Cannoli cakes

Remember the days of your youth when you stayed up ’til all hours of the night, ate what you wanted when you wanted, wore what you wanted and walked on the wild side every day? Well, times do change and these days the wildest things we do are…

…order a flavored cup of coffee and maybe watch Letterman once a week. No more six-packs for me, not in the fridge and certainly not on my abs. My clothes are chosen to cover rather than reveal, and my attempts to get my groove on and dance to ’80s music are met with eye-rolling and sighs of “REALLY, Mom?!” Yep, time marches on.

But I can still have my wild side. I recently ate octopus tentacles; bought er, um, “erotic” chopsticks (TOTALLY BY ACCIDENT, I SWEAR!) and I tried a hot sauce that, as David’s father used to say, “burned the lint right out of my navel.”

I love to try new things, new foods, and meet new people. I’ve often said if I were to go back to high school I wouldn’t sit in the back of the classroom and never raise my hand. I would sit right up front and answer every question I could, and ask every question I could think of. I would join groups and teams, and soak up every bit of knowledge thrown at me. Cliché but true, life is too short to waste.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a bit fussy about some things. I don’t like my foods to touch on the plate; carrot cake has carrots and raisins, period (sorry, PJ); and I still can’t bring myself to go past my waist in the ocean. “Jaws” had a very powerful effect on me.

I don’t get freeform jazz or most rap music, but I have given both a try. And that, dear folks, is my point for today. Give it a try. It may be different from what you’re used to, but if you never try it, you’ll never know if you missed out on something great. That being said, I’m going to take a deep breath and invite you to mess with Italian tradition (gasp!) and the beloved cannoli (double gasp!).

Let me state up front first I’m not Italian and I LOVE cannoli. I’ve had delicious homemade cannoli from my Italian sister-in-law, and amazing cannoli in the North End of Boston. I’ve had really bad cannoli in New Hampshire, and made my own cannoli in Vermont. I get cannoli cravings, and if cannoli is on the menu anywhere I am, I’ll order it. So, what made me decide to take on this most sacred of Italian desserts? It’s simple. I’m afraid of frying.

Even though my fry-phobia led to creating this recipe, I love it for itself. It’s fast, easy, and really, really tastes like cannoli. When that cannoli craving hits, I no longer have to hunt up a source; I can have cool and creamy cannoli flavor, pistachio and chocolate crunch, all in about an hour. Interested?

Cannoli Cakes are within easy reach, so let’s go!


Beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until thick and increased in volume.


Pour in the melted, cooled butter, and blend gently.


Add the flour and fold in. Again, be gentle. The batter will be medium consistency – not too thick, not too thin. As the little girl once said, “Just right!”


For easy filling of your mini pans, pour the batter into a liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout.


Place a dozen mini paper brioche pans on a parchment-lined baking sheet and spritz with cooking spray. If you don’t have the pans this time around, you can use a 12-cup muffin tin.


Pour in the batter, filling each cup about 2/3 full. This particular cake isn’t light and fluffy; it’s more like a pound cake in texture, so it doesn’t rise as much as others.




Bake the cakes in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the edges and a cake tester comes out clean. If you baked in a muffin tin, be sure to remove the cakes from the pan and cool them on a rack. If you leave them in the pan they’ll steam, and you’ll end up with soggy bottoms.


Must…resist…cute..little…cake… at least until the topping is made!


In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, confectioners’ sugar, pinch of salt, and vanilla. Stir until well combined and smooth.


Fold in the whipped cream. Cut down through the mix with your spatula…


…then turn it slightly to bring up topping from the bottom of the bowl to the top and fold it over. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn, and repeat until the cream is mixed in completely and the topping is lightened in texture.


Remember to use a medium bowl. As you can see, a small bowl just doesn’t cut it. Oh well, I never claimed to be a tidy baker!


Simple syrup or liqueur brushed on the cakes will keep them nice and moist. You could skip this part, I suppose, but it really adds so much flavor it would be a shame to miss out.


Using 1/4 cup of liqueur or syrup, brush each cake once, then each cake again and again until all the liquid is used up. Now, on to the home stretch.


Mmm, lovely, salty pistachios. I was lucky to have an extra-big bag because I ate half of them while shelling. Depending on how much crunch you want, you can leave them in large pieces and just crush the nuts a bit with a rolling pin; or you can run them through the food processor to finely chop them. I chose to finely chop them, but saved out a few pretty green whole nuts for decoration.


Fold in the chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips. I like the topping/filling chock full of goodies, but if you like more cream, you can certainly use a bit less of the add-ins.


Use a muffin scoop or large spoon to add a heapin’ helpin’ of topping to each cake. Decorate with additional nuts, candied peel, or more chocolate, if desired.

Refrigerate before serving. The cakes will definitely keep overnight, but the nuts begin to lose their texture after that. If you want to hold the cakes longer, you can make both the cakes and the filling, refrigerate the filling, and store the cakes tightly covered for up to 2 days, then assemble just before serving.

So, break from cannoli tradition and be a rebel. Cost of a new Harley Davidson: $25,300. James Dean’s classic white T-shirt: $15,000. Cannoli cakes in less than an hour: priceless!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Cannoli Cakes.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Beth @ 990 Square

    I’m not Italian, but I do frequent an excelent Italian bakery, Vacarro’s, here in Baltimore. This recipe seems very similar to the Casada Cake that they sell, except in cupcake form 🙂
    Yes, I’ve never had Casada cake, but Sue in the test kitchen said the cannoli cakes reminded her of Casada cake. Guess I’ll just have to take a trip to Baltimore. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  2. toneriko

    hey , i like this recipe , it looks like delicious ill make it soon , best wishes to me, and thx for the best recipes i saw

  3. susie

    Erotic chopsticks? I’m so past my wild days that I can’t even figure out what those are. And when I searched Google, this blog entry was the third result!

    The cannoli cakes look awesome!

    Let’s just say I focused on the pretty colors of the chopsticks not on the graphic design of the end papers. It wasn’t until I showed them to a friend at dinner that he told me to look closely at the design. I nearly DROPPED right there! Of course the girls got the biggest kick out of the fact that I bought them, and had to text all of their friends. I’ll never hear the end of it! ~ MaryJane

  4. toontz

    Wonderful post, right down to the recipe. My husband, (having Italian blood) loves cannoli. I never cared that much for it, but rethinking that since viewing this recipe…it sounds delicious! His birthday is in a few weeks…looks like I found the perfect “birthday cake”.
    Oooh, wouldn’t he be so surprised! Sounds like a good plan to me. ~ MaryJane

  5. Kimberly in OH

    Cannoli are my absolute favorite dessert! I’ve been lucky enough to have outstanding cannoli in North Boston on two separate occasions. I can’t wait to try this recipe. The hubby and I will be in Baltimore in April, so we’ll have to try the Casada cake at Vacarro’s, as well. Their website states they have all-you-can-eat coffee and dessert on Monday nights!
    Does all-you-can-eat include the ones you are going to stuff in your purse and mail to me, overnight? 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  6. Noreen

    OK, this looks wonderful, but I wonder if I could make this jelly roll style? What do you think? Would that cake stand up to or be flexible enough for such an application? Give me your thoughts please, because I think these would be wonderful on my easter table, but I like the idea of the roll. Thanks so much!
    Hi Noreen,
    This particular cake won’t roll, it’s much too dense, but you could take the cake recipe from the Buche de Noel and use that as your base. Use this filling and you’d have a very nice Cannoli rolli. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  7. Becky in Greensboro

    I just love cannoli!

    However, liqueur tends to languish in my cabinet leading to disposal a few years later.

    Would adding orange oil or extract to the simple syrup be a good flavor substitute? (My intuition says a little almond flavor would work well with the orange, too.)
    Hi Becky, you can add either a few drops of oil or some extract to a simple syrup to flavor it. Orange or almond would be very good with the cannoli filling. ~ MaryJane

  8. Dee

    I am so glad to hear someone else is in that same category (post wild faze, even if our kids do not believe it) & it makes me laugh to imagine erotic chopsticks!! ha! These cakes look like they could be habit forming. Frankly anything with pistachios has my vote. Bravo!!
    Thanks Dee. Yes the cakes are addictive, especially the filling. And no, I’m not going to be posting any chopstick pics anytime soon! 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  9. Clare

    Can I make this using KAF’s new gluten-free flour mix?
    Hi Clare,
    I haven’t tried making this cake gluten free, but I’m sure you could use your favorite gluten free vanilla cake as a base for the cannoli topping and enjoy a very similar treat. ~ MaryJane

  10. Jessie @ simplysifted

    This is a genius idea! On Monday I decided I wanted to try making my own cannolis. I looked up a recipe and as soon as I realized the shells had to be deep fried I gave up on the idea. I have such fry phobia too! This is such a great alternative. I’m going to have to try them this weekend.
    I hear ya on the frying. I have to have my husband David nearby for moral support if I fry anything, it just makes me nervous. Hope you enjoy the cakes! ~ MaryJane

  11. Jessica

    Don’t be scared of frying! Seriously! Cannoil shells are simple if you’ve got the tubes. I’ve fried WAY harder things. It doesn’t splatter hardly at all. Plus if you cool the oil and pour it back into the container it came in, there’s little mess and worry.

    Try it or look at your grocery in the cookie aisle- many on the top shelf near and end they sell boxed cannoli shells ready to fill. Most will probably be broken from shipping but they taste perfect for a quick cannoli fix.
    Thanks for the pep talk Jessica. I have lots of cannoli forms and have fried them in the past, but you’re talking to a girl who has cut herself to bleeding on a piece of toast (yes, TOAST!) and sports many, many burn scars, so I’m still a big chicken at fry time. mmmm, fried chicken… 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  12. pity

    abosolutely brilliant idea, i love cannolis, and this twist is awesome, well done, cheers from london
    Ooooh, you are from London, so I can just hear the way you would say “brilliant!” It’s so much fancier when you all say it. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  13. Erica

    I’ve been trying to bake with artificial sweeteners and sugar blends with little success. A cheesecake I just tried split in two directly down the middle. Any suggestions or tips? Have to say my “new” challenge is kind of fun! Great post

    Cheesecakes that split are usually an indication of overmixed batter. Use the paddle attachment instead of the whip if using a stand mixer. Some bakers like a water bath or other moisture in the oven (pan of water on the lower rack), or suggest baking until middle looks set but still wet. Leave in the oven for 5 minutes to one hour with the door propped open to let it cool gradually – this sometimes prevents cracks as well. As for the sugar replacements….contact the sweetener or sugar blend company directly to see what their test kitchen or baking pro’s suggest for baking tips. Irene @ KAF

  14. Lisa

    Okay so making these RIGHT NOW! Any chance I could convince you to try Swedish Princess Torte? Pretty please?
    I will pass this suggestion on to our test kitchen-you never know! Joan @ kAF

  15. yipeiokyay

    I don’t like cannoli but my co-workers do and I enjoy baking for them. I will definately make this for them soon…right after I make jalapeno cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo!
    Wow! Sounds like you have a spicy day planned. Maybe the cannoli can be the cool-down factor? ~ MaryJane

  16. Margy

    Mmmmm, cannolis! I can imagine this as a layer cake with chocolate ganache poured over the top. Vaccaro’s–Wow! They make the Italian cookies and pastries that your Italian nonna wished she could make! They actually sell the ricotta cream by the tub and broken cannoli shells separately–cannoli chip ‘n dip! Right in the middle of Baltimore’s Little Italy, so you can have your pasta pig-out, then get a little exercise when you walk to the bakery for dessert. BTW, it’s spelled cassata cake (at least at Vaccaro’s).
    I love the idea of cannoli chip n dip. I love all kinds of dip, and that would just be perfect with a good book or good movie & the girlfriends. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

  17. Esther

    I’ve never had a cannoli yet; there aren’t any here in Manila. But, I have to say that you’ve piqued my interest. Your recipe might just hook me on to cannolis. Thanks again for an excellent blog and recipe.

  18. Kim

    I’m really excited about this recipe. I’m with you on “if it’s on the menu, I order it” and unfortunately with “had some bad ones in [insert half of the US states here]”. I’ve made my own and loved them and the search for a good cannoli will probably continue for the rest of my life. Still, I can’t wait to try these at home and feed that dream of finding the perfect one. Hey, a girls gotta dream, right?
    Kim, it sounds like we are cannoli soulmates. I really hope you enjoy the recipe, and here’s to finding the perfect cannoli. ~MaryJane

  19. Christine B

    Hi! These look so fantastic! I think I might have to make some this weekend….do you think you could make the cake in a cake pan and top with the cream instead of individual cakes? If so, what size pan would be best, do you think? I have a vision of a layer cake, split and filled with the cream, then topped with more cream and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips and pistachios…yum!
    This is a small amount of batter so try an 8 in pan or smaller if you have. Bake at the same temperature. The bake time will be around 20 minutes. This should look beautiful as a cake. Joan @KAF

  20. Elizabeth S.

    I have to say I love a good cannoli and these looks so good. I will have to try them very soon. I have to laugh about all the comments about Vacarro’s I live in the DC area and have been to there kiosk at Union Station and am not impressed at all. If you want great cannolis and are in Connecticut check out Meriano’s Bake Shoppe in Guilford, CT. Fantastic!

  21. Fran

    Oh my!!!! My DIL is wild about Cannoli. She went to NY on business and tried to eat every one she could find. She’ll flip! My DH is having a birthday and I’m having a group over – guess what I’m serving for dessert! I have some mini brioche pans – I guess I can spray them really good and they’ll work.
    Sounds like fun to me. Need my address to send me any leftovers?? 😉 ~ MaryJane

  22. cindy leigh

    slightly off topic but…..
    I don’t like frying either, because of the extra calories. I’ve often wondered if large pizelles could be shaped into a cylinder and filled with cannoli filling. Or maybe bent in half, taco-style, and filled?
    You can absolutely make shells out of pizelles, just wrap them around cannoli forms, or even a large wooden dowel.

  23. Barbara

    Yummy, they look awesome. I have to try them since lately all my baking went to the neighbors. My family didn’t like anything. I love your instructions, the pictures are great!. great recipe!

  24. Kat

    Oh my!! I’m also a cannoli lover and I’ve been known to just eat the cannoli filling out of the shell. I will have to try this recipe real soon.

    In answer to Christine B’s question about making a cake instead of the cannoli shells, I think your maryanne cake pan would be just perfect for that.
    Hi Kat, I’d have to agree with you that a maryann pan would be great for making one cake rather than cupcakes. The indentation would hold plenty of filling. ~ MaryJane

  25. Katie

    I just read one of the posts further down the page about not wanting to buy big bottles of liqueur for the recipe. I am the same way I never use a big bottle and it just sits and sits and sits but I found that at liquor stores you can often find the tiny bottles that you so often see in mini bars in hotels near the counter! They are the perfect size (and price!!) for when you need to add something to a recipe you wouldn’t normally keep in the house.

    Katie, that’s what I do when I just want a tiny bit of a liqueur. They’re called “nips” in New England – not sure about the rest of the country. But they always seem to be right there at the checkout counter at the liquor store, and they have more and more kinds all the time. Worth checking out when all you need is a “nip.” 🙂 PJH
    And, it’s a great way to try new flavors. My mom used to put them in our stockings, when we were older, of course! ~ MaryJane

  26. Janie

    I just tried making the recipe. I used one cup of whipping cream, and then whipped it. It seems like way too much whipped cream. Was it supposed to be 1 cup after whipping the cream?

    I love the little cakes. They have a great flavor especially with the Triple Sec.
    Hi Janie,
    Nope, it’s one cup of whipping cream, whipped. When the comma comes after the measurement it means you measure, then perform the task after the comma. Like one cup of flour, sifted is measured then sifted, but one cup of sifted flour is sifted before measuring.
    As always, if you prefer less cream, you can tweak to your taste. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  27. Dina

    There were some comments about whether this would work as a single cake, rather than small individual cakes. I’m happy to report that it works just marvelously! I took Christine B’s idea and ran with it, making one 8″ round cake that I then split into two layers with the cannoli filling between the layers. I iced the cake in the remainder of the filling, poured chocolate ganache (also a KAF recipe) over the top, letting it drizzle down the sides, and rimmed the top of the cake with pistachios, also making a little pistachio star at the center. I didn’t put pistachios in the filling (because that’s not how the cannoli’s I grew up with came) and, as expected, it took about 20 minutes for the cake to bake all the way through.

    I’m a decent baker, but by no means experienced or “great,” but the recipes I’ve found here are so well done and thorough that everything I’ve tried has turned out spectacular. Thanks for all your work and effort.

  28. Brenda

    I hate waiting! Cake’s in the oven, homemeade ricotta in the fridge, one cup with simple syrup & orange oil and one with simple syrup & almond flavoring, pistachios shelled & chopped, cream to be whipped shortly, and I DON’T WANNA WAIT to try the finished product! –Uh, oh; cake’s starting to smell yummy, so guess it’s time to go check.

  29. susan blair

    Oooh, ladies…

    I’m also a cannoli addict, but the making of the shells has always deterred me. The idea of tiny cakes in paper brioche pans with a scoop of filling on top just sets my mind whirling. For a “bite” at the end of a special meal, how about slicing the cake horizontally & placing a melon ball scoop of filling on the slice? Of course, you would serve the dainty delight in a stemmed champagne coupe for a special effect.

    My question is: would I use the same amount of mascarpone as whipping cream & to what consistency would I whip it?

    It’s another grey gloomy day here in GA, my 88 yr old father has been in intensive care for 2 weeks & this recipe & comments have really lifted my spirits. THANKS.
    Hi Susan,
    I’m so sorry to hear that life has been rough for you lately, and I’m glad the blog could help, even if just for awhile.

    Now, to use mascarpone in the recipe, switch it out for the ricotta and reduce the whipping cream by 1/4 cup if needed to make the filling scoopable. I love the idea of the champagne flute. Cannoli parfait anyone?

    Best, MaryJane

  30. Jo

    The recipe looks yummy and the pictures are very good…I like it that they are baked…i am not sure I can last long after I have made those yummy little cakes….will let you know how it goes for me.


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