November 27, 2009

DB Cannoli, done dairy-free

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Cannoli. My prior experiences with this pastry were that the taste never lived up to the pretty image they presented. However, a chance to try making something new is always welcome and so I dove in hoping for the best. The shells themselves didn't have any dairy ingredients and I made just as the recipe stated. They were time consuming to roll and fry, since I could only roll up four at a time and only fry one or two at a time but it all went relatively well. Can fried dough ever *really* disappoint? The filling is where I dropped the ball.

I decided to try two experiments. Number one, make a typical tofu pudding with silken tofu and melted chocolate. I've been making this pudding since my college days and made with dark chocolate it's always fairly decent. But since my dairy-allergic son isn't a fan of dark chocolate he hasn't liked the tofu pudding I've made in the past. So, I tried making a "Milkless" milk chocolate pudding...big mistake. I used up the last of his leftover Halloween chocolate skulls, which I had ordered from Premium Chocolatiers. They were a lot of fun to watch melt! Along with the melted chocolate, I added a smidge of soy milk, a pinch of salt and splash of vanilla to blend together with a block of silken tofu. Warm it tasted ok but it was too runny to pipe into the cannoli and after it chilled it looked nice enough but had a very harsh soy taste. The pudding did look pretty piped into the cannoli though.

My second experiment was tastier but visually and texturally even a bigger failure. I decided to try and make an almond creme using soaked almonds. I took a chance and left the skins on the almonds knowing that they would make the texture a little rough, but I thought more texture might be good. Then I added a little coconut oil along with powdered sugar and almond extract to make what I hoped would be a ricotta-like, creamy filling. The coconut oil added smoothness to the warm blended mixture. Again my experimenting fell apart when I chilled the creme so that it would be better suited to fill the cannolis. The coconut oil separated out and left tiny fat blobs floating in pureed nuts and liquid. Ah well, it did still taste good.

I've never had a bought cannoli that I loved and although I hoped differently I had a suspicion that it would end up this way. Maybe they just aren't the dessert for me. Thanks to Lisa for the experience, it's always fun to deep fry things!

-The full recipe for cannoli (including what is surely a much tastier filling than mine made with ricotta cheese) can be found HERE at Lisa's blog Parsley, Sage Desserts and Lineups.
-For the recipes Lisa adapted to create the challenge check out these two cookbooks: Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco by Allen Rucker and Michele Scicolone
-Are you curious about how to become a Daring Baker yourself? Visit the Daring Kitchen! There you can also check out all the other cannoli made this month by browsing the Daring Baker Blogroll.

"Milkless" chocolate skulls from Premium Chocolatiers
Die you evil chocolate spawn of Satan!
My finished cannoli, tofu pudding filled (bottom) and almond creme filled (top)