As I get older, I find it takes more work to create real friendships. Casual acquaintances come easy but lasting friendships seem challenging to build at this stage in my life.
In my 20’s, friendships felt so simple. We were young, single and we shared everything together.
We knew who each other was dating or texting, who we hated at work, what clothes we wanted to steal from each other and our favorite spots to meet up for drinks on the weekends. If someone wanted to go out – it was a no brainer – you went out! duh, what else would you be doing?
Friendships were easy when you stayed out until 4am together.
Real life commitments get in the way now. Work feels more consequential, projects and hobbies are time consuming, we have partners, kids or dogs and honestly I’m just tired sometimes.
But then a few months ago, I started hanging out with some women here in Denver. They are all confident, independent, accomplished, and have built fulfilling lives for themselves. Everyone is different, but we bonded over our love of wine, food and hate/love-watching the bachelor (ette).
What seemed like casual friends at first has turned into real friendships. We haven’t stayed out till 4am yet, but give us some time.
Our last little get together is what brings me to today’s post – Cannolis.
I brought them to our wine, cheese and chocolate party and ate them for 3 straight days after.
What I love about cannolis is that while they look quite decadent, they aren’t heavy. The filling is light, airy and not that sweet. Adding chocolate to the rims of your shells makes this feel more like a dessert and I’m always in favor of adding more chocolate.
I won’t lie and say this is an easy recipe. There’s frying involved and frying things in oil is a pain in the ass for so many reasons.
BUT THEY ARE SO PRETTY.
This process brought me to tears (only barely) because I could not get the GODDAMN RICOTTA TO SMOOTH OUT. Furious frustrated tears happened and then a rabbit hole search on making homemade cannolis led me to hand-blending the ricotta.
And that’s when the ship started to turn around. Beautiful smooth ricotta filling, wrapped in a crunchy airy shell that’s so satisfying to bite into.
Go make these. You’ll make your friends (and yourself) happy.
I used the shell recipe from Pies and Tacos.
(start making 5 hours before you want Cannoli)
* My favorite brand is BelGioioso because it’s less grainy but this can be expensive. Whichever brand you buy, make sure you’re buying whole milk and strain it for an hour before using to ensure this is as creamy as possible.
Start by straining your ricotta cheese. Set your cheese in a piece of cheesecloth over a strainer, over a bowl. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Then, make the dough. Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolks and incorporate until the mixture is crumbly. Then add in the wine and mix until the dough is smooth. You might need to use your hands to knead at this point.
Shape the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic. Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours (I did this overnight).
I used a pasta sheet maker for this next part. When the dough is ready, run through your pasta sheet maker, starting with 1 and ending at 5. Use enough extra flour so that it doesn’t stick but not so much that you dry the dough out. If you don’t have a pasta sheet maker, roll out the dough very thin – so thin that you can see the outline of your hand when you hold up the dough.
Then, cut out circles. My cannoli molds came with a 4 inch cutter but you could use a mason jar or cup. Save the scraps and run them through your pasta sheet maker again – but just once because it will get too tough.
Once you have your circles, wrap them around your cannoli molds, using a bit of water to seal the edges. Don’t wrap them too tight or they will be very hard to get off the mold.
Heat your oil in a large pot until it reaches 350F. Fry the cannoli in batches, it should take about 4 minutes for them to get golden brown. You’ll have to babysit these and make sure all edges brown equally. Remove them and place them on a wire rack to cool.
Now finish your filling. Take your ricotta, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and mix together in a bowl. Then, take either a hand blender or food processor and blend together. This helps reduce the graininess that occurs in ricotta cheese. You want a silky smooth filling.
You can dip the edges of your shells in melted dark chocolate and nuts like I did or use plain shells. When you’re ready to fill, take a piping bag or heavy zip lock bag. You can use a piping tip or just cut a small hole in the corner of your zip lock bag.
Fill them up and eat immediately. If they sit too long with the filling they’ll get soggy. You can keep the shells on the counter and the filling in the fridge for about 5 days and just fill them when ready to eat.