Duluth, MN – Gannucci’s Italian Market, Part 2, Dessert

Gannucci's Duluth Minnesota CannoliCannoli is a dessert of Sicilian origin, generally a fried tube of pastry dough with a creamy, sweet filling that often contains ricotta cheese.  They seemed to have first appeared in the U.S. around 1900, developed by Silician immigrants with local ingredients.

Today, across the US, the original recipe has been modified far and wide, but the original (sometimes referred to in the US as ‘cannoli sicilian’), remains the standard.

It’s easy to find horrible ones, and not so easy to find great ones.  My brother, although widely-traveled, hadn’t had a good one before the other day, in fact described his first experience as akin to “eating a turd wrapped in a tortilla.”

He was encouraged to try and version at Gannuci’s on a recent visit, and fell in love with the pastry, wishing he could eat “ten of them” at a sitting.

For those of you who are adventurous types, and can’t get to Duluth, or locate decent cannoli nearby, here’s the basic recipe:


  • 1  15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
  •  3/4  cup powdered sugar
  •  1  teaspoon vanilla
  •  1  ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, grated
  •  4  ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  •  1  tablespoon shortening
  •  12  to 14 purchased cannoli shells
  •  3/4  cup finely chopped pistachio nuts
  •  1  cup whipping cream
    1. For filling, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until almost smooth. Stir in 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate. Cover and chill up to 6 hours.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat and stir 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate and the shortening over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl. Dip both ends of the cannoli shells in chocolate, letting excess drip off. Sprinkle chocolate ends with pistachio nuts. Place on a wire rack placed over waxed paper to dry (about 45 minutes).
    3. When chocolate is dry, in a medium bowl, beat whipping cream at medium speed of an electric mixer or with a wire whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold into the ricotta mixture. Spoon filling into a decorating bag fitted with a large round or open star tip (or spoon into a resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Snip off a small corner of the bag). Pipe filling into shells. Cover and chill up to 2 hours. Makes 12 servings.


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