Last year I attempted to make a pumpkin cannoli but my filling was too loose even with straining my ricotta cheese it wasn’t as thick as I wanted, so I took to the web looking at recipes for classic cannoli’s to see why. I found several Italian peeps saying the trick was to make your own ricotta cheese which results in a much drier version. I’ve never had an itch to make homemade ricotta until I watched various videos on YouTube. Wow, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how super easy it is; so I took to it, and I made just a small batch. As often in life I got busy/lazy and my ricotta ended up draining in the fridge for 2 days which I was not at all mad about, as it resulted in a nice thick almost cream cheese like consistency.
Now- I know most bakers will not want to make their own ricotta, so note that you can still make it but make sure to let your purchased ricotta drain until as much of the whey has drained off. I like Polly-O brand ricotta cheese. To drain just line a strainer with cheese cloth and dump in the ricotta and place the strainer over a narrow but deep bowl and place in the fridge to drain.
I admit I used pre made cannoli shells; I was lucky to find these cute mini shells from a local market where I live. I look forward to playing around in the future with making my own, but I don’t have cannoli tubes and I was more interested in knocking these out and playing around with the filling to get it just right.
Pumpkin Cannoli Filling (this will fill enough mini cannoli for 12-13) 0r 6 standard size
3/4 C homemade ricotta cheese (or strained ricotta cheese as per above)
3 Tbsp. canned pumpkin puree
3/4 Cup + confectioners sugar, sifted (depending on sweet you want your filling)
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
In a medium bowl place all the ingredients and using a silicone spatula gently mix to combine. Keep the mixture chilled until ready to use.
place a small amount of white chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave until melted.
dip the ends of each end of the cannoli shells into the white chocolate and then dip into cinnamon sugar. Place the shells onto a sheet pain and let them firm up; about an hour. If you like, you can use finely chopped nuts of your choice such as pistachio or pecans instead of cinnamon sugar or do a mixture of cinnamon sugar and nuts, or even sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Make it your own.
cinnamon sugar: mix 1/4 Cup granulated sugar with 1 scant Tbsp. cinnamon to combine.
Place the pumpkin cannoli filling into a pastry bag and snip off the tip and fill each end of the cannolis. You can sprinkle some confectioners sugar over the top of the cannolis right before serving if you like.
Homemade ricotta cheese:
4 Cups whole milk (do not buy ultrapasteurized)
3/4 Cup heavy cream
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar (I used lemon juice)
In a medium pot place the milk, cream, and salt and over low medium heat heat up the mixture SLOWLY until it reaches 200 degrees F, then immediately remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice (or vinegar) and let sit for about 10-15 mins untouched. You will notice that the curds will float to the top. Line a strainer with double thickness cheese cloth and place over the same pot or a bowl. Let it sit at room temperature on the counter for about an hour. Then gather the cheese cloth and gently squeeze to remove some of the liquid; don’t worry about trying to remove all of the visible loose liquid; as the fridge time will remove the rest. Place the draining set up in the fridge overnight or as I did; for 2 days to let all the excess liquid /whey drain off. You will use 3/4 cup of the strained ricotta cheese for the filling recipe above; any excess enjoy spread on toast with a drizzle of honey or other various ways. Note; if you want a lot more; simply double the recipe.