leave the gun, take the cannoli


Living in Northern California, it's easy to become completely enamored with persimmons.  The Fuyus that we have access to poses an otherworldly creamy sweetness, which we eagerly put in everything from cakes to salads.  It's difficult to break away from their siren song but it’s important to shake things up so we decided to play with their squishy brethren. Hachiyas are a completely different ball game. Unlike the crisp Fuyu that can be enjoyed almost like an apple, the Hachiyas must be left to ripen until they are nearly black and so soft and gelatinous that it appears they might turn to liquid at any moment. 

This recipe is inspired by the omnipresent Sicilian dessert that I could never quite get myself to fall in love with. A traditional cannoli is comprised of a thick, deep-fried shell and a nearly pasty filling that is thick with powdered sugar. Add your straight-from-the-jar maraschino cherry, heavy dusting of even more powdered sugar, and chalky, overly sweet chocolate chips, and you have a cloying gut bomb that will send you into a sugar crash so deep that no amount of espresso can save you.

This version, however, is pleasantly sweet and warmly spiced. The thin, crisp shell is a perfect way to showcase the filling (which is light and creamy unlike the aforementioned spackle). Instead of mounds of sugar, the sweetness comes from honey, the persimmons, and just a bit of brown sugar.

This recipe is sure to entice people on both of the cannoli fence, both those who steer clear of the traditional and those who celebrate them. I checked in with my resident Italian, and he liked them so much he didn’t even complain about doing the dishes! Okay, maybe not, but he really did love them.

Brandy snap cannoli shells

tablespoons raw honey, slightly rounded
tablespoons unsalted, grass-fed butter
1/2 cup soft light brown sugar, lightly packed
teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Spiced Hachiya persimmon filling

8 oz containers of mascarpone
1 1/2 cup Hachiya persimmon pulp, pureed (approximately 5-6 large persimmons, making sure to remove any skin or seeds)
teaspoons vanilla extract
teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
tablespoon raw honey

  • Add all persimmon pulp to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
    Measure out 1 1/2 cups of persimmon puree and add to a chilled metal bowl.
  • Add all remaining filling ingredients to the bowl and mix with a hand mixer until completely smooth (the mixture will begin to ribbon).
  • Refrigerate filling until ready to use.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  • In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, honey and brown sugar.
  • Over very low heat, stir ingredients until butter melts and the mixture is well combined.
  • Remove from heat and sift all remaining ingredients directly into the pan. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a measuring tablespoon, measure out one level tablespoon of the mixture and pour onto the left side of a lined baking sheet. Repeat on the right side. Leave at least 3" on all sides for the batter to spread out. Two cookies will fit on an average baking sheet.
  • Working one sheet at a time, bake for about 6 minutes (you can prep a sheet while one is in the oven). The cookies will be bubbling, begin to slightly darken at the edges and will appear lacy.
  • Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 30-60 seconds. Using a bench scraper and a spatula (VERY gently), transport the cookies to a piece of parchment on a cool surface.
  • Using a cannoli mold (or any other one-inch metal tube), very gently roll the cookie around the form. Work quickly, as the sugars will begin to harden. Let the cookie rest on the form for 60-90 seconds to retain the cylindrical shape. Set on a cooling rack until all cookies are done.
  • Repeat the above four steps until all batter has been used. Yield is about 10 cookies.
  • Once completely cooled, add filling mixture to a prepared pastry bag. Pipe filling into one end of the cooled shell (filling will reach the halfway point), then pipe from the other end. Serve immediately.

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