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April 6, 2018

Cannoli cake a fun spin on Italian classic dessert

Photo/Ellen Fox Emerson
Before learning of my gluten-intolerance, I never would have dreamt of making many of the foods that come out of my kitchen these days.

For example, I simply went to a bakery for cakes and pastries or to a grocery store for pasta and English muffins.

Perhaps taking this to the extreme, I love the challenges creating and sharing recipes for foods not readily available in gluten-free form.

In my cookbook No Sacrifices, I have a recipe for cannoli, and they are delicious.

Several years ago, while still working on the book and visiting New York, a friend took me to Little Italy for dinner. We ate at Cha Cha’s, a favorite among locals. John Ciarcia, the owner also known as Cha Cha, had character acting roles in movies Goodfellas and Hoffa. But, Cha Cha earned more notoriety as Albie Cianflone, part of Phil Leotardo’s crew on The Sopranos, the HBO blockbuster series that ran six seasons. Of course, I didn’t realize that when meeting him, although he looked familiar.

My friend showed him my book, and he zeroed in on my recipe for cannoli. He deemed it almost perfect but noted that mine lacked the secret ingredient for authentic cannoli: cinnamon. I since revised my recipe, which has produced lots of complements.

Lately I’ve come across recipes for cannoli cakes and thought making one would be far easier. Although very similar in the amount of time required, the cake doesn’t require use of deep fat fryer.

I seldom boast about my recipes, but this one really deserves praise. I hope you enjoy it.


Cannoli Cake

Cake
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1-½ teaspoons vanilla
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
1-1/4 cups gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare two 6-inch cake pans with butter and flour.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time and combine well. Blend in the vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk. Occasionally scrape down the bowl while mixing.

Divide the batter between the pans and bake 35 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Filling
1 cup drained ricotta
1 cup mascarpone
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling, beat the ricotta and mascarpone until smooth. Add in the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest and salt. Beat until blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the frosting initially beat the butter and sugar on low until mixed. Increase the speed to high and beat until creamy, light and voluminous 3 to 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and orange and then the cream and mix until well blended.

Ganache
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream


For the ganache, scald the cream and then add the chocolate chips. Remove from heat and whisk until chocolate and cream completely blend. Let the ganache cool to room temperature and pouring consistency

With all steps complete, it’s time to assemble the cake.

Slice each layer in half, horizontally with a serrated knife. Divide the filling into three equal parts. Cover each of three layers with the filling and leave the top layer for the frosting.

Frost the top and sides of the cake. Once frosted, pour the ganache on top. Cover the top of the cake and allow the ganache to drip down the sides.

> Click here for information about Ellen’s cookbook, No Sacrifices — Entertaining Gluten-Free

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