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Kate’s Espresso Martini Cannoli

A delicious mix of coffee and chocolate, these cannoli shells are made with a touch of espresso and have an inner coating of dark chocolate. For the filling, dark chocolate ganache, more espresso and a dash of coffee liqueur are added to the traditional ricotta and mascarpone.

Makes: about 24

Hands-on time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Frying time: 1 minute (each)

Skill level: Up for a challenge

For the cannoli dough:

220g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon finely ground espresso coffee

30g caster sugar

30g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced

80ml Marsala wine

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 medium egg white, for assembling

About 2 litres sunflower oil, for deep-fat frying

For the espresso martini cream filling:

300g full-fat ricotta cheese

100g icing sugar, sifted

150g mascarpone cheese

200ml double cream

1 teaspoon finely ground espresso coffee

50g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

4 teaspoons espresso liqueur (such as Kahlua)

To decorate:

150g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

24 chocolate coffee beans

You will also need:

Pasta-rolling machine

10cm plain round cutter

Deep-fat fryer plus cooking thermometer

Heatproof tongs

At least 3 cannoli tubes (about 10cm x 2.6cm), lightly greased with sunflower oil

Large disposable piping bag


Step 1 – Make the dough first so it has time to rest: sift the flour, ground coffee and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in using the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the mixture. Add the Marsala and the vinegar and mix everything together with a round-bladed knife to make a firm dough. Turn it out onto your worktop (lightly dusted with flour) and knead thoroughly for about 5-8 minutes, until smooth and pliable. Wrap in cling film and leave on the worktop to rest for 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Meanwhile make the filling: drain the ricotta in a sieve then put into a large mixing bowl with the icing sugar and mascarpone. Beat well with a wooden spoon or electric hand whisk until very smooth and creamy. Cover and chill until needed. Pour the cream into a medium-sized pan, add the ground coffee and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the mixture boils. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot cream on top, then the liqueur and stir gently until melted and smooth. Leave until cool but still fluid, then mix into the cheese mixture. Cover and chill until needed.

Step 3 – Clear a large space on the worktop and set up the pasta-rolling machine. Divide the dough into 4, take 1 portion and re-wrap the others. Flatten the dough to a thick disc and run it through the widest setting on the machine. Fold it in 3 and re-roll, then repeat. If the dough starts to tear or stick, dust it and the machine with flour. Dust the worktop with flour then roll the dough through the second widest setting. Keep reducing the setting each time you roll the dough so it gets thinner and longer each time, until you finally reach the thinnest setting.

Step 4 – Place the strip of dough on the floured worktop. Dip the large round cutter in flour and stamp out discs of dough. Depending on the space available, you may prefer to roll, cut, shape and fry the cannoli in 4 batches, or roll and cut all the dough then shape and fry in batches. There should be enough to make 24 ‘good’ shells, plus at least 3-4 extra to allow for mistakes and breakages. The trimmings can be discarded – or, if necessary, gathered up into a ball, re-rolled and used to make more shells (though these cannoli won’t be as tender as the initial batch).

Step 5 – To shape and fry the cannoli: heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer to 180°C and have to hand the heatproof tongs and a wire rack covered with kitchen paper towels. Roll one dough disc around a cannolo tube and carefully brush the join where the 2 edges overlap with a dab of beaten egg white – don’t let the egg white touch the tube or it will make removal tricky. Using the kitchen tongs, carefully lower the tube into the hot oil and fry for 1 minute or until crisp and golden. Remove carefully using the tongs and leave to cool on the paper-lined wire rack.

Step 6 – When cool enough to handle comfortably, ease out the tube – don’t touch the shell or tube until cool and use the tongs if in doubt. This is your trial cannolo; use it to test technique/cooking time/cooking temperature and adjust as necessary. Cook the rest of the cannoli in batches of 3 so the fryer isn’t overcrowded, making sure the oil comes back up to temperature each time.

Step 7 – Gently melt the chocolate for decorating in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of steaming hot (but not boiling) water – don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir it until very smooth and fluid. Carefully brush the inside of each cannolo shell lightly with melted chocolate and leave to set at room temperature.

Step 8 – When ready to fill and serve, transfer the filling mixture to the large piping bag. Snip off the tip to give a 1.5cm opening then pipe the filling into both ends of each cannolo – making sure the filling runs all the way through, but not over-filling the fragile shells or they will collapse. Pipe a small dot of filling on top of each shell and place a chocolate coffee bean on top. Arrange on a serving platter. Dust with icing sugar and serve.