Brandy Snap Cannoli


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    Twelve to fourteen

    4 to 4½ inch cookies

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C for the brandy snaps; 300°F/150°C for the pistachios
Baking Time 7 to 10 minutes for the brandy snaps; 7 minutes for the pistachios

Cannoli reign supreme among Italian pastries. I have adapted this recipe from one given to me many years ago by Sanford D’Amato of Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sanford has elevated cannoli to a new level of refinement. I much prefer the buttery and brandied caramel flavor and delicate chewy-crisp texture of a brandy snap shell to the traditional fried pastry shell. The mascarpone pastry cream filling is also lighter than the traditional ricotta filling, and the dried currants and dried cherries that replace the usual citron or candied fruit add a welcomed tartness. The burnt orange color of the brandy snap shell and the bright green pistachios that garnish the piped cream filling peeking out from the edges make these cannoli as elegant visually as they are refined in flavor and texture.

Plan Ahead The cannoli shells, the pastry cream, and the pistachio garnish can be prepared 3 days ahead. The shells should not be filled more than 2 hours ahead of serving to maintain crispness.


Pastry Cream

Makes ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/5.9 ounces/166 grams

½ large egg tablespoons (23 ml) 0.9 ounce 25 grams
cornstarch teaspoons . 7 grams
half-and-half ½ cup (118 ml), divided 4.3 ounces 121 grams
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons 0.9 ounce 25 grams
vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or pure vanilla extract) ½ inch piece (or ¼ teaspoon/1.2 ml) . .
fine sea salt a pinch . .
unsalted butter 1 teaspoon . .

Special Equipment

Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, nonstick or lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray (avoid insulated or cushioned sheets) | One ¾ inch diameter dowel or cannoli mold, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray | A large pastry bag or gallon-size reclosable freezer bag, fitted with a ⅝ inch star pastry tube


Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Make the Brandy Snap Batter

See recipe.

Bake the Cookies

Bake for 4 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets halfway around and reverse their position from top to bottom. Continue baking for 3 to 6 minutes, or until the cookies are a deep golden brown and filled with holes.

Shape and Cool the Cookies

Set the cookie sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool on the sheets for about 1 minute or until they can be lifted without wrinkling but are still flexible. Use a pancake turner to lift each cookie from the sheets, shaping it before removing the next one so that they stay warm and flexible.

Roll each cookie loosely around the dowel, with the smooth bottom side against the dowel, so that its edges just overlap enough to seal. The wrapped cookie shell should be no more than 1 inch in diameter. Leave the dowel in the cookie and press down firmly on the seam against the dowel for a few seconds.

As soon as it is rolled, place each cookie, seam side down, on another wire rack to cool. If the cookies become too rigid to roll, return them briefly to the oven. If a cookie begins to sag while cooling, reshape it to a cylindrical shape. Alternatively, if you have more than one dowel, leave the dowels in the cookies until they harden enough to keep their shape.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Make the Cannoli Filling

See recipe.

Make the Pastry Cream

Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a small bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cornstarch. Gradually add 2 tablespoons/30 ml/1.1 ounces/30 grams of the half-and-half, whisking until the mixture is smooth and the cornstarch is dissolved.

In a medium saucepan, place the sugar and vanilla bean pod. Use your fingers to scrape and rub the seeds into the sugar. Stir in the remaining half-and-half and the salt. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a full boil, stirring constantly. Whisk 2 tablespoons of this hot mixture into the egg mixture. Pass the egg mixture through the strainer into the small bowl.

Bring the half-and-half mixture back to a boil over medium heat. Remove the vanilla pod (rinse and dry it for future use). Quickly add all of the egg mixture, whisking rapidly. Continue whisking rapidly for about 20 to 30 seconds, being sure to go into the bottom edge of the pan. The mixture will become very thick. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter. (If not using the vanilla bean, whisk in the vanilla extract.) Immediately pour the mixture into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray directly on the surface of the cream to keep a skin from forming. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes, then refrigerate until cold.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C.

Fill the Cannoli

Up to 2 hours before serving, place the filling in the prepared pastry bag and pipe the mixture into the brandy snap shells. To make a decorative star finish, as you reach the end, gradually ease the pressure as you pull the tube away. Pipe another star into the opposite end. Sprinkle the ends with the chopped pistachios and dust the shells lightly with the powdered sugar.


Room temperature, 2 hours. (The completed cannoli filling can be refrigerated for 24 hours.)

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