Where to find the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia isn’t the only food topic which we locals have a strong opinion about (for the record, it’s Jim’s Steaks for me.)
If you’re from South Philly or live near by and have any Italian blood in your family lineage, you probably have a preference on where to get cannoli – the fried dough pastry filled with sweetened ricotta.
In our family, it’s Isgro Pastries (or Potito’s Bakery for a close second.) For our wedding reception, we had mini cannoli from Isgro’s brought in and I may or may not have gone on a “eat cannoli every single day” binge during our honeymoon in Sicily.
True be told, my favorite part of the cannoli is the super smooth and sweet ricotta filling. So, while brainstorming for the Sweet Splurges column this month, I thought back to a cannoli dessert dip that my cousin brought to my baby shower years ago. It was served with broken pieces of cannoli shell – a brilliant way for the bakery to use up their shell mishaps.
I did not even want to attempt to recreate the deep fried shells – too messy and this is Healthy Aperture after all, so I pieced together a recipe for baked cannoli shells. And in this recipe, the shells don’t have to be formed at all --- because really, what’s the point if you’re just going to break them up?
At the last minute, I added pumpkin to the ricotta stuffing for color, nutrition and seasonality (since my pumpkin ban is over – I refused to use it before the official start of fall this year. Pumpkin pancakes in August?? Just no.)
So, while the final result probably won’t put Isgro’s out of business, I now have a new fall/Halloween party dip in the recipe rotation.
Pumpkin Cannoli Dip
Makes 3 cups
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 - 4 Tablespoons water
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 egg white
- cinnamon and sugar for dusting
- 1 (15 oz) container part-skim ricotta, drained
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
- In a stand mixer or large bowl, mix together flour, butter, 2 Tbsp sugar, cinnamon and salt.
- Add 3 tablespoons water, vinegar and egg white; mix until dough forms (add another tablespoon water if needed.)
- Form the dought into a ball shape. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- On a floured surface, roll dough out into a rectangle – about the size of a large cookie sheet (about ¼-inch thickness.)
- Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray and transfer dough to sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or until dough turns golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on rack.
- While dough is cooling, make the dip. In a medium sized serving bowl, mix together ricotta, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar, mascarpone, orange zest and nutmeg. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
- Sprinkle cooked dough with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar (if using cinnamon sugar, coat dough with cooking spray first.)
- Break into pieces (approximately 1½ - 2 inches long) and serve with dip.