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
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.
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.
For the Shells:
For the Vegan Cannoli Filling:
To Make the Shells:
To Make the Vegan Cannoli Filling:
To Make the Vegan Cannoli Bites:
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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