New Jersey: Cannoli Cookies

New Jersey’s cookie is a sandwich cookie incorporating cannoli shell crumbs, chocolate chips, orange zest, and a ricotta-based cannoli filling.

Recipe source:

Cannoli are one of those foods I always think I like more than I do. “Ooh, cannoli!” I think, take a bite, and go, “oh, wait…” I don’t DISlike them, I just don’t enjoy them as much as I expect to. And yes, I have had a legit cannoli at Mike’s Pastries in Boston so I’m not basing it on mass-produced supermarket specimens.

The cannoli shell crumbs were optional, but luckily “cannoli chips” are available so I bought some of those.

Here’s a way to crumb up thin things: put them in a zip bag and roll over it with a rolling pin (you can also give it a few thumps).

I just love zesting with my Microplane. Isn’t that gorgeous?

After the gray of winter, we could use a sunshiney punch to the eyeballs.
Beat until light and fluffy
After adding the flour

The cannoli crumbs were already pulverized enough, so I was good and folded in by hand.

The dough had to chill, so I moved on to the filling. Unfortunately, the dough took up the zest of my remaining good orange (three were moldy) so I had to use a clementine for the filling zest. It does have a different flavor, stronger I think. I tried a little of the filling and the combo of the zest and a chocolate chip produced an anise flavor. I’m not an anise fan so I worried, but it didn’t taste like that in subsequent taste tests.

I thought I would need two until I saw the amount of zest I got from one.
The filling

The recipe said to scoop and roll balls two tablespoons in size. I filled my tablespoon scoop with water to see if two equalled the next size up that I have. It did, but it was going to make a gigantic cookie, and the recipe yield said 10 cookies, so I decided to go with the tablespoon scoop for a larger amount of smaller cookies.

These had a nice little bit of a shine to them.
I rolled the first batch into balls and then completely forgot for the rest, so they look a little more rustic.

Even after chilling, the filling seemed a little runny, so following what I would do for buttercream, I added more confectioner’s sugar to try and thicken it up…

And it did the opposite! What the heck?

I went to the internet for answers:

Oh ducky… 😫

This called for 1 3/4 cups of ricotta and a cup of confectioner’s sugar, and I added maybe a cup more in my stupidity.

One piece of advice was to drain the ricotta by lining a strainer with cheesecloth and letting it sit overnight (this before making the filling) and to fix runny filling by letting it sit at least half an hour.

I ended up having to lay out the cloth after and scrape the solids off with my bowl scraper.

Things were still a bit runny, so I turned to other advice: adding a thickener. Corn starch seemed like it would taste too starchy, and while I do have almond flour, it isn’t very fine, and another suggestion had already caught my eye: “dessicated coconut.”

Time to break out my recent frenemy:

High fiber, absorbs lots of liquid? Yes!
That’s more like it!

Coconut flour, I am so glad I bought you by accident. You may not have made the best pie crust but you saved me this time. I only used a tablespoon and could not detect any flavor of the coconut.

Overall impressions: I like them more than any cannoli I’ve ever eaten. The cookies are soft, like a dense cake. I worried about the filling being cloying, and it is sweet, but not overwhelming. The chocolate is always good, of course, and the citrus flavor is more pronounced than I expected. I’m already planning on making them for Easter dinner with my family (using my mistakes and lessons from this time to improve).

Tips and suggestions:

  1. Drain the ricotta overnight in the fridge in a cheesecloth- or tea towel-lined sieve placed over a bowl.
  2. Scoop by tablespoons.
  3. Roll and flatten the cookies before baking. They turned out a bit round when assembled.
  4. Decrease the confectioner’s sugar in the filling to half a cup, adjust to taste from there.

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