Cannolis, the Sicilian pastry and mainstay of neighborhood Italian-American pasticcerias, is one of my favorites, nurtured while growing up near the now defunct Corelli's in Stamford. Talking with Nick Accardi, owner of Tavola restaurant in Hell's Kitchen, he told me that in Sicily they make the shells with pork lard, adding, "you'll never appreciate them till you've been to Sicily."
I haven't been to Sicily yet, so I took up Nick's insights (and challenge) to make them at home with a mix of tradition and adaptation. To give the shells nobility, I used Tumminia flour, a heritage grain from Castelvetrano, Sicily. For the filling, rather than going with the Sicilian approach of sheeps milk ricotta, I made my own batch of goat's milk ricotta with ingredients from Coach Farms. In the end, my updated NYC cannolis mixed Sicilian flour and wheat flour, pork lard, cocoa and fortefied wine – the last in lieu of traditional Marsala.
One day I'll get to Sicily to enjoy what Nick decribed as a perfect desert. Until then, these worked out well. And if you're a movie buff, here's a line worth repeating when it comes to dessert, namely from Clemenza in "The Godfather, whose profound advice was "leave the guns, take the cannolis." Amen. Or buon gusto!
So without a recipe here's my cannoli….I don't shoot guns, but I inject ricotta in crunchy shells…