"When the family finds out that Gatto helped Virgil Sollozzo and the Tattaglia Family set up Vito to be assassinated, Sonny orders Clemenza to kill him. Clemenza considers Gatto's actions to be a personal insult, having personally groomed him, and is more than happy to have him taken out. He decides to use Lampone, then an associate, on the hit to give him a chance to "make his bones." After Lampone kills Gatto, Clemenza - who has left the car to relieve himself - utters (to Lampone) his most famous line in The Godfather: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
Totally understandable, who would ever leave a cannoli behind?!? I personally love myself a cannoli or two, but it can be hard to find really, really good ones in Seattle...so I had to resort to making my own. And I truly prefer my homemade version - they are filled with a non-traditional cream...not that there's anything wrong with the Italian version, but in my humble-quarter-Italian-opinion, sometimes the cheesy-ness of ricotta gets in the way of the experience of eating a cannoli.
To have a perfect cannoli experience, one must bite into a slightly crisp shell scented with Marsala wine, just enough to give way to a subtle chewiness, so slight that if you're not concentrating you might miss it and sink straight into the cream filling, which will undoubtedly ooze out the chocolate coated ends...so one hand must be ready to catch the escaping dollop of cream so it can be licked into place! About the cream...there isn't any mascarpone or ricotta cheese in my filling, mainly because I want to bite into a cannoli and not have anything jump out at me...I want the flavors to meld and sometimes the tart taste of mascarpone is a little jarring...I don't want to know I'm eating cheese...I just want to enjoy it. (Oh, I also don't put chopped pieces of cherries in my cannoli or anything else that will detract from the pure pleasure of biting through the crisp shell to the cream...Holy cannoli - it just doesn't get any better than that!) Does that make sense? I hope so, because I feel like my work here is done...I have just passed on my greatest bit of knowledge to you...and now it is up to you to decide how best to use it. May I suggest often?
Cannoli tubes are available at Sur La Table and most high-end kitchen stores. Once the cannoli dough is fried to a deep-golden brown the tubes are removed and the cannoli shell slides right off...it's basically magic...slick as a whistle, so to speak.
These cannoli shells are small, usually most cannoli shells are about 4 to 5-inches long, these were just around 2-inches long, perfect for two small bites with one catch of cream for licking - always the best part.
Dipping the ends of the shells in chocolate is completely optional, but it shouldn't be...they are so much better with the chocolate and if you really wanted to get cannoli-crazy, you could roll the ends in chopped pecans or pistachios! O Solo Mio!
Cannoli take a bit of work to make, but it's fun work and the raves they receive will make it worth every second. I've made cannoli several times in the last few months - I was practicing to make them for a wedding but eventually it dawned on me that I couldn't make cannoli and do the flowers and the flowers won. Cannoli are not hard to make - there are just a few steps, making the shells (which after they are fried, can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for up to a week, so you can fill them later). The next step is the filling and it comes together in about 6 minutes and once it's scooped into a Zip-lock style bag, it can be squirted into the cannoli shells so fast your head will spin! (If you're interested in a more authentic Italian filling, with ricotta cheese and marscapone, then click here, this filling recipe is excellent, for an authentic taste.) All that's left to do is the final step...eat them! Make them for your next special night - say Thursday night when you're watching your grandkids play for the last time before they get on a plane and leave Friday morning...now that's special!
Cannoli - Shell Recipe Adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Network, Filling From Pots and Pins
For the Shells:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup Marsala wine
For the Filling:
2 cups half-n-half
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
You will also need:
1 quart canola oil for frying
extra flour for rolling the dough
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
powdered sugar, for dusting
To make the Cream Filling: Heat half-n-half, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When the half-n-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk a couple of tablespoons of the simmering half-n-half into the yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture into the half-n-half in the saucepan; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set. At least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
To fill the cannoli: Just before serving, use a pastry bag without a tip to pipe the cream into the cannoli molds. Fill the cannoli shells from both ends so the cream runs through the whole shell. Dust with powdered sugar. Powdered sugar gives that little extra sweetness and added texture to the exterior. Serve immediately, Makes about 2 dozen, 2-inch cannoli.