Creamy Valentine’s Day cannoli are made with ricotta cheese and heavy cream. They’re sweetened with powdered sugar and semi-sweet chocolate chips and then piped into crispy, high-quality, store-bought cannoli shells. They’re an Italian delicacy! Makes twelve cannoli or halve the recipe to make six.
Who doesn’t love desserts, especially Italian desserts? When I visit my family in southern Italy, I get my fill of Neapolitan desserts and gelato, that’s for sure! But, cannoli are Sicilian and they’re incredibly tasty, if made well.
In the movie the Godfather, after his partner performs a hit on a man in his car, the mobster walks over to the car and tells his partner, with a serious, normal tone, this famous line: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” It’s a classic line.
Cannoli are THAT good!
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Valentine’s Day Cannoli
I admit, I’ve had trouble in the past making ricotta cannoli because my filling came out runny, even after I (improperly) drained it first. Because I love cream cheese so much, I just used it to make cream cheese cannoli and with a cream cheese cannoli filling and was almost as happy.
But, there is somethin about RICOTTA cannoli that is so appealing. It’s a Sicilian dessert that is one of the most popular Italian desserts next to Tiramisu.
By the way, you can make your own ricotta cheese in your Instant Pot! It’s very easy with just two ingredients- milk and white vinegar. It comes in handy when you can’t run out to the store. It’s also simply delicious!
Cannoli are perfect for Valentine’s Day because they’re a tasty dessert that can be made quickly, once the ricotta is drained, if you’re using store-bought cannoli shells. Because you can dip the shells in chocolate and serve them with a strawberry or two, they make a wonderful family dessert or dessert for two with lots of leftovers!
You can easily halve this recipe and make about six, regular size cannoli. Trust me, you’ll want more than one anyway!
By the way, the word cannoli means “little tube” and it’s plural because the “i” indicates that. It’s not correct to call them “cannolis” but that has become the American term for plural “cannolo,” which is the singular version.
What make cannoli delectable is two things, a fresh, delicious cannoli filling obviously but, also crispy, fresh shells. Making your own homemade cannoli shells is ideal but, sometimes you just don’t have the time to make them and clean up splattered oil.
Therefore, try to buy them from an Italian bakery that either makes their own or buys good quality shells for you to purchase. I paid $10 for 6 shells but, they were so much better than the boxed kind you get at the supermarket. It’s notable!
What is cannoli filling made of?
- 32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese, strained 24 hrs (I use Galbani)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar and more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 12 cannoli shells
*The instructions to the make the filling and fill the cannoli is in the printable recipe card below.
Why is my cannoli filling runny?
If your cannoli filling is runny, you didn’t drain enough moisture out of it. Sadly, this happens to the best of us and it will ruin your recipe because there’s no easy way to fix it. Adding cornstarch didn’t do the trick for me and it altered the taste a bit.
See my instructions below on how to drain/strain the moisture out of the ricotta. It’s simple but, it does take time so do this the day (24+ hours) before you want to make the cannoli filling. The filling is good for days in your refrigerator so, you can make it ahead and fill the shells before serving them.
However, do NOT freeze the cannoli filling. Ricotta is not meant to be frozen unless it’s cooked as in Stuffed Shells.
How to Strain Ricotta Cheese for Cannoli
This step is crucial in making ricotta cannoli! I’ve mistakenly not strained ricotta correctly more than once and as a result, had a runny consistency of ricotta cannoli filling which I couldn’t use to fill the cannoli shells. I then turned to making cream cheese cannoli filling until I figured out I wasn’t straining the ricotta cheese long enough and properly.
At about the 24 hour mark, I had two ounces of water at the bottom of my bowls, together. I put them in one cup to show you how much.
If this cheesy water had remained in the ricotta, it would have been too runny to fill the cannoli. Even some of that water could have ruined the cannoli filling and trust me, you don’t want that. The ricotta shouldn’t look wet when it’s done draining. Try to squeeze out the remaining moisture from the cheese cloth.
How to Decorate Cannoli
Decorating cannoli is fun too. This is where your kids or grand kids can get involved.
- Dip the cannoli ends in melted chocolate and then add sprinkles or chopped almonds.
- Simply sprinkle powdered sugar on top of them.
- Drizzle melted chocolate on top of the cannoli.
- Add chocolate chips to both ends of the cannoli.
- Add pistachios to each end of the cannoli.
After I made these cannoli, I brought two to my sons’ school and gave three to my neighbor and both raved about how good they tasted. One person said it was the best cannoli she’d ever had! Try this recipe!
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See more desserts.
See more Italian recipes!
Valentine's Day Cannoli
- cheese cloth
- strainer or colander
Strain Ricotta Cheese
- First, get bowl and a strainer that will fit over the bowl but, will not touch the bottom.
- Next, place the cheese cloth (in a two-layer fold) over the strainer.
- Then, put the ricotta cheese on the cheese cloth and spread it to the sides using a large spoon. This will allow the moisture in the ricotta to drain better because it's not as thick of a layer. NOTE: You may need to use two bowls and strainers. You may use a cheesecloth with a sifter or a colander.
- Then, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in your refrigerator for 24 hours.
- After the 24 hour period is finished, pull the ricotta cheese while still in the cheese cloth, into a ball and wring out the excess moisture. Note: At the 24 mark, you may need to strain out the moisture, add a new cheese cloth and let it drain another hour. If halving the recipe, you may not need extra time.
Ricotta Cheese Cannoli Filling
- First, add the heavy cream to large mixing bowl with mixer whisk or beat on high for 3 minutes or until the cream becomes whipped cream.
- Next, add in the powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
- Then, add the strained ricotta cheese, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Mix for about 30 seconds.
- Next, add the chocolate chips or stir them in by hand.
- Then, put the ricotta cheese filling into a one-gallon plastic zipper bag and cut the corner tip a half inch wide. If the cheese is still cold, you may begin piping but, if not, put it in a bowl (so it doesn't spill out) and in the refrigerator for 15 min to get cold so it's easier to pipe.
- Next, put the open tip into the cannoli shell and squeeze until it reaches the edge. Then, do the same on the other side. Repeat until all of the shells are filled.
- Then, sprinkle with powdered sugar using a sifter. Decorate as you wish. See blog post for decorating tips.