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Cannoli Contest and some advice

Maybe lots of people know this but it's new to to me so I'm sharing for those of you who love a good cannoli. Regardless of where I buy the finished product, unless I eat it right then I find holding on to them even for a few hours diminishes the joy. so this week I decided to see if two bakeries would sell me the shells - we decided to "test" the shells and my homemade filling vs. Mike's classic cannoli filling. Bought shells at Royal in Cambridge and at Mike's. Mike's sold us the cream in a nice plastic bag that would double as a pastry bag. I made the filling for the Royal shells. Blind taste test: Royal's shells with my cream won! But really, we all won because the trick was filling them just before serving (and Mike's were darn good too!). So do try this trick at home. It works just fine.

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  1. just fyi, Modern Pastry also sells shells, reg size and mini. For me, i found that it (the success of the filling)all came down to the ricotta. WF sells a wonderful ricotta from NJ that is shipped to them wkly/biwkly; it's also found in various NoEnd outposts.

    1. BTW you can buy directly from Golden Cannoli cash and carry, but a box is usually around 72 shells or more depending on size. If you have the email addresses of a couple of chowhounds or other willing friends, it might not be too hard to find others to split it with you. Restaurant Depot is another option to buy in quantity, but why not buy local.

      1. What Itaunas is getting at below is that essentially none of the local bakeries actually make their own Canoli shells. Modern and Mikes honestly could not keep up with the volume.

        They are all made commercially.

        Heck, if you get em fresh from Golden Cannoli I bet nothing would beat that...


        4 Replies
        1. re: StriperGuy

          thanks for the info though I don't know when I'd need 72 shells! as for ricotta, I make my own, buy Capone's fresh, or settle for Vermont's Maple Farm.

          1. re: teezeetoo

            I bet if you poked your head in while they are actually making them they might sell you fewer.

          2. re: StriperGuy

            I have to say that Maria's shells seem really fresh, a cut above. My ideal would be Maria's shell and Modern's filling.

            1. re: teezeetoo

              There are several sources I know of for cannoli shells, which include Golden, Accardi, Bindi has something (probably far to expensive for a bakery and likely frozen/pre-filled), Famoso distributed something (probably local) but has been acquired twice, Restaurant Depot, possibly other Italian cookie bakers (several in the area), and certainly items distributed from RI and NYC. Bakeries will private-label for distributors, some businesses like to pick up items at the outlet, others want a middle-man to deliver, and yet others like to buy everything at one place or on a credit card, so don't assume anything outside trusting your own tastebuds. I personally know of 2 caffes which buy Golden shells, have seen their box in one bakery mentioned in this thread, and could guess a couple more retail outlets of their product -- so while I can recommend their product I am not stating that all the bakeries use the same item. In some cases its possible to correlate the items in a bakery case with one of the suppliers by selection and photos often help compare shells. BTW, the 72 shells is probably on the low end of a case and while they do keep well, if you want to do cash and carry I strongly recommend splitting probably with 8-10 hounds or friends.

          3. teezeetoo, would you mind sharing your ricotta filling recipe in the Home Cooking board?

            3 Replies
              1. re: teezeetoo

                Maria buys her canoli shells as well as the classic butter cookies (green, pink, chocolate and vanilla). Pop. I hear the balloon bursting.

                1. re: tweetie

                  I don't have a problem with Maria's or anywhere buying the cannoli shells. I just thought they seemed really fresh and light when I had them. If they're good, it doesn't matter to me where they come from.

            1. So...just to be clear...what I am NOT hearing on this thread is anyone's claim that the XXX Bakery/Restaurant/Gelataria/Oyster Bar makes their own shells (or, by way of corollary, has shells made only for them). Or are those who know different merely being quiet? If there are folks who are being quiet, please pipe up!

              The best cannolis I know of are not in this area at all, but the step-mom of the lady who runs the joint makes the shells. And that, plus great care in the restaurant's selection of riccota makes ALL the difference.

              So I am hoping that someplace, in a joint near/in Boston, cannoli shells are being made just for one place. And someone will tell us all about it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: hondodog

                Arthur's on Main Street in Medford makes their own cannoli shells BTW.

                1. re: itaunas

                  Have you tried them? If so, any thoughts?

              2. I've bought shells and filling separately from Modern Pastry before, and it's worked well. The custard didn't travel as well as the ricotta filling though....or maybe I just don't like Modern's custard.

                I agree with hondodog that it would be cool to know about any bakeries (or restaurants) that actually do make their own shells, only for themselves

                4 Replies
                1. re: Dave MP

                  FYI the Globe/boston.com published a cannoli article today with some information today on Golden Cannoli, including a video, and information on Modern's suppliers/filling which bear might be interested in. The article says the shells are fried in "lard," although the owner in the video says "shortening." Based on the video I would also wonder about the article's claim that the employees are "mostly Italian" as I see a lot of central american looking faces (not an issue for me, but if so give them credit) out of "only 24 employees," but obviously wasn't there when they did the interview. The video also mentions a capacity of 75,000 shells a day, but the article claims more than 100,000. Mike's apparently declined to be interviewed and they don't have anything from Maria's, although you can find some interesting videos from her on youtube. It also mentions Purity Cheese using raw milk and introducing it to directly to pasteurizing temperatures apparently from freezing temperatures (incidentally they don't talk about the difference between making ricotta from whey vs directly from milk which seems like an oversight if discussing traditional vs modern recipes and techniques).


                  1. re: itaunas

                    Yep, I also read the Globe article and was FREAKED OUT by the lard comment. What? For a moment there I believed my beloved cannolis might not be veggie friendly . Horror!

                    1. re: granolagurl

                      and re: the filling discussion, see my recipe on the home cooking board, which is pretty close to what I get when I'm in Sicily (though I can't quite duplicate the sunshine or the taste of sicilian lemons!)

                  2. re: Dave MP

                    The Carriage House in Bedford makes their own shells.