Our extended family is blessed to include some wonderful Italians (the rest of us are all good German stock, so we appreciate the variety), and one of our Christmas traditions is to have a big spaghetti dinner together on Christmas day. A huge pot of spaghetti, another of homemade tomato sauce (my uncle always made it from his garden tomatoes), salad galore, and then peppermint ice cream, coffee, cookies, and crispy, creamy cannoli for dessert – yum! Is it any wonder I associate cannoli with Christmas?
To bring some Christmas cheer to everyone in the family who has decided to go gluten free, I adapted this recipe and made with Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix. I also baked the cannoli cups (since I don’t deep fry anything in my kitchen unless someone else is going to clean it.) They’re light, crispy, and a perfect two-bite size. I like a traditional ricotta filling, lightly spiced and just sweet enough. Ready to try it?
It starts with a light mixture of the dry ingredients – Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix, which is my go-to gluten free baking flour, sugar and salt.
Add melted butter and mix until crumbly and sandy, and then add beaten egg whites and mix it up again.
Then, a little grape juice and white wine vinegar and mix until the dough starts to stick together. Start with the minimum amount and add more a little at a time if it still seems crumbly and unable to stick together.
You can test by pinching a small amount, and seeing if it sticks together.
Divide the dough in half, wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 days. So handy to be able to postpone, in the busy holiday season!
Meanwhile, I like to mix up the cannoli filling. Mix together whole milk ricotta, spices, lemon zest, and powdered sugar (I use the minimum amount listed, but you can add a few extra Tablespoons if you like a sweeter filling.)
Whip up the heavy cream until fluffy and light, with soft peaks. Then fold the two together, cover, and refrigerate until the cannoli cups are ready.
Take your chilled dough and roll it out on a smooth surface lightly dusted with some extra Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix. I let it warm up for a little bit, or I found that it will crack. Once you have the right temperature, it’s really smooth and velvety; I think it’s a fun dough to work with! And since there's no gluten, the 2nd or 3rd batch you roll it is just as tender and delicate as the first.
Transfer the rounds to a mini muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray (mine was a coconut oil spray and it worked very well). Press the round evenly down into the sides and bottoms of the cups. Try to keep the tops even, but don’t worry – if you're like me, you’ll just dip them in chocolate anyway. Spray the finished rounds in the cups with an even coating of cooking spray--that helps make it all crisp!
Bake until golden brown and crispy, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. They're slightly delicate when warm, but I didn't have too much trouble. No broken ones for me to try this time. :)
When they’re completely cool, melt some chocolate chips and dip the tops. (To melt the chocolate, I used the microwave, heating 15 seconds at a time and stirring between, until melted. You can use a double boiler if you like.) Dip the warm chocolate-covered tops in a coating, like chopped pistachios, for an extra color and flavor kick. Let the chocolate set, and store these prepared cannoli cups in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Don’t fill them until you’re ready to serve!
When you are ready to serve, spoon or pipe in the ricotta filling, and sprinkle with chocolate chips, pistachios, and powdered sugar. My Great Aunt Katherine used to finish her cannoli with candied cherries, which would make a great Christmas-y color palette with the pistachios. These little bites are light and crispy, creamy, and sweetly spiced, and I bet they won’t last long at your house. Have a very merry Christmas--Italian, German, or otherwise!
Gluten Free Cannoli Bites
- 2 cups Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Multipurpose Baking Mix
- 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
- 2 large egg whites
- 2-3 Tbsp. grape juice or apple juice, or white wine
- 2-3 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- cooking spray (I used coconut oil, but any vegetable oil will work)
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips for melting (optional)
- 1/2 - 1/2 cup chopped pistachios for garnish (optional)
- 2 cups Ricotta cheese preferably whole milk
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or chopped pistachios, for sprinkling
- powdered sugar for dusting
Stir together Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Pour in melted butter and mix until crumbly. Add egg white and mix again until blended. Pour in juice and vinegar and stir until mixture begins to come together in a ball. (Pinch a piece between your fingers to see if it sticks together.) Add more juice and vinegar a little at a time if your dough needs a little more moisture to stick. Divide dough into two pieces, wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to 2 days. Preheat oven to 400°F during last 15-20 minutes of refrigeration. You may prepare filling (below) during refrigeration.
Spray a mini muffin tin generously with cooking spray. Then, roll one dough out on a surface lightly dusted with extra Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix. Roll very thin; about ⅛-inch thickness. Cut into circles using a 2-2 ½ inch cookie cutter or glass. Transfer each round into prepared muffin tin, pressing evenly into sides and bottom of each muffin cup. Spray tops evenly with more cooking spray. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until lightly golden (I like them crispy.) Remove from oven and transfer to wire cooling rack to cool. When cool, you may wish to dip tops in melted chocolate, and dip into coating (such as pistachios, toasted coconut, sprinkles, etc) and allow the chocolate to set.
To prepare filling: In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, spices, lemon zest, and powdered sugar. In another bowl, whip the heavy cream until fluffy, and soft peaks form. Gently fold into ricotta mixture. Cover and refrigerate until cannoli cups are ready. Then, spoon or pipe filling into cups and sprinkle with chocolate chips, chopped pistachios, and powdered sugar as desired. For best results serve within 1-2 hours. Store filling in refrigerator.
Prepared, unfilled cannoli cups will stay crisp in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 3-4 days, and can be made ahead. If you like a sweeter filling, feel free to mix in a few more Tablespoons of powdered sugar.
Cannoli cups recipe inspired by Cooking Classy
Filling Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network
Makes about 36-48 cannoli cups
You can find Gluten Free Cannoli Bites and other recipes from Hodgson Mill by visiting the Recipes page.