Mock Italian Cannoli with Pizzelle Recipe

Mock Italian Cannoli are a delicious (and far easier!) substitute for the real thing. Use rolled Pizzelle and fill with delicious vanilla ricotta cream.

Up until recently, my only exposure to cannoli was watching Curious George eat Chef Pisghetti’s cannoli with wild abandon.

Mock Italian Cannoli are a delicious (and far easier!) substitute for the real thing. Use rolled Pizzelle and fill with delicious vanilla ricotta cream.

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I knew it was a dessert (unlike my husband, Jim, who thought it was a type of cheesy pasta like Manicotti, because don’t all those names sound the same?), but that was about it.

One day, my friend Sarah and I were rambling on and on about food on a recent afternoon, the topic of cannoli came up. She mentioned how one of our favorite local Italian bakeries sells cannoli and that It.Is.Amazing. But we can do better, right? We vowed then and there to make our own authentic cannoli.

The Best Laid Plans

A super-thin, deep-fried crispy shell filled with sweetened ricotta cheese?! Yes please! I was immediately impressed and won over and on the same page as Sarah.

We had to do this.

And then, just as quickly, our dream was shattered. I started looking at recipes to see how this magic comes together, and I was a bit overwhelmed.

While reading comments on various recipes, I learned that wise cooks recommend you roll the dough out with a pasta maker to get it super thin. I don’t have a pasta maker, sadly, nor am I interested at this juncture in my life in rolling out cannoli dough with the pasta maker I don’t have.

It sounds, so well, PUTZY. I don’t always have the patience for these things. So, we were going to have to find another way.

An easy Pizzelle recipe for the classic Italian cookie. Lightly sweetened and flavored with vanilla or anise, they are perfect for holiday gift-giving!

Plan B: Pizzelle

In lieu of deep-frying wafer-thin shells, however delicious, we busted out one of my favorite Italian appliances: My Pizzelle Press.

I love Pizzelle Italian cookies because they are crunchy and delicious without being overly sweet. They are a great option for summer because you don’t have to heat your house by running the oven!

Because let’s face it, in SoCal, we have a couple more months of sweltering heat ahead of us yet and hopes of an el Niño event fade with each new report.

But I digress. Pizzelle cookies.

Yes. My Pizzelle press came with a 3/4″ wooden dowel; you wrap the cookies around it immediately off the press and hold them until they are cool enough to maintain the shape. I recommend using a towel so you don’t burn your fingers.

Roll your cookies one at a time, leaving the second cookie on the press with the press open while you work with the first. If you remove both at the same time, the second one will be too cool to bend by the time you get to it, and it’ll break in half.  <– True story.

Mock Italian Cannoli are a delicious (and far easier!) substitute for the real thing. Use rolled Pizzelle and fill with delicious vanilla ricotta cream.

Fill ‘er Up!

On to the filling! I also saw a lot of variations on the filling. Flavors such as cinnamon, allspice, and lemon (sometimes all three at once) were common in flavors.

They sound delicious, but I wanted something more basic. Just vanilla, please. Is that allowed? Since this is a mock recipe and not at all authentic, I decided to take creative license and scrap all fruity and spicy filling ideas and just use delicious vanilla.

I also used a little more heavy cream than most recipes call for because I didn’t want an overly cheesy filling. This is a dessert, after all. And I’m a Wisconsin girl by nature, so yes: More cream, please.

To fill the cookies, I used a disposable pastry bag fit with a large coupler and no tip. Squeeze the filling in one side of the cannoli, turn it around, and fill the second side. The filling might not go all the way through the middle of the cannoli, and that is okay. Sometimes real cannoli are like that, too.

Finishing Touches

I added some mini chocolate chips at the very end, both into the filling and as a garnish. Perfection! A light dusting of powdered sugar and Sarah and I were ready to open our own bakery. Not really. But the Mock Cannoli with Pizzelle and Vanilla Ricotta Cream are certainly delicious and much less labor-intensive than the original variety! Maybe someday we can tackle a more authentic cannoli, but for now, we are just going to eat and daydream about our next joint baking day.

5 from 5 votes

Mock Italian Cannoli with Pizzelle

Mock Italian Cannoli are a delicious (and far easier!) substitute for the real thing. Use rolled Pizzelle and fill with delicious vanilla ricotta cream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 424kcal
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vanilla divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter melted and cooled
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips plus more for garnish
  • Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. 
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Fold in heavy cream, cover, and refrigerate while making the cookies.
  • Preheat pizzelle iron and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, remaining 1 tablespoon vanilla, and baking powder.
  • Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter on the pizzelle press and close. Bake as directed by manufacturer or until golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Using a nonstick spatula, remove one pizzelle, leaving the second still on the open press, carefully wrap around a ¾” wooden dowel and pinch where the ends of the cookie meet. Hold until pizzelle is cool enough to retain its shape, using a kitchen towel if necessary to prevent burning your fingers. Repeat with second cookie on press and all remaining batter.
  • Remove filling from the refrigerator and fold in chocolate chips. Using a pastry bag fitted with only a large coupler and no tip, pipe the filling into each side of a cooled pizzelle. It is okay if the filling does not go all the way through the middle of the cookie.
  • Garnish with additional chocolate chips and dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serve immediately or chill until serving time.

Recipe Notes

This recipe yields 35 - 40 cannoli, or 2 to 3 per person. The recipe may be halved.
Recipe adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli.

Nutrition

Calories: 424kcal

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  1. Judy Csthcart

    Can you use almond flour instead of regular flour?

    1. meggan

      Hi Judy, I’m not sure. You could definitely try it. I haven’t made these with almond flour so I can’t say for sure! -Meggan

  2. Janice L Martin

    I have Celiacs Disease and I have to eat Gluten Free. I’m wondering if you have a gluten free recipe for the pizzelles?

    1. meggan

      Hi Janice! New plan, one that shouldn’t take quite so long! I picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten free flour today. I’ll use my existing recipe for pizzelles and just swap in the GF flour. Hopefully I can do this by the end of the week and report back! Stay tuned, thanks for your patience! -Meggan

    2. meggan

      Hi Janice, I don’t have a recipe for GF pizzelles, but I could work on it. It will probably take a couple of months, but I’ll put it on the list! Such a great idea. Thanks for the question. -Meggan

  3. I can replace Ricotta in this recipe by cottage or cream cheese to make this dish, can’t it? I run out of ricotta and i don’t know which substitute is better.

    1. meggan

      Yes you can! I think either one would be good. Cottage cheese probably has the most similar texture, but cream cheese probably has the more similar taste. Both would be good.

  4. Lydia Johann

    Sorry, But this is not a true Italian Pizzelle recipe. Never would one add baking powder or powdered sugar in the dough!!!
    Yikes!!!

    1. meggan

      I would never claim to know anything about authentic pizzelle, but I do appreciate hearing that the batter should not contain baking powder and powdered sugar. I obviously have no experience with authentic cannoli either. :) If you have authentic recipes for either that you’d be willing to pass along, I’d gladly take them! Thanks for your comments.

  5. Beth Maugeri

    When I called her out on the Photos she told me she took them but lets people use them

  6. Beth Maugeri

    Really should water mark these a lady is using your photos she will take their money and not even make them

    1. meggan

      Hi Beth, thanks for the head’s up. It’s kind of like playing whack-a-mole! I think I can find them through a google image search, though, so I’ll look into it. Thank you so much!!! And I can promise you that I never used anyone else’s photos, obviously. :)

  7. Denise

    I made the filling and it is runny, any suggestions on how to thicken this up.

    1. Maria

      You need t o let just your ricotta strain over night over cheese clothe in a bowl as it is high in water content and squeeze out the moisture frequently. Then once it looks dryer then It was assemble your filling as stated in recipe.5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Denise, if your filling seems runny, I would try to thicken it up by remove some of the excess liquid. You could pour the filling over a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve, some cheesecloth, or even pile it on paper towels. That should soak up some of the extra cream. I’m sorry you had that issue. Makes me wonder if there is variance among ricotta cheese, maybe some producers have more or less water than others. I should probably recommend using less heavy cream overall and adding more if the mixture is too thick. Thanks for your question and I hope this helps!

  8. Anna

    The real name is FERRATELLE , a tipical Abruzzo recipe. You can try also BRIGIDINI, this time a tipical Tuscany recipe that you can do with the same tool. bye ;-)

    1. meggan

      Hi Anna, thanks for these tips! I’ll research the recipes for sure. :) Always good to hear from a native! Take care.

  9. Sharon Russo

    How far in advance can the mock cannoli be made? And, what is the best way to store them?

    1. meggan

      Hi Sharon, here is what I would do if I wanted to make the cannoli in advance. I’d make all the components and store them separately and then assemble them at the last minute. The cookies will keep for a week AT LEAST at room temperature (air-tight container), and the filling should be fine for 4 or 5 days if not longer (refrigerated). I just wouldn’t assemble them until you need them because the cookies would probably get soggy after a day or so. Not as bad as actual cannoli, but I’m assuming after a while that would happen. I’ve never actually made these in advance. I do think if you made them in the morning and refrigerated them until the afternoon, that would be fine. I hope this helps. Good luck!

  10. Elizabeth LaBau

    My very own shout-out! I am blushing. :) I love your cannoli interpretation. Deep frying is all well and good, but I have a hard time believing the authentic shells are better than delicious pizzelle cookies. This is genius!5 stars

  11. Meggan, this is such a fun post! I’m all for cheat’s versions of things, especially if they end up looking as good as these. I saw an Italian chef make a similar filling for pancakes recently at a food show – he added chocolate sauce to his so I guess it’s more or less the same taste you end up with. I don’t have a pizzelle press but I do have a pasta maker … maybe I should give that version a try!5 stars

  12. Meggan, this is such a fun post! I’m all for cheat’s versions of things, especially if they end up looking as good as these. I saw an Italian chef make a similar filling for pancakes recently at a food show – he added chocolate sauce to his so I guess it’s more or less the same taste you end up with. I don’t have a pizzelle press but I do have a pasta maker … maybe I should give that version a try!5 stars

  13. Well you did an amazing job with these Meggan, they look awesome!5 stars

    1. Thanks so much, Matt! They were super tasty, a big hit with the guys around here. :)

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