Whole-milk ricotta cheese,
Butter or lard
To 5 Tbl sweet Marsala wine,
or dry white wine
In a bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix well. Refreigerate, covered, until ready to fill the cannoli shells.
To make the dough, place the flour in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter or lard and sugar and mix with a fork, or pulse, until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly add the 1/4 cup of wine and shape the mixture into a ball; add a little more wine if the dough appears too dry. It should be soft but not sticky. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
Place the chilled dough on a floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. Work with 1 piece of dough at a time; keep the remaining dough refrigerated. Roll the dough out to a very thin long rectangle about 14 inches long and 3 inches wide, either by hand or using a pasta machine set to the finest setting. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Place a cannoli form diagnoally across 1 square. Roll the dough up around the form so the points meet in the center. Seal the points with a little water. Continue making cylinders until all the dough is used.
In an electric skillet, heat the vegetable oil to 375F. Fry the cannoli 3 or 4 at a time, turning them as they brown and blister, until golden brown on all sides. Drain them on brown paper. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully slide the cannoli off the forms.
To serve, use a long iced tea spoon or a pastry bag without a tip to fill the cannoli with the ricotta cheese mixture. Dip the ends into colored sprinkles, arrange them on a tray, and sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the tops. Serve at once.
NOTE: If you prefer, you can fry the cannoli in a deep fryer. Be sure to fill the cannoli just before serving - any sooner will make the shells soggy.
This recipe from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito