Consider this my New Years’ offering and my final post of 2020. And what better way to bid adieu to one of the crappiest, strangest years on record than with a Frankenstein of a dessert. These Cannoli Arancini are not the classiest things to grace a dessert table. But they are so good – achingly good. And yeah, no one asked for a weird hybrid of cannoli and arancini. But I like to think I filled a void the world didn’t know it had. Call it a public service or an affront to Italian cuisine. It all depends on your perspective…or taste level, I suppose. But if you’re down with unholy snack cross-overs, these Cannoli Arancini are for you.
Okay, so given my opening paragraph, I’m sure it’s clear this is not remotely authentic. If you want something classic and Italian, you are definitely in the wrong place. No, what we have here is one part arancini and one part cannoli. And if you’re not familiar with these delicacies, allow me to acquaint you.
An arancini is an orb of leftover risotto that has been breaded and deep-fried. They are traditionally savory and sometimes have a meaty or cheesy center. Classic arancini are very good and do not need improving. They are, however, a fairly blank slate when it comes to possible modifications. Such as the flavor of the risotto, possible fillings, and potential coatings.
A cannoli is essentially a deep-fried tube of pastry stuffed with a creamy filling. The filling is primarily ricotta or mascarpone. Cannoli come in a multitude of flavors and are garnished with all sorts of things. And like the arancini, the sky is the limit in terms of flavoring possibilities.
Okay, so now that you know what arancini and cannoli are, let’s talk about marrying them. This all starts with a sweet risotto. Instead of stirring stock into rice as you would with a normal risotto, a hot milk mixture is introduced to the rice. The milk is flavored with vanilla, orange zest, sugar, and aromatics. In the center of these Cannoli Arancini is a dark chocolate ganache. And the exterior is a breading of cannoli shell crumbs. Then these sweet arancini are finished with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar and a bit of orange zest.
So that’s pretty much all you need to know about these Cannoli Arancini. For forming tips, check the video below. And if you’re interested in seeing more of my recipe videos, don’t forget to subscribe to my new-ish YouTube channel.
Cannoli Arancini with Dark Chocolate Ganache
- Candy Thermometer
- Large, deep skillet
- 5 cups milk I used 2%
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 star anise pods
- 8 green cardamom pods
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1¼ cup arborio rice
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta
- 225g (8oz) good quality dark chocolate finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 250g (9oz) cannoli shells
- 4 cups canola oil for frying
- Pour the milk into a large saucepan. Place over medium-low and heat until on the verge of simmering. Add the sugar, orange zest, vanilla, star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, and salt.
- Transfer the saucepan to the back burner and set the heat as low as possible. You don't want the milk to boil at any point. You just want to keep it on the verge of simmering.
- Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Stir in the rice and toast it until it begins to crackle and emit a nutty aroma. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
- Once the rice is toasted, begin adding the milk mixture to the rice two ladlesful at a time. Stir the rice frequently and wait for the previous addition to be absorbed before adding more milk. Repeat this process until the rice is creamy and tender.
- Take the risotto off of the heat and stir in the ricotta. Transfer the risotto to a resealable container and chill for at least 3 hours.
- Once the risotto is finished, make the ganache. Place the chocolate in a large bowl and set aside.
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until steam gathers on the surface of the cream and small bubbles begin to break around the edges. Take the cream off of the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute or two before whisking the chocolate into the cream to form a thick, glossy ganache. Cover the ganache and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
- When you're ready to form the arancini, heat a melon baller with a little hot water. Using the melon baller, scoop out individual servings of the ganache, and set aside. Take 2 tablespoons of the chilled risotto and form a disc in our palm. Place a scoop of ganache in the center of that disc and enrobe it with the risotto. Refine the shape of the arancini and transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you run out of risotto. If you would like further clarification on shaping the arancini, check out the video in this post.
- Once all the arancini are formed, it's time to bread them. Pour the flour into a bowl and set aside. Crack the eggs into another bowl and lightly beat them, set aside. Place the cannoli shells in a large food processor and blitz until they reach a fine crumb. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and set aside.
- Roll the arancini first in the flour, followed by the egg, and finally in the cannoli crumbs. Repeat until all the arancini have been breaded.
- Pour the oil into a large heavy bottom pot and place over medium-high heat. Heat the oil to 350°F. Drop 4-5 arancini into the oil and fry until golden, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the fried arancini to a cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet and let cool slightly.
- Serve the arancini warm with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and a twist of orange. **