Vegan Cannoli Bites

By Alissa | Last Updated: July 22, 2015

I grew up in a part-Italian family, so I have lots of fond memories of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and lasagna baking away in the oven. What I don’t have are memories of stuffing cannolis. Cannolis didn’t happen in my family, and I’ll wager a guess that, except for those whose families owned bakeries, most of my Italian-American friends reading this can say the same. Cannolis were always a special thing. You know, something you get at a restaurant after a big pasta dinner, or that you pick up from the Italian market. They require special equipment and frying. Frying things is definitely reserved for special occasions.

Photos by Emily Caruso

Vegan Cannoli Bites (2 of 4)

These are all things I failed to consider when I decided to create a vegan cannoli in my own kitchen. Yup, you read right. I went and tacked on a whole other challenge of making these suckers dairy- and egg-free. Of course, I make vegan food all the time, so when my brain went to cannoli, I immediately started thinking of dairy substitutes and decided it was doable, foregoing the whole frying little pastry shells around metal tubes thing. This, of course, resulted in a delicious bowl full of sweet cashew-tofu ricotta and a big wad of useless dough.

Vegan Cannoli Bites (1 of 4)

So that’s the story of how we ended up with vegan cannoli bites, conveniently baked up in mini-muffin tins. Let’s face it, if I’m not up for a session of rolling and frying, I’m betting most of the people reading this also aren’t. Baking cannoli shells has its own challenges though, as you’ve still got the whole “making the dough into tubes” thing to deal with. As luck would have it, you don’t have to deal with that, as these little guys prove. I got the inspiration for cannoli shell cups from this recipe, went and created a vegan cannoli-esque dough, rolled and pressed it into mini muffin cups, and voila, vegan cannoli bites were born. They were totally easy, extremely cute, very not fried, and delicious enough to fool your Italian family members. Most likely. Okay, even if grandma isn’t fooled, I’m sure she’ll love them.

Go to Vegan Cannoli Bites recipe

Vegan Cannoli Bites

Prep Time:

45 minutes

Cook Time:

45 minutes

Total Time:

45 minutes

Yield:

36

ingredients:

    For the Shells:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or your favorite baking oil)
  • For the Vegan Cannoli Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
  • 1/2 pound extra firm tofu, drained
  • 3 tablespoons unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • For Topping:

  • 1 cup mini vegan chocolate chips or shavings
Print recipe

instructions:

    To Make the Shells:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Lightly oil two mini-muffin tins.
  2. In medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, flax, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add soy or almond milk and oil, and stir well with a fork to incorporate. Work into a dough and gently knead a few times until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 2 balls. Lightly flour a work surface and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into about a 12-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Using a pastry cutter or drinking glass, cut 2 1/2-inch circles into dough. Gently lay circles into prepared mini muffin tin, lightly pressing down if needed to ensure the circles conform to the inner surfaces of muffin cups.
  3. Bake 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
  4. To Make the Vegan Cannoli Filling:

  5. Place cashews, tofu, milk, lemon juice, vanilla and salt into food processor bowl and blend until relatively smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add powdered sugar and continue to blend until smooth, adding a bit extra powdered sugar if the mixture seems too thin, and a bit extra milk if it seems too thick.
  6. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  7. To Make the Vegan Cannoli Bites:

  8. Transfer filling to a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off, and pipe into shells, or simply spoon the filling into shells. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips or shavings.

notes:

Work in batches if you don't have two mini muffin tins. Just allow the tin to cool a bit before starting your second batch. Enjoy Life brand mini chips are vegan and the perfect size for these cannoli bites. If you can't get your hands on vegan chips or chocolate shavings, feel free to finely chop up a vegan chocolate bar or simply dust the tops of your bites with some cocoa powder. Be sure to make a full batch of the filling, to ensure that it blends up well. If you'd like to scale down the recipe size, simply freeze any unused filling and thaw it out for later use.

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Comments

I LOOOOVE cannoli’s! Yum! Although you’d think I wouldn’t. I got one once that had gone bad and it made me sick for days. I ate it before I knew it was bad of course. Hehe, the taste in my mouth told me otherwise and the Dr. only confirmed it. Now, I want one! Haha.

Oh, that’s the worst! I’ve had a couple of those experieces myself. Glad you’re still into cannoli though, becuase these were tasty as heck! 🙂

These look so adorable! I love that they’re baked, rather than fried like regular cannoli.

(P.S. I’m sorry, but as someone who’s Italian and a little obsessive about grammar, I have to point out that “cannolis” isn’t a word. Cannoli is the plural version of cannolo. Sorry, I hope this doesn’t come across as rude.)

Thanks Claudia! And no worries… I went to law school so I’m used to grammar obsessiveness. Cannoli it is from now on!

I can’t remember anyone in my family ever making cannolis, but my grandmother DID have molds for the shells, so I’m assuming they did at some point? I don’t really love frying either, so these bites are definitely for me when I want to get my cannoli fix!

That’s so cool! Now I’m wanting to check in with my grandfather – he just might have some molds too for all I know. These should definitely satisfy your cannoli fix – they’re super easy to make!

Hi. These sounds awesome. However, I’m allergic to soy and can’t have tofu. Can you suggest any substitutes for the tofu in the recipe? Thank you, in advance, for any suggestions. PS – the recipe for the shell is awesome to use for so many desserts and appetizers too 🙂

Thank you! You could try skipping the tofu and just using extra cashews. The tofu makes the filling light and fluffy. Without it you’d have something that’s not quite as close to traditional cannoli filling, but still tasty. 🙂

Hi Alissa, these look fantastic! Have you tried making the dough in advance and freezing or baking up the shells the night before? And if so, how did it go?

Thanks!

Hi Thea! I haven’t tried that, but I think you’d probably be better off baking up the shells in advance and then freezing them, rather than the dough. That little bit of baking powder in there helps the shells puff up slightly during baking, and I’m afriad by the time you thaw the dough and bake it would all be deactivated.

Can I ask what vegan powdered sugar you used, or rather, what powdered sugar you found worked the best for the recipe? Thanks!

I don’t remember what brand I used for this, but most are pretty interchangeable, and any brand that’s labeled organic should be vegan. 🙂

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