Chef Albert Di Meglio of Brooklyn’s Barano is completely changing the cannoli game by adding orange and champagne to the classic Italian dessert. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the breakfast cannoli. Prosecco (because it's Italian, duh) is worked into a crispy, deep-fried shell that encloses a creamy ricotta filling dotted with candied oranges, pears, cherries, and figs and chunks of chocolate from Brooklyn. Cocoa powder is incorporated into the shell, too. But the best part is there’s no baking soda or yeast in this cannoli recipe. The carbonation from the prosecco lifts the pastry and helps bubbles form on the shell while frying. The slightly sweet, fruity, and chocolatey filling is just an added bonus.
The cannoli are Di Meglio’s tribute to his grandmother, a native of Barano d’Ischia in Southern Italy. “I wanted cannoli on the menu, so I rummaged through my grandmother’s recipes and found the right one,” he says. After testing and tweaking his grandmother’s original recipe many times, Di Meglio found the perfect fit for it on Barano’s brunch menu. “It brings a lot of memories back for me,” Di Meglio says. “Whenever I’m feeling angry or sad, I eat cannoli, I remember my grandmother, and everything is right in the world.”
Here’s how Di Meglio makes his boozy breakfast dessert: Start preparing your dough in the bowl of a stand mixer by whisking flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, and cinnamon together. Add the prosecco and mix. Then, pour in the grapeseed oil and mix some more. Di Meglio warns to only add the oil at the end or else it'll coat the flour and the dough will not come together. When the dough begins forming into a ball, remove from the bowl and do the rest of the work by hand. Knead it until it’s packed together and no loose pieces remain. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside for two hours.
Once two hours have passed, Di Meglio unwraps the dough and presses it into thin sheets by slowly passing it through a pasta machine. (Pssst: You can make cannoli at home if you have a deep-fryer and the pasta attachments for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.) It’s important to create layers by folding the dough on top of itself before passing it through the machine—that’s what many chefs call the “strength” of dough. Always fold in the same direction, though. Repeat until it’s flat and thin, almost about ⅛-inch thick. Lay the sheet on a lightly-floured surface and use cookie cutters to punch out rounds of dough. Rest on a baking sheet and allow them to sit for one hour at room temperature.
Lightly flour a circle of dough and roll around a hollow steel cannoli form (but don’t add too much flour or the shell will burn too quickly in the fryer). Brush the edges of the dough with egg and press together to form a seal. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Now, fry the shells at 325°F for 5 minutes. Resist the urge to lift the shells out of the fryer. Keep ‘em down. The fizz in the champagne will have the chance to escape and form bubbles. Remove the shells from the fryer and let them cool.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Start with two ricottas: Impastata and cow’s milk ricotta. Mix in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste, and whip it for 5 minutes. Fold in the candied fruit—pears, oranges, figs, and cherries—and dark chocolate for no more than 1 minute. Any longer, and the add-ins will stain your beautifully white whipped cream.
Once the shells are cool to the touch, slide the steel form out of the center, and fill to complete the cannoli. (Warning: If the shell is still hot upon filling, you’ll end up with a soggy breakfast.) Place the ricotta mixture into a pastry bag, and fill both ends so the cream runs through the entire cannoli. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve.