Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cannoli Cream Cupcakes

A distressing, culinary itch presented itself earlier this week - cannoli. (I have a long time love affair with cannoli, dating back to my adolescence when my parents took me to a favorite Italian restaurant every year for my birthday.) But even when I realized I could scratch the itch by visiting a local Italian restaurant, it wasn't enough. I had to take it further and do more than just eat a cannoli, or make cannoli or make a copycat recipe from the Internet. Oh no... just like most everything else in my world, I had to over complicate.

After several days of research and recipe reviews I concocted a recipe for cannoli cream-filled cupcakes, marrying several different ingredients and methods. Filled with classic cannoli ingredients like ricotta cheese, cinnamon and chocolate I was hopeful these would scratch my cannoli itch. And boy, did they ever.

Cannoli Cream Cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cupcake pans with a total of 18 cupcake liners. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract.

Measure the cake flour by spooning into a dry 1 cup measuring cup and level the cake flour with a knife. Combine the 3 cups of cake flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk flour mixture with a wire whisk.

Add the flour mixture and 3/4 cup buttermilk alternately to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing well after each addition, and beginning and ending with the flour. Use a standard size ice cream scoop to fill prepared cupcake liners. Bake cupcakes for 16 - 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Fluffy, and so pretty.

Cannoli Cream
15 oz. ricotta cheese (thoroughly drain in a wire strainer for at least 8 hours, or overnight*)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

*This is a step you MUST not skip.
Combine strained ricotta cheese and remaining ingredients until well blended. Set aside.

3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons half and half (or milk)
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Using a hand-held mixer, beat together butter, half and half, confectioners sugar and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold sugar mixture into whipped cream, careful not to over mix.

To fill the cupcakes, fill piping bag with cannoli cream.

Using a decorating tip (recommended Wilton Bismark Tip 230) hold filled bag perpendicular to cupcake inserting dip 1-inch deep into the center of the cupcake. Squeeze a small amount of cannoli cream into the cupcake. Set aside until all cupcakes are filled.

To frost the cupcakes, fill a clean piping bag with frosting. Using a decorating tip (recommended Wilton Star Tip 1M) frost each cupcake beginning on the outer edge, piping inward towards the center of the cupcake.

If desired after frosting the cupcakes, lightly dust with shaved bittersweet or semisweet chocolate shavings.

And when you take a bite, nestled inside the moist and slightly sweet cupcake is the cannoli cream filling.


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