In Francis Ford Coppola’s, ‘The Godfather’, gangster, Peter Clemenza, exits his car on a desolate country road to take a piss, leaving his colleague and his enemy in the car. A gun shot is heard after which his fellow gang mate exits, the driver remaining behind with the contents of his skull exhibited on the steering wheel. Before departing from the scene of the crime, Clemenza forcefully reminds his friend to fetch the intricate package of cannoli he purchased earlier for his loving wife. This was my first visual encounter of cannoli.
At this stage of my life, I had never heard of nor seen a cannoli and my obsession with this film only exacerbated my longing to taste one. And so I headed to Sicily- home to this little cream-filled pastry tube and of course, Don Vito Corleone, the original Godfather (though I’m always at war with my thoughts- should it be Al Pacino?).
When that crisp, bubbly, golden cylinder of a pastry shell stuffed with sweet mother-of-Mary-cream-cheese touched my lips, that was it, I couldn’t go back to a life lacking in cannoli. Albeit, my recipe is not true to the Sicilian version considering there is no ricotta cheese nor any sign of deep-frying, but if you can never have less than 3 pieces, there will come a time when you simply get a heart attack and die, so I need to take this into consideration.
Pastry shell ingredients:
• 50g sugar
• 50g coconut oil
• 50g ground almonds
• 50g plain flour
• 2 tbsp golden syrup or honey
• 250g chickpea flour
• 60ml rapeseed oil
• 250g sugar
• 1 pint almond milk
• 7-10 cardamom pods ground
- Heat the oil, sugar and honey in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved
- Bring up to boiling point then remove immediately from the heat
- Stir in the flour and almonds to achieve a smooth, creamy, slightly stiff batter
- Place the batter onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper a teaspoon at a time, ensuring there is at least 3 inches of space around the periphery of each circle
- Bake at 180C for 7-10 minutes
- Remove and allow the shells to harden ever so slightly as they will still be bubbling and fluid-like as soon as they come out of the oven
- Using a spachelor, carefully lift them from the tray and wrap the flat case around the end of a kitchen utensil or neck of a wine bottle, or anything that resembles either of these artefacts!
- Once hard, the cases should now be in the form of an open-ended tubular shaped case, ready to be filled.
- For the filling, In a saucepan, combine the oil and chickpea flour and roast for 5 minutes whilst stirring.
- Whilst still on the heat, add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to get rid of any lumps and bring to the boil. The mixture will still be quite runny at this point.
- Continue to heat and stir for at least another 10 minutes to cook the chickpea flour and thicken the mix.
- Once cooled it will thicken a bit more, but will still be at the appropriate consistency to either pipe or spoon the creamy mixture into the shells
When you’re ready to eat, stick on The Godfather, get out the limoncello and tuck into your plate of cannoli.