Daring Bakers - Go Italian!


I'm probably not the only one singing Alabama 3 today. I'm a lousy singer. For once I'm happy there's no way you can listen to me singing I woke up this morning / Got myself a gun, Mama always said I'd be / The Chosen One. Over and over. It's The Sopranos theme song, of course. My favourite version is actually sang by Leonard Cohen. The perfect soundtrack for this month DB challenge!

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.


Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 cannoli

2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar

Note – If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 – 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve, fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

My thoughts on the challenge:
- My cannoli are actually stacked cannoli (aka Cannolipoleons) because I couldn't find the forms and didn't manage an alternative.
- Deep frying is definitely not my thing, so I've halved the recipe. Again! No problems to report here.
- I went for chocolate cannoli which was the probable cause of having to add a little extra liquid (white wine + 1 tsp walnut oil). I was very pleased with the result. Thanks for the challenge Lisa Michelle!

Beautiful cannoli can be found all over The Daring Kitchen!


Mini quiches for a friend's blogiversary

Flores caranguejo e lima

In their typical way of getting to the subject, Danish say the road to a friend's house is never long. Specially when the invitation to cook comes in such a nice way and the occasion calls for celebration. I don't fancy flowers or candies when I'm invited to a friend's place but today is an exception and I bring flowers to Moira. They're edible and I couldn't stop myself: in the way here I've had a couple... Luckily my home is just around the corner or there would be no flowers left for the party. Happy blogiversary to Tertúlia de Sabores!

Flores caranguejo e lima

Mini Crab-Lime quiches
Lightly adapted from O livro essencial dos aperitivos, KÖNEMANN.

12 mini quiches (or a large one)

2 small eggs (or a large one)
150 ml coconut milk
1 tsp lime jiuce
casca de 1 lima, finamente ralada (pode usar-se limão)
120 grs canned crabmeat, drained
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
12 square sheets shortcrust pastry*
a dash of colorau or sweet paprika (optional), to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200°C. Butter muffin pan and line with the pastry squares. Beat eggs lightly. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix. Season with salt and pepper freshly ground. Fill each shell with the batter to 2/3 of its capacity. Sprinkle with colorau. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve warm.

* Shortcrust pastry is a breeze to make with a food processor. Combine 150 grs plain flour, 75 grs chopped cold butter, 1 tsp sugar, a dash of salt in the food processor bowl and pulse to mix all ingredients. Add 30 ml chilled water and pulse whilst doing that until a ball forms. Remove the pastry from the food processor bowl to a floured surface. Knead lightly to form a circle. Cover with film and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out and cut circles (about 8 cm wide each). Wrapped in cling film, uncooked shortcrust pastry dough will keep for up to two days in the refrigerator or can be freezed uncooked.


A cake for a special occasion


I'm not good with special days like birthdays or any sort of anniversaries. They make me want to raise my arm and ask silly questions like 'why today' and not tomorrow or why not yesterday. I used to do the same when I was a kid going to schools with a strong religious inspiration, and asking the most profane questions. Lucky for me, my teachers were always kind with a 7 year old with a sharp tongue. I haven't changed over the years. I forget my friends' birthdays or I'm simply late, I mix up the days or the months... So why celebrate today and not tomorrow? It's not everyday you realize you've been blogging for 2 years. I don't quite remember the first year passing by, I admit. It was that good. I'm grateful for the wonderful people I met, I'm grateful for all that I've learnt and all the great experiences and happy days I had because of food blogging. So grab your fork, the cake is served! ;)

Birthday cake

Cotton Cake
Adapted from Tachos de Ensaio

250 grs plain flour
200 grs caster sugar
70 grs vanilla sugar
150 grs unsalted butter, room temperature
400 ml milk
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
5 egg whites (about 150 grs)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. You'll need one large and two medium bowls. In a medium, sift flour and baking powder. Set aside. Using a second medium bowl beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
In a large bowl, cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add one third of the dries. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dries, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dries. Beat just until the batter is smooth. Gently fold the meringue without beating. Pour the batter into a greased, lined with parchment paper cake tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before halving it.

1 cup sugar
250 ml water
¼ cup cherry liqueur (I used ginjinha)

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add cherry liqueur. Cool completely before using.

200 ml single cream
200 ml milk
150 grs sugar
2 yolks
2 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped

Combine milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, yolks and sugar until fluffy. Remove the bean from the milk mixture and fold in the egg mixture. Cook until thickened, stirring with a whisk. Sieve if needed before using.

Berry compote:
1 cup mixture of berries such as blackberries, raspberries, red currants fresh (or frozen)
2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Boil for 2 minutes. Reserve until completely cool.

Assemble the cake:
Half the cake with a sharp knife. Pour the syrup over the bottom part. Spread the filling with a spatula, allowing about 1 cm all around. Place the compote on top (do not use any utensil to do it, just pour as evenly as possible). Cover with the other half. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with fresh red currants.

This cake is better eaten the day or the day after it's done. Keep in the fridge.