This is the cannoli cake recipe from scratch: fried cannoli shell layers filled with the classic ricotta cheese and cinnamon filling.

cannoli cake recipe from scratch
layered cannoli cake recipe

I made this cannoli cake from scratch for a Sicilian dinner party. I greeted my guests with the pistachio pesto pasta, crostini with “cappuliato”, a Sicilian spread we brought back from our last trip to Ortigia, and cannoli. But not cannoli as we are used to: I built – that’s the proper term – a layered cannoli cake.

My cake is nothing but the classic cannoli recipe from scratch reconstructed into a dessert tower made of layers of cannoli shells – left flat and deep-fried – filled with the traditional ricotta cheese filling. I like candied fruits blended and mixed with the ricotta cream, not whole. And, of course, I sprinkled pistachio grain everywhere.

an Italian classic, deconstructed into a tower of cannoli shells and ricotta cream: a layered cannoli cake
5 from 1 vote

layered cannoli cake

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Author Claudia Rinaldi | Gourmet Project


for the cannoli shells:

  • 17.5 oz 00 flour 500 gr
  • 2.8 oz unsalted butter 80 gr
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 pinches salt
  • ¼-1/2 cup marsala or other sweet liqueur wine
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • vegetable frying oil peanut of sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon confectionary sugar

for the ricotta filling

  • 28 oz fresh ricotta cheese (better if sheep ricotta) 800 gr
  • 12 oz sugar 350 gr
  • 1 tablespoon candied cherries or candied cider, or orange peels
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon + more to garnish
  • ½ cup pistachio grains



  1. Place flour, butter (diced), sugar, cocoa and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the egg whites and start kneading. Pour ¼ cup of marsala and keep kneading. Continue adding marsala, a tablespoon at the time, until you get a workable bread-like dough.
  2. Roll out the dough and cut it in 1/8 inch tall discs. I used a medium plate (8-9 inches diameter) to cut it out into regular circles for the layered cake.
  3. Heat 3 inches of frying oil in a tall and large enough to contain the discs pot, until it boils.
  4. Fry the discs, one at the time, until golden brown. Lay them over kitchen paper to absorb extra grease. Sprinkle some confectionary sugar over each one of them. This also helps absorb the grease.


  1. Puree the candied cherries with a hand blender or similar.
  2. Press the ricotta through a fine sieve. Collect it in a bowl. Add sugar and cinnamon, and mix.
  3. Add candied cherries and mix well.
  4. Refrigerate until serving time.


  1. Place a disc over your cake serving plate. Add a couple of scoops of ricotta cream and spread it all over. Sprinkle some cinnamon and a 1/2 a handful of pistachio grains. Add another disc and repeat until you finish all your layers. I had 6 discs and used 4, just to be sure I had enough if one (or two) would break or get burned.
  2. End your layered cannoli cake with the remaining ricotta, sprinkled with cinnamon and pistachio grains. Garnish with a few pieces of a broken disc.
  3. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Good news: you may fry cannoli shells ahead of time, up to 15 days.

the last cookbooks


The city of Opulence.


The city of Renaissance.


The city of Sassi.

Enjoy your layered cannoli cake and don’t forget to get your copy of Simposio for more Italian recipes, travel, and culture!