Ask some of the world’s best Italian chefs who makes the best food and a hefty portion of them will respond with, “my Nonna”. And it’s no wonder when every Nonna has her own special recipes and unique style of cooking. We’re not Italian ourselves (sob!) so we’ve teamed up with Sandhurst Fine Foods, who know more than a thing or two about capturing Nonna’s touch in the kitchen, to bring you a series of traditional Italian recipes (and to help you become a whiz in the kitchen!)
Rightly or wrongly, our generation seems to be genuinely very impressed when someone under the age of 35 turns out to be an excellent home cook. It’s as though you’re some kind of modern day Betty Crocker—or you actually listened to your Mum.
We're no whizzes in the kitchen (we didn’t listen to Mum), but we have picked up a few tips and tricks, namely "fake it 'til you make it". Obviously, this applies to many areas of life, but in the cooking sense, we've discovered that if you can master three to five dishes that look fancy as hell (but are actually easy peasy) your friends will be hella impressed.
In our repertoire of suitably impressive dishes that are actually simple as anything is the heavenly cheese-filled dessert to beat all others—cannoli. What could be better? Cheese as dessert is always going to be a hit, so we’ve really locked it down and with the help of Sandhurst’s Nonna, we’ve totally perfected it.
Friends will be asking you to bring your ‘famous cannoli dish’ to barbecues in no time is you give this recipe a spin.
Cannoli shell ingredients
250g plain flour (extra for dusting)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp good quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
80 ml marsala
500g fresh firm ricotta—strained the night before
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup thickened cream
Icing sugar for dusting
1 cup crushed pistachios
Vegetable oil for frying—1-2ltr for deep fryer
1. Combine cannoli shell ingredients into a food processor or mixer with paddle attachment until well combined.
2. Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes into a smooth ball and wrap in glad wrap before resting for 30mins.
3. Once well rested, work into a rectangular shape and flatten out so it’s easier for the pasta machine to grab. Work the dough through the machine from the thickest setting down until it’s 3mm thick. Lightly flour and run it through once more until 1.5mm thick.
4. Use a ring cutter with the same diameter as the length of your cannoli tube, cut rounds of dough and brush with water on one side.
5. Roll cut out rounds over a tube and press edges together to form a cannoli shell.
6. Heat oil to 170°C and fry cannoli with the tube still inside until golden and bubbly. Do not crowd the oil or the temperature will drop and they may stick together. Drain on paper towel.
7. In a food processor mix ricotta filling ingredients until smooth. Add a touch of cream at a time to ensure the mix doesn’t become too loose, every ricotta is different.
8. Put cream mixture into a piping bag and once your cannoli shells are cool you can pipe the ricotta inside.
9. Finish by dipping each end into crushed pistachio nuts and a dust with icing sugar.
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Image credit: Federica Portentoso