For the cupcakes: Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees F. Line 24 regular-size cupcake pans with liners.
Combine the flour, orange zest, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 8 minutes. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and orange oil to the mixer. On low speed, gradually alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until smooth.
When the mixture is smooth, divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake liners. Bake until lightly browned and fully cooked through, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
For the filling: With a large wooden or metal spoon, mix the ricotta, confectioners' sugar, chocolate and orange peel in a medium bowl until combined.
For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. In small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream and sugar to a boil ensuring the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the cream and sugar mixture over the chocolate and let sit 5 minutes. Gradually whisk until smooth. Cool completely.
For the almond cream: In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream, sugar and almond paste until the cream is firm enough to pipe on the cupcakes but not too stiff and buttery.
To assemble: Cut a small hole the size of an apple core in each cupcake and fill with the cannoli cream. Pipe a small amount of ganache on the entire surface of the cupcake and do the same with the almond cream. Top with toasted almonds.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. The Food Network Kitchens have not tested it for home use, therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
Recipe courtesy of Michele Kenno, Cupcake Wars, 2011