Sicilian cannoli with custard cream

Silvana Silvestro of Silvana’s Sicilian shares her recipe for Italian dessert classic, cannoli. Crisp pastry tubes are filled with creamy custard for a heavenly sweet treat

  • 1 hr cooking
  • Makes 12
  • Print


Pastry shell
  • 150 gram flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50 gram Marsala wine
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra for deep frying and brushing
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • icing sugar, to dust cannoli
Custard cream
  • 500 millilitre full-fat milk
  • seeds ½ vanilla bean
  • 50 gram caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 38 gram cornflour
  • 30 gram plain flour


  • 1
    Tip the flour onto a clean bench. Make a hole in the centre of the flour and add the egg, Marsala, sugar and vegetable oil. Beat the egg, wine, sugar and oil mixture with a fork and slowly incorporate with the flour until a dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature.
  • 2
    Feed the dough through the thickest setting of a pasta machine. Fold one end halfway up and then fold the other end over the top. Feed through the pasta machine then repeat the folding and feeding twice more.
  • 3
    Turn pasta machine to a thinner setting and feed the dough through again. Narrow the setting and repeat until you get to the thinnest setting.
  • 4
    Place the pasta on a floured bench and, working quickly, cut out 12cm circles until all the dough is used up. Gather up the dough scraps and feed through a thicker setting on the pasta machine, and then through the thinnest so you can cut out more circles.
  • 5
    Fill a medium saucepan around one-third full with vegetable oil and heat. Brush oil onto four stainless-steel cannoli forms (tubes). Wrap a pasta circle round each form, using egg white to seal circles.
  • 6
    Once oil reaches 180°C, place two cannoli forms in the pan to cook; don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown, remove with tongs and place on paper towels.
  • 7
    Repeat with second lot of cannoli forms, then slide cooked cannoli shells off forms. Brush more oil onto forms and repeat the whole process until all cannoli shells are cooked. Once cooled, sprinkle shells with icing sugar. Cooked shells will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
  • 8
    For the custard cream, place the milk and vanilla seeds in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves to prevent it sticking to the bottom. Continue to stir occasionally and heat until it reaches boiling point.
  • 9
    While the milk is coming to the boil, whisk the eggs. Sift the cornflour and plain flour onto the eggs and whisk until well combined and lump-free.
  • 10
    As soon as milk comes to the boil, take off the heat. Using a ladle, add one-third of the milk to the egg mixture and whisk until well incorporated. Add another third and whisk again. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk and whisk until well incorporated and lump-free.
  • 11
    Place the saucepan back on the stovetop on a low heat. Continue whisking until you see the custard come to the boil. Once boiling, remove from heat. Pour the custard into a bowl or container and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming as it cools. Once cooled, spoon custard into a piping bag, pipe into the cannoli and serve.

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