Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

cannoli, one of the best-known Sicilian pastries, originated in Palermo to celebrate Carnival but is now a year-round favorite. The name derives from canna, a noduled cane reed (Arundodonax) cut into sections and then used as a mold to fry the pastry shell. The batter is prepared with flour, eggs, sugar, aromatic wine, and suet, and then fried in hot oil until golden brown. The filling consists of sweetened sheep’s ricotta cheese, which is thoroughly sieved to make it creamy. Sometimes the cheese is flavored with chocolate or pistachio, or with small cubes of candied citrus peel, zuccata (candied pumpkin), or chocolate chips. Ideally, the creamy filling should be added just before eating to maintain its contrast with the crisp outer layer.