I live on the west coast had my first cannoli while visiting Boston. After a shootout, I definitely preferred Modern Pastry's version - less sweet and more creamy than Maria's or *gack* Mike's, with a much fluffier and lighter texture than both (or any I've had since). I prefer straight up shell and filling without toppings or chocolate dipping.
I'd like to replicate that at home. I'm hoping I can find a decently toasty store-bought shell (and would enjoy recommendations in that regard), but, more importantly to me, I'd like to get close to that light and fluffy, not-cloying filling that I had at Modern. Any purchasing and recipe recommendations would be well appreciated :)
My love for cannoli comes from Boston too. Having family roots there, we would always get cannoli and other Italian pastries (la sfogliatelle, etc). when visiting. Modern Pastry is our North End destination for cannoli.
I recently had a craving for cannoli and purchased Alessi shells at the local supermarket. My filling was merely a combination of some local artisan sheep's milk ricotta, super fine sugar and a touch of vanilla . The key for this was the fresh, creamy ricotta. It made a huge difference in the texture. I then piped it into the cannoli shells. It is always amazing how simple, quality ingredients can be transformed into something so wonderful. I have to say that I was quite pleased with my filling, but very disappointed in the shells. I will make my own shells the next time. The Alessi shells were too thick for my liking. Good luck in your efforts to replicate. Please report back with your findings.
P.S. Modern Pastry does ship fresh shells and cannoli. It may be worth a splurge. It looks like they are not doing it now because of the hot weather though.
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I have a recipe at home for cannoli including homemade shells. I have had cannoli from many bakeries and restaurants and have never had them as good as homemade. My mom got the recipe from a neighbor (Italian woman) when I was a kid. I have made them at home, but it has been a while. The shells involve deep frying. My recipe mentions forming the shells on a broomstick. My mom used to suspend a big dowel across the backs of 2 kitchen chairs to form the shells. I have since purchased the cannoli tubes.
Let me know if you want the recipe and I'll try to locate it.
I had purchased cannoli forms, they looked like the metal tubing that used to be on folding chairs. I made them once or twice, the recipe was basically flour and red wine, they tasted great but smoked up the house so bad I was forbidden to make them anymore. I gave the forms to someone who wanted to try, never asked him what happened though.
You can make also the shell, It is very easy!
This is the original Sicilian recipe, the translator is at the top right but if you have problems I will translate it personally:
The secret to a perfect filling is to use a fresh ricotta, let it dry and you pass several times a fine sieve.