On March 19th Italians celebrate St. Joseph in gratitude. During a drought and subsequent famine, in Sicily, the faithful prayed to St. Joseph in hopes he would intervene. When the prayers were answered with rain and a successful harvest, the people of Sicily vowed to give thanks. Yearly. For eternity. Today, you may find Italians wearing red, praying in churches, preparing the altar and abstaining from meat. You will also find this Italian enjoying sweets. This is a day of reverence and joy. Last year I dispensed sage advice . This year you get a recipe.
(you can buy them..there isn’t a prize for the person who slaves over hot oil all day making these)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbs crisco or lard
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup marsala wine
1 egg–whisked with a bit of water
Combine the flour, sugar, salt and lard together. Slowly add the marsala while kneading the dough. Continue working the dough until it is well mixed and a rather hard dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit an hour and up to 3 hours. Roll the dough out to 1/4″ sheet and cut with a 4-5″ round cutter. Quickly run a rolling pin over the rounds in 1 direction to form the rounds into ovals. Place a metal tube in the center of the oval and bring the sides up, overlapping enough to form the shell. Brush seams with a bit of egg wash to seal.
Heat oil in a pot. Drop the shells a few at a time into the hot oil and fry until they are light brown and bubbly. Remove from oil and place on greaseproof paper. Allow to cool long enough to handle, then slide the tube out and allow the shells to fully cool.
1 1/2 lbs ricotta–drained to remove excess moisture
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs finely grated lemon peel
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
Mix all ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to meld. Filled cannoli shells tend to get a bit soft after time. If you want your shells to remain crispy, wait until you are ready to serve before filling them.