Cannoli are a highly regarded pastry all over the world because of their unique tubular shape, delicate flavours and combination of textures.
Although there are many versions of cannoli throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Sicily is commonly known as the origin of this pastry – particularly the city of Palermo, where it is a staple of any bakery.
Since our founder, Angelo and head pastry chef, Francesco have both worked in real Sicilian bakeries making cannoli, the company has strived to keep that authentic look, feel and flavour in our cannoli ever since our small beginnings here in Scarborough in 1994.
Up until just a few years ago, Francesco used to hand stamp all the cannoli shells. Needless to say, this was hard the arms – even for young man! The company invested in additional cutting equipment to make this process less hazardous for our employees.
Our most popular cannoli is extremely popular amongst our customers and wholesale buyers too. Like the original version we used to make in Sicily, it is a hand-made dough made from flour, sugar, cocoa and seasonings and wine, then rolled around and pinched onto a metal tube. This process allows the pastry to keep its tube shape when we quickly shallow fry the pastry.
After frying, the pastry is gently stacked and stored for use throughout the week. The wine in the pastry mix creates these craters or bubbles on the surface, which gives the cannoli their distinctive look and flaky – but still chewy texture. Nobody is sure, but this sounds like one of those accidental discoveries, like a Sicilian baker back in the day that spilled some wine in his dough and used it anyway.
As you might imagine, the shell is a lot more work than the cannoli filling. However, the technique and balance of a few simple ingredients are where a lot of bakeries struggle to get it right. Our cannoli filling consists of ricotta cheese, sugar, cinnamon oil and vanilla. The most important aspect of the filling is to make sure your ricotta cheese is the freshest it can be. Fresh product makes whipping the ricotta into a creamy smooth texture that much easier. Once you have that part mastered, the balance of flavour made up from the remaining ingredients then are gently folded into the filling and ready for piping into the cannoli shells.
It's cannoli, not cannolis.
Just to set something straight, when referring to multiple cannoli, you’ll want to say – cannoli and not cannolies, cannolis or any other variation. In Italian, it is correct to say cannolo as a singular, but it’s not commonly used here in Canada or the USA. So to avoid being immediately identified as a mangiacake, simply say – cannoli.
What is important here is the texture of both components. The shell should be a little flaky and a little chewy, while the filling should be super light and smooth. After the shells are piped full with the cheese filling, they will stay good for a couple of days at home in your fridge. However, the shells tend to lose some of their crispy texture as the ricotta cheese permeates the crust. This is one of the reasons why we are continually restocking our pastry display inside the store with freshly piped cannoli, so as to achieve the best possible texture.
You may see, on occasion, a few different variations of our cannoli, usually made with different flavoured fillings such as Nutella, lemon, chocolate chips, and more. In some of our cannoli, we even use a custard flavoured filling like butterscotch, or red velvet cake. During our 12 Days of Cannoli (Christmas) fundraising promotion, we really do get creative with fun flavour profiles. That being said, our hands-down best seller is the regular cannoli as we make anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 per week!
How to order cannoli from Francesca bakery:
If you want a dozen or less, we have these ready to go inside our bakery any time, and our staff are always piping more as needed. For larger quantities or catering orders, you’ll want to call ahead and schedule a pick-up. This way, we can time your product and have our retail and catering staff make sure your order is ready when you arrive. The cannoli can be held at room temperature for a few hours without degrading the product, but after that, we suggest storing it in your refrigerator overnight.