So I know I haven’t blogged in awhile. I have been baking, I just need to get caught up with the blogging.
In the mean time, I was challenged by the Daring Kitchen to make cannoli. The recipe can be found here. I’ve never fried anything in my life and as yummy as cannoli are, I wasn’t too keen on hot oil, unless it’s rubbed over my back in an extremely relaxing massage (actually, I haven’t had one of those either). But this definitely qualified as a new experience, so I bought the vegetable oil and marsala wine and got to work.
The making of the cannoli dough was actually quite simple, I didn’t even have to whip out a mixer. I chilled the dough overnight and put the ricotta in a cheesecloth over a bowl to drain. I’ve also never drained ricotta so when in the morning there was only a small amount of liquid in the bowl, I thought I must have done something wrong. I dumped the liquid and pressed the remaining ricotta through a strainer, thinking that was supposed to be done to lighten the texture. That was 20 minutes of needless activity. Note: do not strain ricotta. It didn’t ruin it or anything, it was just pointless.
For the actual frying, I wanted to do this right. So I bought the cannoli forms from Sur La Table and greased them up a bit with butter. Then I started rolling out the dough very thinly and cutting rounds that immediately shrunk in to be a little thick circle. I re-rolled the circles thin again and wrapped them around the cannoli forms and lightly egg-washed the overlapping part to seal.
Now for the frying part. The only thermometer I had that would work for frying was from the 50’s. I got the oil so hot that it read over 400F. It was only supposed to be around 350F. But the oil wasn’t boiling or anything, I couldn’t understand it. Well, I thought I’d give it a try anyways. So I turned down the heat a bit and dropped a couple of cannoli in. Whoa! There goes the bubbling of the oil. And though the cannoli are supposed to be in the oil for about a minute each, these two were beyond burnt in 20 seconds.
Okay, heat came down more and I let the oil sit for a few minutes. Next couple rounds were about the same until I got the hang of it. And unfortunately, I could not test the heat of the oil anymore because I lifted the thermometer out of the oil and hit it very lightly on the counter where it broke. PANIC! Broken mercury thermometer! I had to take a little time-out to clean up that mess. But there really wasn’t too much to clean. The silver mercury that came out was hard, not a liquid like I thought it would be. I wiped the counter down with a rag after I threw away the broken glass and contents.
The rest of the cannoli went pretty well. I managed to salvage quite a few shells to fill with the yummy sweet ricotta filling. I dipped a few in chocolate and pistachios as well. Most of the cannoli’s were donated to my fellow choir members and friends, because there’s no way I could eat all that fried dough. And the remaining ricotta filling (since I had so much left over) was put in the refrigerator so that I could squeeze a bit on my finger randomly for the next week. Mmm….
I also now have two identical mercury thermometers from the 50’s because I felt so bad about breaking the one, I found them online at antique dealers as replacements. I only meant to order one, but I ended up getting two by accident. I thought the thermometer had been my mom’s cherished one that belonged to her grandmother. Wrong. It was my dad’s mother’s and my mom had no attachment to it. Oh well.
I need to get myself a new thermometer that doesn’t contain mercury, and then I may try frying again. But the house smelled sickenly like oil for 3 days, so I’m don’t think frying will become my specialty.
It was also later that evening that I looked up “broken mercury thermometer” on google and realized the danger I put myself in. But seeing as how after 4 hours I wasn’t hallucinating yet, I felt I was pretty safe. The trash got taken immediately to the dumpster after that though, it had still been inside the house.
The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele ofParsley, 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.