Cannolis are a magical thing. If you’ve ever bitten into one, you know there is no dessert like it in the world. They’re also a pain in the ass. If you’ve ever tried to make one you know you’d rather schlep 25 miles to the nearest Italian bakery, or even fly to Italy if you had to, rather than make the dough, roll it out, wrap it over pipes, deep fry it, then try to squeeze the filling in without breaking the fragile fried dough or getting mini chocolate chips lodged in the tip of the piping bag. It is a massive pain in the butt.
Anyone who knows me knows I love finding new recipes for food to take to parties to share. I’m the person who tries to always bring some kind of dish to a party. Because of this, I’ve discovered quite a few great potluck/party sharable recipes. One such recipe, is my low fat cannoli dip.
Cannoli shells are typically made of a few primary ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, eggs. And they are fried generally in vegetable oil, though I’ve heard of them being fried in crisco or melted vegetable shortening. Because they are fried, this makes them incredibly fattening. But you know what? A pizzelle cookie (the cookies that look like waffle cones) are made of the same main ingredients, and they are baked, not fried! I usually buy this brand, because this is the one carried at my local grocery store, but I’ve seen a wider selection at Italian delis and grocery stores. You could also make your own. Here is a fairly easy recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.
In addition to being better for you than the traditional cannoli shell, these are also more like chips, so they are much easier to share than a cannoli. Also, you don’t have to put the filling on top of them until the last second when you are about to eat them, so they don’t get soggy, which is great!
The filling is really super easy to make, unfortunately, it too is extremely fattening. It is traditionally made with ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and whipping cream as the main ingredients. In an effort to make this healthier, I use low-fat ricotta (ricotta generally comes in regular, part-skim, and low fat, with low fat being even better for you than part skim). I also do not use the heavy cream. The omission of the cream and the use of low fat ricotta does make the consistency a little soupier than normal cannoli filling, but that is okay for the dip, because you don’t have to worry about it staying inside shells. You can use a cheese cloth and be sure you drain the ricotta as much as possible, which will make the dip less soupy.
Next, you add powdered sugar to the ricotta. There really isn’t a work-around here. I’ve heard you can make a powdered sugar-like substance out of grinding granulated Splenda and corn starch, but I’ve never tried it for this, as I feel it would really throw off the taste.
Then you add mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. They have to be the mini ones. The larger ones are too much/too big for the dip. You then add a hint of vanilla, and mix everything together. Chill the dip before serving, as all the mixing and stirring will warm it up a little and make it runny.
For decoration/display, I usually use a large tray, and a small bowl in the middle, or a chip and dip tray. Spread the pizzells around like chips, and put the filling in the dip bowl. Then sprinkle the pizzells with a bit of powdered sugar, and sprinkle the top of the dip with more mini chocolate chips and (if you can find them, otherwise they aren’t necessary) chopped unsalted pistachios. You can also garnish with fresh fruit if you’d like. This makes a really great treat for dessert buffets.
- Pizzelle cookies
- One 15 oz tub of low-fat dessert ricotta cheese
- ½ teaspon of vanilla
- 1 cup of powdered sugar
- ½ cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- (optional) 2 tablespoons of unsalted pistachios, chopped
- Drain ricotta
- Mix ricotta, vanilla, and powdered sugar in large bowl
- Add chocolate chips, mix thoroughly
- Serve on chip and dip tray with Pizzelle cookies
- Sprinkle Pizzelle cookies with powdered sugar, and sprinkle dip with chocolate chips and chopped pistachios