroll thawed cake and fill.