|Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pasta, filled with a sweet, creamy filling called "cannoli cream" and commonly containing mascarpone or sweetened ricotta cheese blended with some combination of vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, marsala wine, rosewater or other flavorings. Some chefs add chopped candied fruit (citron, orange peel, or cherries). They range in size from "cannulicchi", no bigger than a finger, to the fist-sized proportions typically found in piana degli albanesi, south of palermo, sicily. Regardless of size, the shells should be filled as late as possible to avoid becoming soggy, thus losing the crunchiness that provides contrast with the softness of the filling. |
Food historians believe cannoli date to the time of sicily s arab dominion by the saracens or even earlier; the tubelike shape may reflect druidic stele and menhir. Originating in the palermo area, they were historically prepared as a treat during carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol; one legend assigns their origin to the harem of caltanissetta. The dessert eventually became a year-round staple throughout what is now italy.
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