Chocolate Chunk Cannolis

from Eggs on Sunday

For the shell dough:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
scant 3/4 cup Marsala wine
2 quarts canola or other flavorless oil, for frying

For the filling:

30 ounces whole milk ricotta, drained overnight in a colander lined with cheesecloth
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup finely chopped chocolate, plus more for sprinkling on the ends of the filled cannolis
chopped pistachios, for sprinkling on the ends of the filled cannolis
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

cannoli forms (can be found at Sur la Table)
a pasta machine or pasta-making attachment for your electric mixer
deep-fat frying thermometer
4-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter (or other round form that can cut 4-inch circles)

The day before you’re going to make the cannolis, drain the ricotta overnight in the refrigerator, either in a fine-mesh seive over a bowl or in a colander lined with cheesecloth — basically, anything so that the excess liquid can drain out of the ricotta.

The next day, mix together the drained ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and chocolate chunks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

For the shells: mix together the flour, sugar, and pinch of salt. Mix in the melted butter and Marsala wine, continuing to mix until a dough comes together. Knead the dough by hand for a few minutes until it is smooth and supple, then wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2-3 hours.

When you’re ready to make the cannolis, start heating your oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until it comes to 350 degrees F. Divide your shell dough into quarters, and working with a quarter at a time, roll it through the pasta maker a few times on the widest setting, folding it back over on itself after every pass through. This just smooths the dough out a little. Once you have a smooth, flat piece of dough (shouldn’t look shaggy at this point), keep passing it through the machine, cranking down the opening size to be a little narrower each pass through. You can lightly dust it with a little flour if it gets too sticky. My machine goes from 7 to 1, and I found that the dough was thin enough by the time I got to 3. You want it thin, but not so thin that it tears and rips. After this piece of dough is completely rolled and thin, cut it with a 4-inch circular cutter into rounds, and set the rounds aside. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 quarters of dough, and with any scraps leftover after cutting the dough into rounds.

Once your oil is up to temperature, place a cooling rack with a paper towel next to the pot (this is where you’ll put your just-cooked cannoli shells to cool.) Working in batches, wrap the round of dough kind of loosely around the thin end of the cannoli forms, sealing the seam with a little egg white if you like (see picture above). You want to be sure the seam is firmly pressed together, so it doesn’t come undone in the hot oil. Working with metal tongs, transfer the cannoli forms with the dough wrapped around them to the pot, and fry until golden brown….we found this took about 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and cool on the rack, then slide the form out of the shell (you can re-use the forms for the next batch of shells.)

Once all the shells are fried and cooled, pipe the ricotta filling into them with either a pastry bag fitted with a large, wide tip or with a plastic bag that you’ve cut the corner off of. Sprinkle the ends with chopped chocolate and pistachios. Serve the cannolis relatively soon after they’ve been filled, so they don’t get soggy.

Makes about 2 dozen cannolis.