Dark Chocolate Cherry Cannoli

A dark chocolate & tart cherry cannoli.

Cannoli were a childhood staple dessert for my family, especially around Christmas time. In the crowded smoke-filled basements of Italian social clubs – the cannoli was the sole highlight of our extended family holiday parties, well besides maybe seeing Santa.

And while I’m still a fan of the classic cannoli – sweetened ricotta, dusted with powdered sugar and crushed pistachios – I decided to play around with some of my favorite flavors and settled on creating a dark chocolate chip and tart cherry cannoli. It’s a harmonious culmination of distinct flavors, where the sourness of the cherries and the bitter richness of dark chocolate are subdued by the sweetened creamy ricotta cheese. It’s feels at home as an after-dinner dessert or as an early morning breakfast paired with a black cup of coffee, where each crunchy bite of the fried cannoli shell and cherry & chocolate stuffed filling leave you wanting more.

Recipe Notes: Draining and straining the liquid from the ricotta is such an important step to ensure a creamy, non-grainy filling. With that being said, you also want to strain and get as much liquid out of the cherries for the same reason, or you might end up with a runnier than desired filling.

Time You Need

  • Resting: ~6-12 hours
  • ~1 hour of chilling
  • Prep: 20 minutes
  • Yields: 6-8 cannoli

What You Need

  • For the filling:
  • ~ 6-8 large cannoli shells, homemade or store-bought
  • 16 ounces of Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Neufchâtel cheese, room temp
  • 1/3 cup of powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 cups of tart cherries, chopped and dried with a paper towel
  • ~3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Other items: cheesecloth, piping bag, or ziplock with corner cutoff

What You Do

  • The waiting is the hardest part. First, take a fine mesh strainer and line it with a cheesecloth. Place the ricotta cheese in the strainer, and place the strainer over a bowl to collect drippings. Next, take plastic wrap and a paper towel to cover the cheese. Throw on something heavy, like a can of beans or jar of peanut butter to help weigh it down and help squeeze the moisture out of the ricotta. Ideally, you’d want to do this for around 6-12 hours in the fridge, or even overnight.
  • Once done, place the ricotta in a mixing bowl along with the room-temp Neufchâtel cheese and use an electric or stand mixer to beat the cheese until it’s smooth and creamy.
  • In the same mixing bowl, slowly beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  • Do a quick taste test and add in any additional sugar, vanilla, or lemon juice as needed. Feel free to toss in a pinch of salt for balance (totally optional).
  • Transfer to a smaller bowl and stir in the chopped tart cherries and dark chocolate chips.
  • Place in the fridge and chill until firm. ~1 hour or more.
  • Fill a piping bag – or ziplock – with the filling. Insert the corner tip into the cannoli shell and squeeze until the shell is about half-filled, then flip and fill the other side.
  • Repeat for the rest of the shells.
  • Dust the shells with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. And feel free to top with chopped pistachios, candied nuts, or additional chocolate chips.
  • Enjoy!
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