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Seeking the REAL "Brooklyn Style" Cannoli Recipe

I have a serious Cannoli recipe problem, which I've been unable to resolve for several years. As many cannoli-philes have probably figured out, none of the recipes posted online or on this forum actually produce what I would now call the "Brooklyn style" cannoli, which is the cannoli of my youth.

I am reaching out to the Chowhounders out there who have worked in a bakery to share their secrets, because at this point, I am convinced that the recipe or secret to producing the cannoli I am looking for (and the cannoli style most beloved by most new yorkers) is simply not in the public domain.

What do I mean by Brooklyn style cannoli? First, let's get it straight - after trying to track down the "brooklyn style" cannoli recipe for over 10 years, I have noticed that in the US, there are several cannoli styles present. In Boston, most cannoli are just ricotta and sugar (think Fortunato brothers or Rocco's). Many people love this style, and to them, this IS cannoli. However, that's not what I'm looking for. If you get a cannoli in most spots in Manhattan, they will at least use impastata, which is a higher fat, low moisture version of ricotta, and candied citron. There is also other variants, such as Villabate's in Brooklyn, which seems to use some sort of orange or other liquer base (I only tried it once, not my thing, though they use a great ricotta), but it is a variation you won't find often. Occasionally, you will also find a cannoli that uses cinnamon oil, which is one of the key "secret" ingredients often listed on boards.

However, if you have ever been to a cannoli spot like Court Street Pastry, Alba's (now Luigi's in Staten Island), Cristoforo Colombo or even Veniero's, you probably have found out that absolutely no cannoli recipe out there can get you the flavor of these bakeries (which I am calling "Brooklyn" style, although you can find similar cannoli on Staten Island, parts of New Jersey, and other random areas). It is a hard flavor to describe, which definitely uses cinnamon oil or some other cinnamon source and of course, citron, but there is another flavor there that I've been unable to replicate using any of the recipes online (and I don't think it's Sheep's Milk Ricotta, which I've obtained from several sources on different occasions, with no success).

At first, I thought it might be some sort of anise extract, and perhaps that is part of the "secret", as that at least seems to get me part of the way. At times, I've thought that perhaps I am limited in my selection of ricotta, or that perhaps they do something to the cheese to create more flavor (though I don't think most of these places add mascarpone). Recently, I visited a pastry place in Philadelphia called Potito's that has a very interesting filling, and they informed me that they actually make their own ricotta - perhaps that is part of the secret (although I note theirs does not use cinnamon oil)?

Either way, despite my efforts to use every possible combination of the following: anise extract, cinnamon oil, sambucca, rose water, orange flower water, strega, maraschino liquer, rum, cacao liquer, Almond extract/Amaretto, etc, my cannoli filling still tastes absolutely nothing like these "brooklyn style" cannoli places.

If anyone has any advice, I would incredibly appreciate it. I have tried every variation of every recipe on the internet and am using high quality impastata and have tried maybe a dozen different cinnamon oils at this point.

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  1. Have you tried Gino's Pastry Shop's cannoli recipe from The Arthur Avenue Cookbook?
    Also, do you drain you ricotta overnight to thicken it

    1. I use Scala Brand "Old Fashioned" ricotta (made by Aiello) but I've seen another brand packed in an unusual type container (supposedly how all ricotta used to be packed before Pollyo), unfortunately I can't remember the name. I think this might be it http://www.calabrocheese.com/cheese2.... This type of ricotta is very thick, you don't have to do anything to it. You will probably eat some right out of the container as it tastes so good. I use it for everything, couldn't bear to use a grocery store brand anymore. Besides all the flavorings, I think a good quality cheese would be the most important ingredient in a cannoli filling.

      I only made cannoli once, and the smoke from frying the shells convinced me to just buy them in the future.

      2 Replies
      1. re: coll

        I use either drained Hand-Dipped Calabro Cheese or Impastata right now, but like I said, no results. I have also seen the "arthur avenue cookbook" recipe. Unfortunately, it is woefully inadequate (I don't even think it makes any sense - a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon oil?! That would be radioactive! It also does not include Citron).

        I think there is an ingredient I am missing, or a special technique that is not listed on internet recipes. Again, I call on all bakers who've worked in a shop making such cannoli to share their secrets.

        1. re: vtheory

          I worked at a bakery that made great cannoli, but the owner never passed on his secrets, except to the head baker. Good luck to you, maybe someone will be more generous.

      2. My father's original recipe for casateddi, a Sicilian pastry that someone I know once called a "cannoli ravioli," called for something called ricottoni, which, if you know your Italian suffixes, means "big ricotta." Strangely, no one I have ever asked has ever had ricottoni, though if my father wrote it on the recipe, I am sure that it did exist. He grew up in Brooklyn, by the way. I have made cannoli cream using the ricotta from the store on end of Arthur Avenue. It is so think that they actually cut it with a knife.

        1. I know what you mean about the elusive taste you are trying to find. I've never made a cannoli filling that comes near that taste. Some things are just better left to the pros and not made at home. That's what I have decided about cannoli. (though I'd love to know the answer to the elusive flavor)

          4 Replies
          1. re: ttoommyy

            I wish leaving cannoli making to the pros were an option. Living in a city where there are no good cannoli to be found, I do not have the luxury of leaving it to the pros. Necessity is the mother of invention and I am very much hoping that someone can provide a useful lead.

            I have spent over 10 years trying to perfect the recipe and my cannoli cream still tastes very little like what you find in these Brooklyn bakeries. With only a handful of places that actually make this style of cannoli, surely someone must share the recipe so that when these stores are gone, we can still enjoy their delicacies. It doesn't seem to make any sense - I don't know of any other pastry that has so many different recipes, none of which taste like the most famous versions available.

            By the way, roxlet, Ricottone is a variant of Ricotta, though I don't think it's the one used by these bakeries. They definitely use a type of impastata, although it's unclear whether they have access to a special batch or make their own a special way, like Potito's. I tried several different suppliers of Impastata when I lived in NY and found most of them tasted fairly similar. I currently have no reason to believe that this is the problem in my search.

            1. re: vtheory

              Food mysteries such as this one intrigue me. Sadly, I've never had a "Brookyln" cannoli so I can't help you based on flavour. I did however find an old (1986) article that stated that, rather than citron, true Sicilian cannoli use zucca, or preserved watermelon rind. I've also seen recipes that call for fresh cantelope. More frequently, I see candied squash (or zucatta) used. Could one of these melons/squashes be your elusive ingredient?
              Here is a link to that article: http://www.bestcannoli.com/news/news6...
              Some recipes call for blending the ricotta, sugar, and oils and letting the mixture sit overnight. This melding time could really impact the final flavour. Many traditional recipes call for passing the ricotta through a seive (or silk, if you want to be really traditional!) to get a very creamy texture. Have you tried this step?
              Also, is your impastata/ricotta from cow's or sheep's milk (the latter being highly preferable)?

              1. re: vtheory

                I have not found the texture of the New York style filling. I am using a combination of ricotta and whipped cream, with powdered sugar, mini semi-sweet chip, and orange peel. I am living in Eastern Washington State, and there are no bakeries here. My daughter asked me to make cannoli for her 16th birthday, so I was here looking for shell recipes! Try whipped cream with ricotta (blended, and re-chilled). Let me know what you think. I miss NY food!!! :)

                1. re: awbc

                  The best filling I've had used whipped cream plus ricotta, sugar, and finely-diced candied fruit. Made long ago by a very sweet Italian girl.

            2. vtheory - Perhaps Sambucca Romano is that "secret ingredient"? There's an older post here discussing Brooklyn cannoli: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2765... When you do manage to solve the mystery please report back :)

              1. Isn't it crazy! We all are searching for the magic recipe & everyone here has searched & not come up with the real thing it's absolutely crazy ~ for the filling I found that ~ draining the ricotta is a MUST ~ the flavoring is simple ~ it's cinnamon oil ~ vanilla ~ & the sugar of ur choice ~ I just got marscapone the other day ~ & it is a smooth creamy testure ~ italian cream cheese ~ very very rich ~ tastes likes heavy cream ~ So I tried mixing the two got the flavor right ~ as I'm from the Bronx ~ Arthur Avenue ~ and had the real thing growing up ~ but didn't drain the ricotta long enough ~ so we just broke up the shells & dipped them in the mixture ~ sinfully delicious ~ Have some coffee nearby ~ to help break down all that richness !

                  1. I had the great luxury (or should I say torture) of working at an authentic Brooklyn Italian pastry shop at the impressionable young age of 13.

                    The name of the Pastry Shop was Angelo's Royal Pastry Shop on 86th St. and 25th Ave in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.

                    The owner, Emilio, had a personal affection for quality cannoli and we (the many strange Italian American Men who volunteered to hang out at the shop on weekends yielding their metal spoons?) even hand filled the shells with spoons instead of pastry bags to ensure that the crisp delicate shells had the maximum amount of filling possible.

                    As a young pot washer and apprentice baker, I was eventually given the keys to the (Cadillac- Emillio did drive a Deville with the fake spoke tire on the trunk) famed Cannoli recipe. I recall one post St. Joseph's Holiday week when a newly highered baker from Italy made the Cannoli filling and made the mistake of adding a tad bit much cinnamon oil to the entire 80 quart batch. We had a line full of Italian wives and grandmothers waiting outside the shop on our off day, Monday holding their bizarre tasting Cannolis and Sfingi expecting full refunds for what they thought was " ricotta gone bad"

                    Needless to say 30 years later, I am still in the food business, and have retained some of my memories of their great recipe.
                    As I recall it was 3 parts Impastata to 1 part Whole Milk Ricotta, some vanilla extract, very little cinnamon oil was used and it sweetened with granulated sugar, - be careful not to overbeat as the filling will become quite runny. At the end we mixed in by hand semi sweet chocolate chips. The ends of the cannoli were dipped in pistachio or green colored coconut (bizarre)

                    The Don

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sdono

                      Wait til I tell my husband, that's exactly where he grew up. The pistachios on the end are definitely mandatory. I can tell this recipe is going to be perfect. Luckily I can buy the shells already made, as I said above, they smoked me out of the kitchen when I made from scratch.

                      1. re: sdono

                        The Don,

                        Thank you for your input. However, I must say that I've tried your recipe before (aside from adding the whole milk, which is an interesting twist) and it does not quite get me there. There is still an additional flavor in the cannolis I get in Brooklyn that does not come out when I simply mix impastata, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon oil (which is the recipe one often finds online). A question I have for you, or just in general, is: is it possible that this has to do with the type of impastata being used? I have increasingly come to suspect that perhaps the type of impastata most of these places are using has a lot of additional flavor that may come from some sort of cheesemaking process. My thought being that most impastatas I have purchased may have more of a "neutral" flavor, perhaps more desirable for making other recipes. If that is not the missing key, then I am thinking perhaps an additional milk-based product is being added to the mix, or an additional flavoring of some sort (though I have been unable to put my finger on what it would be). Having visited some cannoli places in arthur ave, I noticed that some cannoli did not use cinnamon oil but still seemed to have that "special" flavor and to me it seemed like it had to do w/ the quality of the ricotta.

                        If that is the case, any thoughts on where someone might find this special impastata?

                        1. re: vtheory

                          He said impastata AND ricotta, are you using both? Impastata by itself is too thick, for me.

                      2. I grew up in NY..Queens to be exact but hung out in Brooklyn A LOT...every time I go back I have to scout out cannolis as they're one of my favorite Italian desserts (the second being ricotta cheesecake) I've been wanting to make some and I'll try the recipe above. Thanks for posting.

                        1. Could it be ...orange flower water or maybe a tiny bit of lime?
                          If not explain what you mean by flavor missing.... is it a tangy, floral?

                          1. The secret ingredient appears to be NUTMEG OIL + cinnamon oil, combined (very little cinnamon oil). I can't believe it - I have >NEVER< seen nutmeg oil listed in any recipe. This gives the exact flavor of your favorite cannoli places in NYC (i.e. veniero's, court st pastry, etc).

                            If anyone else has a chance to try it out, let me know your thoughts!

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: vtheory

                              I'll have to give it a try closer to the holidays - thanks vtheory

                              1. re: vtheory

                                Please post your recipe, and do you make your own shells?

                                1. re: vtheory

                                  Just wondering, Have you tried the nutmeg oil? What do you think about using mace?
                                  I have been searching for a more homemade cannoli and/or cassata filling flavor and ran across this post.No impastata ricotta in my area, italian stores don't even know what I'm referring to. . .
                                  I am trying to create a signature dessert as my own - funny that I chose cannoli in that I'm Greek:)
                                  Thank you for all your research efforts.

                                  1. re: lindagr

                                    lindagr, my signature dessert (having tweaked from several traditional, handed-down recipes and a very reliable source from Artopolis in Astoria) is Melomakarona, and I'm Italian. My favorite desserts are Greek. Life is strange :)

                                    1. re: lilgi

                                      That's too funny!
                                      My mom makes the best melomakarona. It's the cookie that she is the best known for. The greek women at our church continuously ask her to 'show' them her secret by actually demonstrating her recipe - the same recipe that they each have. They are convinced that she is leaving a vital ingredient out! I'm convinced that it's in the 'touch' - just delicious!.

                                      1. re: lindagr

                                        Don't get me goin! I had a friend of mine take my Kourabiedes to work, and a fellow Greek coworker kept grabbing her, eyes wide open, repeatedly saying, "She's not Greek?! Really??!"

                                        One of my most treasured cookbooks is the one compiled by members of a Greek Orthodox church and I tell you I agree 100%, there is something ethereal about the food of a good Greek cook that cannot be translated to a recipe!

                                  2. re: vtheory

                                    vtheory - would you mind posting the recipe you use? Now I'm really wanting to make cannolis, but would like to try your recipe using the Impastata, and the combination of cinnamon and nutmeg oils.

                                    Thanks in advance!

                                  3. Wondering, with all your experience, if you have a tried and true Napolean recipe?

                                    1. I'm not from Brooklyn, and I have never had a cannoli outside my (Sicilian) family, so I can't compare, but I can tell you that growing up in my family there were two cannoli options: ricotta and "pudding". The ricotta variety were too "weird" for me as kid, so I always opted for the pudding. This pudding is basically cornstarch, milk, sugar, orange zest (light hand), vanilla, and cinnamon oil. The ricotta ones were distinguished with a cherry and the pudding with a piece of shaved chocolate. This same pudding is also used for my favorite layered cake. Wondering if you might be having this variety? (though I never find references to this pudding online)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: andr01d

                                        My SIL brought a couple of Baba Au Rhum from her local Italian bakery for Christmas. I'm used to getting them plain, but these two had a cannoli filling down the middle of one (with a cherry on top!) and the other had a pudding filling, the same thick type as I've seen in other pastries. She told us that it was a pudding filling, so it must be something requested specifically. Apparently a cherry is some kind of secret sign of cannoli filling in their other pastries. I was wondering why a cherry on a Baba au Rhum, now I know. The cannoli she brought had choc chips on the ends of half of them, I have a few of these pastries left over and will now be forced to eat them for breakfast, to see what I can see. That would be funny if the chocolate chip cannoli had pudding filling too.

                                        PS, I'm going to have to be on the lookout for cinnamon oil, didn't realize it was such a key component.

                                      2. I too have been searching for the ultimate Brooklyn cannoli recipe. Having grown up around Court Street Pastry, Alba, Villabate, and Angelo's Royal Pastry, I would like to replicate the filling for other personal desserts. I knew one of the pastry makers who was in charge of the cannolis from Villabate, but I never had the foresight to ask for the filling recipe before he passed away. Now one of the pastry chefs from Veniero's has opened his own pasticceria, Monaco's in Brooklyn on 85th and 3rd Avenue, and my husband knows him personally. Who knows if with a little bit of luck I can get a recipe!

                                        1. Please forgive me if this was already mentioned, but as soon as I saw this thread I knew I had to post. I've also been looking for that ultimate recipe but the one that I have I just acquired, and haven't tried it yet.

                                          Biaggio from Staten Island was challenged by B. Flay and he mentions that his "secret ingredient" is Crema Bianco Mangiare. I accessed Biaggio's cannolo recipe from Food Network and Mario Batali has a recipe for the Crema. Biaggio does not mention in the recipe the crema at all, just on the throwdown show, so it isn't clear what quantity he uses in his cannoli, only that he mentions on the throwdown challenge that that is his secret ingredient.

                                          I have yet to purchase the tubes to try it out, but his cannoli looked out of this world! Bobby lost hehe, no surprise there, THAT was a challenge!

                                          Edit: Forgot to post the links


                                          I wonder if he substitutes some of the Crema for the cream mentioned above?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: lilgi

                                            right now at costco they have a " cannoli kit" the company is out of New york it's in a box of 24 mini shells and two bags of cannoli cream for $9.99. I grew up in the bronx and have lived in CA for 30 years but have yet to find the illusive flavor of a NY Cannoli.. But the Cannoli kit is a true NY cannoli taste. I brought 5 boxes stuck them in my freezer. Only thing with costco is there today gone tomorrow. I hope they stay.

                                            1. re: bellivi

                                              elusive is right, Kansaskate mentions further down the inclusion of some clove oil which seems spot on. I still intend to make them from scratch (someday soon I hope) but thanks for the heads up.

                                          2. I saw your thread only today February 1 2011. I too always are in search of Italian American Pastry Shop recipes. I have a passion for seeking this Italian Yellow Cream recipe used also in Canolli's and in Italian Rum Cakes and in Zeppole di San Giuseppe as done in the Boston Italian Pastry Shops. There is also a secret ingredient in the Italian Yellow Cream don't know if it is vanillin or whether they are putting some Rum Syrup with Virginia Dare Roman Punch and a Sugar syrup in the Pastry Cream or Italian Yellow Cream. Do any Pastry chefs at these Italian Pastry Shops know the recipe and secret ingredients.

                                            1. supposedly this place sells ricotta impastata


                                              dont know if they are still in business or not...they are located in fairport, new york

                                              1. Have you tried using 1 drop of clove oil for every 2 drops of cinnamon oil?

                                                1. right now at costco they have a " cannoli kit" the company is out of New york it's in a box of 24 mini shells and two bags of cannoli cream for $9.99. I grew up in the bronx and have lived in CA for 30 years but have yet to find the illusive flavor of a NY Cannoli.. But the Cannoli kit is a true NY cannoli taste. I brought 5 boxes stuck them in my freezer. Only thing with costco is there today gone tomorrow. I hope they stay.

                                                  1. Alrighty, after searching through the thread a mix of ricotta and Mascarpone cheese along with NUTMEG OIL + cinnamon oil, if I can find it, will be the winner of weds. cannoli

                                                    1. for everyone I grew up in the Bronx & went to school at MT Carmel which is around the corner of Arthur Avenue & ate the real Italian cannoli's ~ they " are " made with " CINAMMON OIL" for sure! and no other spices ~ it's the drier ricotta ~ or the impastata as it is a drier cheese ~ or do the cheese cloth ~ we like ours w/chocolate chips!

                                                      1. Hi vtheory...

                                                        Do you have your final recipe that recreates the Brooklyn style cannoli? I've recently been on a search for an authentic recipe....based on your post....seems like you've found it. Wondered if you might share it?

                                                        1. Thank you Shuckapeafarms. I make our family's "authentic" sauce each year for Christmas - and they all show up for it! haha This year i am going to surprise them with the Cannoli's. I will try to prepare them exactly like your grandmother did. I really appreciate the recipe.

                                                          1. they use citron cremated, and vanilla mix with ricotta overnight to absorb the flavor.
                                                            Forgive my English, I'm a Sicilian.
                                                            Gaetano (Guy)

                                                            1. ricotta impastata is available at lombardis in fairport, NY......i believe he said $3.99 a pound and they do ship over night.....i gather it is expensive bu8t they will do it.....

                                                              here is the website


                                                              1. The secret

                                                                They leave out two ingredients lemon and Orance zest ( powder)

                                                                Ingredients Ricotta 2 lb Mascarpone ½ lb sugar to taste

                                                                lemon zest powder try 1 Tsp

                                                                orance Zest powder try 1/2 Tsp

                                                                Vanilla 3 Tsp. NO Cinnamon OIL

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: tanino

                                                                  This is very close to my recipe, though we use less vanilla, chopped citron folded in, and when the Ricotta is good, fresh and thick, a bit of half and half or heavy cream folded in to the mascarpone and we do use a bit of grated lemon rind and a touch of cinnamon oil - i find the texture of the ricotta and mascarpone very close to the cannoli of my Brooklyn childhood (Bay Ridge).

                                                                2. Did we never get the recipe from the OP?

                                                                  1. Hello vtheory, I was wondering if you would post the recipe you use for your filling? I don't have a lot of money to play around with the amounts or I wouldn't even ask. Thanks for your time!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: MeliPixie

                                                                      After tinkering a bit I decided that the recipe is not the authentic one. What I did, though, was as follows:

                                                                      1 lb impastata (drained ricotta if you must, but totally different flavor)
                                                                      Add sugar to taste
                                                                      Add vanilla to taste (keep in mind, vanilla will amplify the sweetness, so maybe use a little less sugar than youd otherwise want, then add vanilla. If not sweet enough, add more sugar).
                                                                      Add a drop Of cinnamon oil (by far the most powerful ingredient - consider diluting a drop in something else, as an entire drop may be too much)
                                                                      Add nutmeg oil to taste (it's a lot less powerful than cinnamon oil)

                                                                      Once you're done, you can add citron and mini choco chips. For citron, buy the fresh stuff. What you buy in the supermarket is awful. It should have a "snap" to it.

                                                                      I am glad this discussion is still alive, because I have still not sen a recipe that reproduces the flavor of what you find in Brooklyn. I think tanino is on to something. Namely, I am starting to suspect there is cream cheese or some other cheese in most cannoli (but not mascarpone). There is a distinct dairy flavor that i have not tasted in any type of ricotta I've ever bought.

                                                                    2. 32 Oz ricotta drained

                                                                      8 Oz Cream Cheese whip lightly

                                                                      1 cup Granulate sugar or (for your own taste)

                                                                      1 cup heavy cream Whipped

                                                                      2 tsp vanilla

                                                                      1-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

                                                                      1-1/2 tsp grated orance zest

                                                                      Add sugar to cream cheese

                                                                      and add ricotta

                                                                      Fold Whipped cream last

                                                                      refrigerate for 4 hours

                                                                      God bless


                                                                      this recipe came from professional italian Chef pastry maker

                                                                      I tried and e Buonissima

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: tanino

                                                                        Thanks tanino and vtheory - for the recipe.. I am going to try to make these again. My last attempt was a huge failure! haha

                                                                        1. re: dbrockman

                                                                          If you like you can increase to 1 Tbs of Orange and lemon Zest. If the flavor is weak
                                                                          This is the right recipe. Please let me know the result.
                                                                          Finally after many years of lucking for, this professional person revealed the sicret to me
                                                                          Please ask me any question,
                                                                          Ps. ricotta must be very dry

                                                                          forgive my English I'm a Sicilian

                                                                          God Bless

                                                                        2. re: tanino

                                                                          Thanks so much to both of you! These recipes both sound so good, I can't figure which to try first...! Do you think nutmeg can be used in place of the nutmeg oil? I can't afford any more essential oils right now, but nutmeg I have right on hand.

                                                                          1. re: MeliPixie

                                                                            No nutmeg or nutmeg oil. No cinnamon or cinnamon oil in my recipe.

                                                                            I tried this recipe and is very very very good

                                                                            Please try it and let me know the result

                                                                            good luck


                                                                            Merry Christmas

                                                                        3. First if all, there is NO ricotta cheese in REAL Canolli. Restaurants started that trend to make them fast. There are no oils used either. My Italian grandmother from Palermo, taught my mother years ago, and my mother taught me. To make the real filling: Take a very small saucepan (like a 2 cup) and pour 1C of milk. Add to that 2 cinnamon sticks, and the grated rind of 1 large orange, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2C sugar...simmer this for 30 minutes, stir often. While that's going, finely grate a LG Hershey bar (the giant one) and set aside. After mixture has simmered (this is where it gets tricky) your going to get out a pot and fill with milk (the milk amount being based on the amount of filling you want to have) We always made several dozen, so we used a 6Qt pot. Pour your milk in this pot, and then stir in the simmered mixture. Now your going to turn it into a very thick gravy consistency, by using cornstarch (little cornstarch mixed in milk, added slowly while continually stirring..you don't want lumps, so I hope your good at making gravy..lol) When it's nice and thick, remove from heat and let stand few hours. Now refrigerate it 24hrs. Take out and mix with a mixer. Should not be watery, just a thick creamy paste. Now throw in your grated Hershey bar and mix up. Refrigerate until ready to fill shells and serve immediately. Fill shell, dip each end in blanched almond slivers, and lightly dust top with confectioners sugar. Note: I believe the historic Italian farmer would have used cream in place of milk, but both my grandmother and mother lived through the depression era and with huge Italian gatherings, I think milk took it's place instead. The shells are easily made as well, only just sand off an old broomstick and cut into 6" lengths, instead of buying those expensive metal things they sell today. Good Luck! I hope it provides that flavor you were looking for.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: phdpamela

                                                                            Dear vtheory,
                                                                            i'm new to this thread, though i've been following it since November 2012 in research of enhancing my own family recipe (which is Sicilian). With the additions of the cinnamon oil (one drop) and nutmeg oil (3 drops) from your recipe, I made the most divine cannoli filling this weekend and am becoming a Brooklyn-style convert, even though i've never had one. (And yes, I used impastata, special ordered for the occasion.) A thought: could the other "dairy" flavor you're looking for be goat cheese? i've found a couple of references of adding goat cheese to cow ricotta (impstata or otherwise) to give it the tang that is usally associated with sheep ricotta. (The recipes suggested 2 oz of mild goat cheese to 2 cups of ricotta.) I do plan on trying it this weekend to see if I like tang. I've also found a lovely local creamery - Black Sheep Creamery - who is willing to make an impastata sheep ricotta for me in the spring, after lambing. We'll see if I like that. And i'm also going to try tanino's cream cheese. Sounds interesting. One more question: Have you tried Veniero's cannoli kit? Just wondering if the cannoli creme is the same as you get in the store. If so, i'll order it so i have a Brooklyn-style frame of reference.........

                                                                            1. re: denverchick99

                                                                              hey there phdpamela

                                                                              how much corn starch is little cornstarch? i like the sound of your recipe but want to get ingredients sorted out before i get started....thanks!!!!!

                                                                            2. re: phdpamela

                                                                              I really appreciate you sharing the pudding version to cannoli filling. The version that was given to me used half and half and milk. To thick the quart of milk, I used about 1/2 cup of cornstarch. Is that too much cornstarch? I let the pudding cool before putting it in the refrigerator. Then after taking it out of the refrigerator, I mixed it using a mixer. The pudding broke down and became loose. I don't know what I did wrong. I didn't overmix. Any help would be appreciated. Most of the bakers that I know will never share their recipes.

                                                                              1. re: phdpamela

                                                                                I totally agree. I have different recipes that have been given to me which use cornstarch with either half and half or whole milk. The recipe does not turn out. The moment I mix the filling after it was in the frige, it breaks down. I can't even use it between layers of cake because it oozes out. :- ( Whenever I ask someone with a successful recipe, it's a secret. Please, please help me out. Can you adjust your recipe for smaller quantities. Maybe, let me know how much cornstarch is used. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

                                                                              2. Hi - saw your post - worked as a baker in an Italian Bakery - they do not use regular ricotta in filling, they use RICOTTA IMPASTATA - it is much firmer and drier - similar to cream cheese in texture - it is very difficult to substitute any other ricotta for it and have it taste like a bakery. Contact me @nickvee206@aol.com if you have any other questions.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: nickvee

                                                                                  Ricotta impastata has already been discussed in quite a few responses to the OP.

                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                    Nice to have another verification though!

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      Yes, you are absolutely right. I guess I was just frustrated because it seems like nickvee did not take the time to read any of the discussion. His post comes off as if he were the first to recommend this. I realize I reacted too quickly. Sorry.

                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                        Just didn't want to discourage him, it is his second post and both are about NY bakery items. Wouldn't mind learning a few of those secrets!

                                                                                2. My family uses the "pudding" filling (biancomangiare). Every Sicilian family seems to have their own variation, but ours is a simple combination of sugar, milk, cornstarch, cinnamon oil, and orange zest. We use it for both cassatta cake and cannoli. Having never had a Brooklyn cannoli, I have no idea if it is similar.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: andr01d

                                                                                    Would you please share the recipe of the filling with the measurements of each of the ingredients that you use for your filling. The biancomangiare recipe is exactly what I need, without the ricotta. I would love to try it with chocolate cake as well.

                                                                                  2. I decided to revisit this thread because I'm making cannoli for a co-worker's birthday. After doing some Google searching, I came across a blog where this very thread was mentioned:


                                                                                    I recommend you read the whole article. You totally nailed it with the nutmeg oil. I noticed in one of your other posts you mentioned there was a dairy element missing. In that blog I linked to, they do interview Biagio Settepani about what he does. He was on the cannoli Throwdown with Bobby Flay and of course Settepani's won. The article says he combines the biancomangiare (which I think he refers to as poor man's cream in the show) with the impastata. Since it's made with whole milk, it could very well be the dairy element you're missing.

                                                                                    Unfortunately I've never had a real cannoli, so I have nothing to which I can compare the taste of what I make. I am definitely going to use the biancomangiare and nutmeg oil in mine. Unfortunately I don't have access to impastata but I will be using Sorrento and processing it, sieving it, and straining it for a solid 24 hours to thicken it.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: AnnieWilliams

                                                                                      This article is a revelation. Thank you for sharing.

                                                                                      The wall of cannoli secrets is slowly falling, but we are not there yet. Until we have the true, authentic, complete recipe, I urge everyone who has a passion for cannoli to continue the search.

                                                                                      Has anyone tried the Jasmine oil mentioned in the article? This is the first time I've seen it mentioned, but it is plausible that the cream might have a small amount.

                                                                                      1. re: vtheory

                                                                                        Have you tried adding in the biancomangiare? That might get you closer. I haven't ever seen jasmine oil but that would certainly be an interesting addition. If it's anything like rose or cinnamon oil, you would have to use a very tiny amount.

                                                                                        I just think it's awesome that you were able to nail the nutmeg oil.

                                                                                        I think it's obvious that we need someone to infiltrate and get the secrets.

                                                                                    2. Nutmeg oil is now available at Williams Sonoma.

                                                                                      1. don't know if original poster will ever see this response since the thread is old... but if trying to duplicate an elusive italian flavor, one might try an italian flavoring called fiori di sicilia. i use it to flavor pizzelle and it could be used to flavor either the cannoli dough or the filling as well. it can be found online or in italian grocery stores. happy baking!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: tjswan

                                                                                          I think it's in King Arthur's catalog.

                                                                                        2. Dear theory, Don't look past phdpamela (1/13) for the most authentic and delicioso cannoli filling from Palermo. No "cheese" can touch this Sicilian pastry filling. It is heavenly. I wish I could connect with Pamela because she is the only other person who has a recipe like my grandmother's recipe ever!! I also use the broomstick for my rollers. But my shell recipe is not right so I like you wish I could compare with her. Chao

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Moonlady

                                                                                            The one time I made my own shells, it was mostly flour and red wine,then deep fried, does that sound familiar? I may still have it in my old files.

                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                              Yes. I use red wine and white vinegar. Do you use egg or only egg yokes? My shells are not firm and bubbled like the bakery. I make the dough and then knead it in my kitchen aid.

                                                                                              1. re: Moonlady

                                                                                                Mine was supposedly Ferrara's recipe, from the local newspaper: Flour, melted butter, Tbsp sugar, pinch salt, wine (burgundy is specified to show you how old this recipe is!) and 1 egg yolk. No vinegar, guess the wine is supposed to cover that department. Then knead 15 minutes.

                                                                                                They did come out delicious, I made them in the Granddaddy fryer I had back then but the smoke as they cooked was mind blowing! I lent someone the metal tubes after that and never tried again, since we can get world class pastries in this area anyway. It was just a fun (sort of) experiment.

                                                                                          2. i know the original post is old, but just saw it last night, in search of the perfect cannoli shell! Born and raised in Brooklyn, now in staten island, have never tasted anything but Brooklyn style cannoli. My grandmother's brother-in-law was a chef at Gargiulo's restaurant in coney island during the 1940's. She has several of their recipes written down, which I now posses. Her cannoli recipe called for 1 jigger crème de cacao per pound of impastata, slivers of candied orange peel and tiny chocolate pieces, 2 tbl sugar. No oils, waters or anything else. I have not tried it yet, but I hope to get some impastata at Pastosa's today. I also bought Paneangeli Vanillina to experiment with. I find that draining Biazzo ricotta for 48 hours, confectioners sugar and thickly whipped cream is the perfect brooklyn texture. It is pure and simple. Add the chips, a little vanilla when whipping the cream, and a touch of cinnamon gives it the brooklyn taste i'm use to. Good luck in your search and if you ever find the exact combo, please share it here.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: lorisig

                                                                                              Thanks for this info, there is no one single recipe but good to know all the possible variations.

                                                                                              1. re: lorisig

                                                                                                lorisig - Please, please, please let us know what other Gargiulo's recipes you may have. I'm a former patron (grew up in Brighton Beach, went to Gargiulo's when I was a kid and went back when I'd visit my dad) now living in the land of "Italian Food = Pizza" and the only Italian food we get is what I make myself. I would be eternally grateful if you'd share any recipes might have.

                                                                                                1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                  RockyCat, I have a handful of recipes, written on old note paper. Some have to be translated. If I ever get the time to scan them, or type them up I will let you know. But you can get some really GREAT stuff from the old PollyO cookbook. It seems like every Italian family had one in the 1970's-80's. Do you have one? (There's a cannoli recipe here too!)

                                                                                                  1. re: lorisig

                                                                                                    That's where my manicotti recipe came from! Unfortunately SIL inherited the book itself.

                                                                                              2. I'm from Bensonhurst Brooklyn, now living in Florida and I too have been on this quest. I am convinced the missing ingredient is cream cheese...although I cringe at the thought. Nevertheless I am going to try it using the three parts impastata to one part cream cheese...along with the sugar and flavorings.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: JoDough

                                                                                                  JoDough, lol, I understand cringing at the thought, however, in January, I was in NC and had to make fresh cannoli. I couldnt find anything close to good ricotta. Even though I drained it for 2 days, was still too thin. I added 2 tbl of cream cheese and texture was perfect. Best part is that you could not detect the cream cheese.

                                                                                                  1. re: lorisig

                                                                                                    Try mascarpone instead of cream cheese next time; that did the trick for me recently. I actually did pretty much equal parts ricotta and mascarpone.

                                                                                                  2. re: JoDough

                                                                                                    I found the addition of the small amount of cream cheese did the trick!...and gave it that missing hint of tang. Mascarpone has great texture but doesn't have that tanginess.

                                                                                                  3. In our quest for the perfect cannoli, my sister and I dined at Antonio's on Cambridge Street in Boston. Perfection! Can anyone get that recipe from the chef? It had the hint of a magical ingredient that no other place had used. And it was not too sweet. Plus, NO chocolate! It looked plain, but a magic ingredient made it heavenly.

                                                                                                    1. Villa Bate in Brooklyn makes the Italian definition of cannoli in America. The ricotta is imported from Sicily and that makes a world of difference. Although I am unsure if they will sell you some outright, a phone call (or a visit) will be answer that:

                                                                                                      Villa Bate Alba
                                                                                                      7001 18th Ave.
                                                                                                      Brooklyn, New York 11204
                                                                                                      (718) 331-8430


                                                                                                      1. I forgot all about this thread. Just happens that I made cannoli-cream filled cupcakes last night. Having attempted cannoli cream numerous times before and not been happy, I decided this time I would succeed. I used 1 pound of ricotta, about half that of mascarpone, confectioners sugar, orange zest and the secret ingredient that I learned of here: cinnamon oil. It made a huge difference. While the texture was closer to what I am used to getting at my favorite Italian pastry shops (the mascarpone helped with that) the flavor was perfect. The cinnamon oil did the trick! Take note though: use only a few drops; that stuff is potent!

                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                          I learned that here too, it's a great "secret".

                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                            It really is! I used to use ground cinnamon, but it doesn't come close to using cinanamon oil. The cinnamon oil finally gave me that elusive flavor I had been searching for for years!

                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                              I've been discovering that with a few oils lately. Lemon oil is so much better than lemon extract for cookies too. I did try the cinnamon in something else although I can't remember what, you just have to remember that it's really strong!

                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                "you just have to remember that it's really strong!"

                                                                                                                Amen! I was so afraid of spilling that bottle in my kitchen. I think I would have to move if I ever spilled that stuff; it's potent!
                                                                                                                As for lemon oil, I never tried it, but I know using lemon zest in cookies (which contains the lemon oil) is far superior to using just lemon juice.

                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                  My lemon cookies have zest, lemon oil and lemon curd filling. Can you tell I love lemon?

                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                    OMG! I used cinnamon oil for the first time today. It did make a difference in the taste, but wow, it is potent! Thanks to all the tips here, I knew just to use a pin-drop. As soon as you open the bottle, the fragrance fills the kitchen.

                                                                                                                    1. re: lorisig

                                                                                                                      That's why I was so careful not to spill the bottle. Could you imagine that smell ever disipating if it did spill?
                                                                                                                      Glad it did the trick for you though. I can't wait to make my next cannoli-filling based dessert. Think I will try St. Joseph's pastries next!

                                                                                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                        Next up for me, Easter grain pie. Of course it needs cinnamon, time to try the oil here too!

                                                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                                                            Let us know how it turns out. I'm too afraid to try it. Ground cinnamon works nicely in the dough and i sprinkle some extra on top of the filling before it goes in the oven. But even that can be over-powering.

                                                                                                                            1. re: lorisig

                                                                                                                              You're right, I forgot that I put cinnamon in the dough too, so I might just do it as I always do. Just trying to think of other ways to use the oil before it evaporates on me ;-)

                                                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                I tried the cinnamon oil in the St. Joseph's Pastry. Just made the cannoli cream and filled an oversized cream-puff pastry. Topped it with a green cherry (for St. Patty's day) and chopped pistachios. It was perfect! No different than what my dad, (Joseph) would bring home on his name day every year, in Brooklyn.

                                                                                                                                1. re: lorisig

                                                                                                                                  Mmmmmm... So glad it worked! I didn't get a chance to make any for St. Joseph's myself, but I will do this eventually.

                                                                                                                      2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                        I had to throw out a batch of cookies that I used lemon oil in. I probably used too much, but they had a really nasty, bitter aftertaste. Lemon oil is something I approach with caution.

                                                                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                          All the oils are really strong; I tend to overpour with extracts, but with oils I follow the recipe to the T. Maybe an eyedropper next time? The lemon cookies above always come out perfect, luckily. 3/4 tsp only.

                                                                                                              2. Try allspice and lemon zest.alex guarnascelli has a nice recipe.

                                                                                                                1. Have you tried Alex guarnaschelli's recipe with cinnamon & allspice & lemon zest? Allspice blends with any recipe either sweet or savory. I would say hop on a plane to Brooklyn and talk to the bakers. Tell them you have a severe food allergy & need to know the ingredients. Good luck.

                                                                                                                  1. Real cannoli is not made with any type of ricotta or cream cheese. I had real cannoli when I was a girl and I would dine on them daily until they told me the simple basic ingredient.

                                                                                                                    As a girl I could not understand why that "ingredient" but now I understand.Now all of you are guessing. The real deal right here. I'll post some later.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: lillyblu

                                                                                                                        you need to go to Italy or Sicily and find out how the cannoli are made

                                                                                                                      2. This is the BEST recipe I have ever used for cannoli cream:

                                                                                                                        Cannoli Cream

                                                                                                                        16 oz Ricotta Cheese
                                                                                                                        8 oz Marscapone Cheese
                                                                                                                        1 cup Superfine Sugar
                                                                                                                        Zest of one Lemon
                                                                                                                        1 Tbsp Vanilla
                                                                                                                        1 cup mini Chocolate Chips

                                                                                                                        Blend together ricotta and marscapone
                                                                                                                        add in superfine sugar (if you can’t find superfine, use your food processor to make regular sugar into superfine. Do not let it become powder, that will be 10x and that makes the mixture too loose.) The secret to keeping the cream thicker is superfine sugar. 10x sugar makes the mixture too loose.
                                                                                                                        Add in lemon zest, vanilla and chocolate chips.
                                                                                                                        Refrigerate for 2 hours if possible, before using as filling for cake.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: nikinou

                                                                                                                          I had never heard about superfine vs. 10x sugar and the latter making a looser mixture. Fascinating. I will have to try this next time. Thanks!

                                                                                                                          1. re: nikinou

                                                                                                                            I made cannoli cream this weekend using superfine sugar instead of confectioners sugar. What a difference! You are so right. Thank you! I did not use the exact recipe you posted, but my own recipe I have developed over time and using superfine sugar this time. My best batch ever!

                                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                              Ttoommyy, please send me your recipe--or send us--as I am fiercely interested in seeing your recipe! THANKS.

                                                                                                                              1. re: roseoftralee

                                                                                                                                Ricotta (15-oz. container) and mascarpone cheese (250g container), superfine sugar to taste, grated zest of one orange, scant 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon oil and a handful of good quality mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate. Mix well and keep refrigerated until using. That's it really.

                                                                                                                          2. I was born and raised in Bensonhurst Brooklyn and now reside in Staten Island. My parents families are from Sicily. My Mom came to Brooklyn at 19 and my grandmother came to live with us when my older sister was born. I can kick myself for not getting all the recipes I grew to love, now they are both deceased. Recipes I did get are funny to read, a little bit of this and a handfull of that! My meatballs never quite came out like my mothers or grandmothers, that is until my hands were the same size as theirs! No kidding! Cannoli cream was not one of the recipes I was lucky enough to get. I do remember watching them make it and setting up the dough circles on the tubes. Some things I do remember is. Marsala wine was used for the shells. Fine granulated sugar was used for the cream (never confectioners) diced candied lemon and orange peel was mixed in later. Chocolate chips were put in sometimes, though according to them, it was the americanized version. Ground Cinnamon was used in the cream and the shell. The Ricotta was bought at Bari pork store, it was store made from sheeps milk. Villabate Bakery was the closest to the taste and texture and still one of my favorite. Belli Baci in Staten Island is a close 2nd. Not a fan of any of the other Bakeries I have tried here. There was no other cheese add ins.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: partycakesbyjoann

                                                                                                                              <<"Villabate Bakery was the closest to the taste and texture and still one of my favorite.">>


                                                                                                                            2. You need to find orange blossom water. That IS the secret ingredient!!! I know what flavor you mean. I have made the canoli filling and without it it doesn t taste the same. Its just sweet. You can buy it on AMazon or WHole foods or maybe evn Trader Joes. Amamzon has it for about $5 but shipping is $9.99