- 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries, chopped
- 2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
- 8 ounces ricotta, homemade or store-bought, well drained (1 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) mascarpone, homemade or store-bought, cold
- 1/4 cup toasted pistachio nuts, chopped
- 8 large or 12 mini cannoli shells, homemade or store-bought, recipe follows
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, for garnish
Soak the dried cranberries in the amaretto in a small bowl for 30 minutes.
Combine the ricotta and sugar in a small bowl and whip until smooth. Add the mascarpone and stir to incorporate. Be careful not to overmix, or the mascarpone might separate. Fold in the pistachios and dried cranberries with their soaking liquid.
Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe the mixtrue into the cannoli shells. If you don't have a pastry bag, put the filling into a plastic bag, snip off 1 corner, and squeeze the filling out into the pastry shells. (Do this close to serving time so the shells won't lose their crispness.) Refrigerate until serving time.
Prepare a sanitizing solution of 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon of household bleach.
Rinse a large stainless steel or enameled stockpot or soup pot with the sanitizing solution and pour the milk and cream into the pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring as necessary with a sanitized spoon so the milk doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice. Continue stirring slowly until the milk curdles and white curds float to the top. Remove from the heat and cover. Wait for 5 minutes while the curds solidify slightly and become firmer.
Rinse a colander and a large piece of muslin or several layers of cheesecloth in the sanitizing solution. Wring out the cloth to release the excess water. Line the colander with the cloth and set the colander in the sink or over a large bowl.
After about 15 minutes, lift the edges of the cloth toward the center of the colander to loosen the cheese from the cloth and facilitate draining. If the ricotta is still too liquid and runny in texture after 30 minutes, gather the edges of the cloth together using 1 hand, wrap a piece of kitchen string around the gathered cloth to form a bag, and tie it closed. Hang the bag containing the cheese from the faucet or the handle of a kitchen cabinet door and allow the excess whey to drip from the bag into the sink or a bowl.
If adding salt, transfer the ricotta to a sanitized bowl and stir in the salt. Place the ricotta in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Use within 5 days.
Yield: 3 1/4 cups
Cut the egg roll wrappers into circles 4 inches in diameter. Roll the wrappers around mold or pieces of aluminum tubing that are 1-inch in diameter and 4 1/2 to 5 inches in length. Moisten the overlapped flap of dough with water to seal each wrapper.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot but not smoking, about 350 degrees F. Add the shells, still on the tubing, and fry, turning with tongs as necessary, until golden brown and cripsy on all sides. Remove immediately, using tongs, and stand the tubing on end on paper towels to drain. When cool, slip the cannoli shells off of the tubing.
Yield: 8 large or 12 mini cannoli shells