Mock Italian Cannoli with Pizzelle

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Love Cannoli but don’t want to make and fry the shells yourself? Try this innovative variation with rolled Pizzelle cookies and sweetened ricotta cream instead.

Mock italian cannolis with pizzelle on top of a blue cutting board covered in powdered sugar.

This cannoli recipe uses rolled up Pizzelle (the flat, waffle-like cookies that are cooked in a press similar to a waffle iron) as a crispy shell for the cannoli.

Traditional cannoli shells are made from deep-fried pastry dough which is delicious, but I was looking for an easier way.

Equipment and ingredient notes

  • Pizzelle iron: Modern versions are just like a waffle maker: a silvery, shiny, beautiful waffle maker that makes cookies. I have this pizzelle iron (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link).
  • Vanilla extract: Or substitute anise or almond extract. For lemon, use 1 teaspoon lemon oil instead of lemon extract (lemon extract doesn’t have enough flavor).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Using a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. 
Learn how to make whipped cream with just 2 ingredients - 3 if you decide to add vanilla! It's an easy, delicious way to add a touch of homemade sweetness to cakes, pies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, trifles, drinks, and more!
  1. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta, powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Fold in whipped cream, cover, and refrigerate while making the Pizzelle cookies.
Mock Italian cannoli pizzelle filling in a glass bowl.
  1. Preheat Pizzelle iron and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter on to Pizzelle iron and close. Bake as directed by manufacturer or until golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Pizzele batter in a pizzele maker.
  1. 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.
A rolled piece of pizzelle.
  1. 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.
Mock italian cannolis with pizzelle on top of a blue cutting board covered in powdered sugar.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe about 36 cannoli (12 servings of 3 cannoli per person). The recipe may be halved.
  • Make ahead: The prepared cannoli shells will keep, unfilled, up to two weeks if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Unfortunately the shells cannot be filled in advance because the ricotta cheese filling will make the cannoli soggy.
  • Finishing touches: Sprinkle the ends of the cannoli with tiny chocolate chips, chopped pistachios, chocolate shavings, or finely chopped candied orange peel. Finally, give the outside a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Mock italian cannoli with pizzelle on top of a blue cutting board covered in powdered sugar.

Mock Italian Cannoli with Pizzelle

Love Cannoli but don't want to make and fry the shells yourself? Try this innovative variation with rolled Pizzelle cookies and sweetened ricotta cream instead.
Author: Meggan Hill
5 from 52 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 12 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Calories 612

Equipment

  • Pizzelle iron (see note 1)

Ingredients 

For the ricotta filling:

For the Pizzelle cookies:

For the mock cannoli:

  • 2/3 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips plus more for garnish

Instructions 

To make the ricotta filling:

  • 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 whipped cream, cover, and refrigerate while making the Pizzelle cookies.

To make the Pizzelle cookies:

  • Preheat Pizzelle iron and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Drop slightly rounded tablespoons of batter on to Pizzelle iron 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.

To assemble the mock cannoli:

  • 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 Video

Notes

  1. Pizzelle iron: Modern versions are just like a waffle maker: a silvery, shiny, beautiful waffle maker that makes cookies. I have this pizzelle iron (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link).
  2. Vanilla extract: Or substitute anise or almond extract. For lemon, use 1 teaspoon lemon oil instead of lemon extract (lemon extract doesn’t have enough flavor).
  3. Yield: This recipe about 36 cannoli (12 servings of 3 cannoli per person). The recipe may be halved.
  4. Make ahead: The prepared cannoli shells will keep, unfilled, up to two weeks if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Unfortunately the shells cannot be filled in advance because the ricotta cheese filling will make the cannoli soggy.
  5. Finishing touches: Sprinkle the ends of the cannoli with tiny chocolate chips, chopped pistachios, chocolate shavings, or finely chopped candied orange peel. Finally, give the outside a dusting of powdered sugar.

Nutrition

Calories: 612kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 15gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 272mgPotassium: 221mgFiber: 2gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 1097IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 245mgIron: 2mg
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Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. LO-CARB VERSION CAME OUT FANTASTIC!
    I substituted Splenda for the white sugar. Used Swerve (or Truvia) confectioners sugar for the confectioner sugar and Carb-Quick instead of flour (sifted, clumpy stuff removed). Also used half ricotta and half cream cheese (just cause I like cream cheese. I had to get the pizzelles off a little sooner cause they got too crispy to roll on the cannoli molds. After they cooled and held their shape I put them in my air fryer with the mold still in it for around 3 minutes which got them super crispy! They are about 1.6 net carbs each when using 1/2 cream cheese version and if using nothing but the ricotta they would be about 1.3 net carbs each. Carb quick has some hard chips in it, I think must be shortening which I removed by sifting it. Not sure if those would have interfered with the cute imprint on the Pizzelle Maker. They didn’t hold their shape real well in the air fryer without the mold.5 stars

    1. Hi Sylvia, I’m so glad! I love this! I haven’t used Carb Quick myself, so thank you for the tip on sifting. Thank you so much for the comment, I hope this helps other readers adapt the recipe for their sweet, low-carb needs! Thank you again! – Meggan

  2. I made them with gluten free flour. I am Italian and have not been able to have a cannoli for over six years! The recipe is fantastic! The first bite threw me off a little bit because my memory of a true Italian cannoli taste was testing me. These are definitely unique in their own but it only took me eating three to appreciate them for themselves! LOL! The shell was a perfect thickness. The filling mildly sweet with a lighter consistency then a traditional ricotta filling. I will definitely make these again and tweak the recipe a little bit in hopes to get that true authentic Italian taste! Thank you, Merry Christmas!5 stars

    1. Hi Cindy, 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). Hope this helps! – Meggan

  3. Oh man! This is such a GREAT idea! Just got into making pizzelles and was looking for new ways to use them. Thank you so much!5 stars

  4. Looks to me like you may need to re-read this recipe. How could you publish this recipe? It looks like the cookie recipe and cannoli recipe are written together!!!

    1. Hi Judy, they are written together because you make the cream first and while it’s chilling, you make the cookies. The recipe is a step-by-step to get that accomplished. I just read through it and it made sense to me, but I can add some category headings to make it clear. I’m sorry about that! Thanks for letting me know. -Meggan

    1. 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

  5. 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. 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

    2. 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

  6. 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. 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.

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

    1. 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.

    2. Hi,
      I am Italian and we do put baking powder in the dough for pizzelle. Also, the powdered sugar she uses is not for the dough but for the ricotta filling.

      I have to try this recipe. I also have a question for Meggan: I usually make my pizzelle with anise seeds – would this still be good to fill with ricotta or should I omit it?

    3. Hi Joanne! I think it would be delicious with anise seeds! Thank you so much for your comment, I hope you have a happy holiday! Take care! – Meggan

    1. 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. :)

    1. 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!

    2. 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

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

    1. 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!

  9. 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

  10. 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

  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

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