Cannoli are Italian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo, meaning “little tube”, with the etymology stemming from the Latin “canna”, or reed. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are an essential part of Sicilian cuisine. They are also popular in Italian American cuisine.
Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing sweetened ricotta cheese (or occasionally, but less traditionally, mascarpone) 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.