Cannoli Cake recipe, an easy from-scratch Italian cake with cannoli filling. This homemade cannoli cake is full of easy to find ingredients including ricotta, mascarpone, orange zest, and mini chocolate chips. Find out how to make a cannoli cake with different flavors for your personal taste.
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Another fun Cannoli recipe to add to my collection! This Cannoli Cake Recipe is the best if I do say so myself! So good! Be careful because you may eat more than you mean to. haha! You know I love cannolis like my popular Cannoli Cookies, Cannoli Dip, and Mini Cannoli Dip Cups. So adding a cake to the mix seemed to be the next logical thing to do!
What is a Cannoli?
If you haven’t seen my other cannoli recipes and don’t know what a cannoli is, let’s start with that.
A cannoli is an Italian pastry that is shaped in a long tube with a filling generally made up of ricotta cheese and powdered sugar.
An Italian cannoli may include other things such as candied fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, cinnamon, mascarpone cheese, or a wide variety of other things.
You can find them at Italian grocery stores and bakeries, as well as many other bakeries and grocery stores now.
If you’re never had one, give them a try! National Cannoli Day is also June 16th, so if nothing else get one to celebrate in June!
Check out my “What is a cannoli?” for more info.
How to Make Cannoli Cake:
(Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for the complete recipe card and directions and print option)
This Italian cake with cannoli filling frosting may look difficult to make, but it’s actually quite easy. A little tricky for those with no baking experience, but easy for those a bit more experienced. If you’ve never baked a homemade cake before this may not be the best one to start with or please at least read all the info, tips, and suggestions.
The cake is a bit time-consuming though, but worth the trouble in my opinion. The good thing is that I think it’s actually better the next day so you can definitely make this cake ahead of time!
Ok, so to get started on this homemade Cannoli Cake, be sure your oven is preheated. Also butter and flour two round baking pans.
Start making the cake batter by mixing the dry ingredients together including the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, beat together the wet ingredients starting with the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy which may be a few minutes.
Beat in an egg one at a time, then beat in vanilla extract and fresh orange zest.
The orange flavor is not really strong and gives a nice subtle citrus taste to the cake. However, if you really don’t like orange, you can leave it out. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the orange in the cake. Some people think it’s too much, not enough, or just the right amount SO definitely a personal choice.
You could also swap out some of the vanilla extract for almond extract. Or you could use Fiori di Sicilia Extract which is part citrus and vanilla.
Pour the cake batter into two 9-inch round baking pans and spread to form an even layer. You could also use 8-inch round baking pans. If you do use the 8-inch just know they may take a little longer to bake.
I like to use these baking strips to put around the pans. They help make level cake layers. They’re not perfect, but do help in my opinion. Be sure to also use good quality cake pans for best results.
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake layers slightly, then remove from the pans and cool completely on wire cooling racks.
Once the cake is completely cool, use a long serrated knife to cut each cake layer in half to form 4 layers. You don’t have to cut the layers in half. If you just want a double layer cake skip that part.
How to Make Cannoli Cake Filling:
(For the full printable version of the recipe, scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe card and print option. Although be sure to read here for more tips and information or check out my other cannoli recipes!)
This Cannoli Cake filling is really just an easy Cannoli Frosting that is in between each layer and on the outside of the cake.
First, start with some good quality THICK ricotta and mascarpone cheese. Both should be readily available at most grocery stores. The mascarpone can be a little pricey so look around and you may be able to find it cheaper. If you have to, you can substitute cream cheese.
Be sure to use full-fat cheeses or ones that are not too runny. If you use lower-fat cheeses the frosting may not be thick enough to frost the cake. Drain off any excess liquid on top of the cheese. You really want the cheeses to be thick (like cream cheese).
FOR BEST RESULTS PLEASE DRAIN YOUR RICOTTA (AND/OR MASCARPONE) OVERNIGHT – If you’re at all unsure about your particular brand of ricotta (and/or mascarpone) or if it seems runny, you should drain it overnight. See my post on how to strain ricotta cheese for directions and info. There are many types and brands of cheese so results can vary A LOT. If you can find it in your area, you can also try ricotta impastata (pastry ricotta).
In a large mixing bowl beat together the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. Then beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, orange juice, cinnamon, and salt.
Again, you can omit the orange juice if you want, but it’s not too strong.
A few people have mentioned they’ve had a hard time with the frosting. PLEASE make sure your cheeses are THICK and not runny. Different brands can vary slightly. If it’s warm in your house that can also play a factor. Make sure all ingredients are cold. You can also try to add additional powdered sugar (or more cheese if thick) if necessary to thicken the frosting.
How to Assemble the Cannoli Cake:
Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate or stand. Before I put the cake down, I like to put strips of wax paper that I can remove after I frost and decorate the cake. It helps keep the plate clean. Or at least in theory it helps. I seem to always make a mess regardless. haha!
Frost the top of the layer. Then sprinkle about 2-3 tablespoons of mini chocolate chips on top. You can also add some chopped roasted nuts such as pecans, walnuts, or pistachios if you’d like.
Place another cake layer on top and repeat with the frosting and chocolate chips. Once all the layers are done, frost the outside of the cake.
Use the remaining chocolate chips to decorate the outside of the cake. If you want a lot of chocolate chips, you may need more than one package.
You can also use any extra frosting for piping or decorating. I’m not much of a cake decorator so don’t judge my pitiful piping. haha!
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve and any leftovers after.
If you make this into a two layer cake you may want to cut back on the frosting recipe. If you make the 4 layers, you’ll have enough frosting for a thin layer of filling between each layer and a thin layer on the outside of the cannoli cake.
I didn’t have much frosting left for piping. If you want to do a lot of piping or have a thicker layer, you may want to make extra frosting.
You can also decorate the outside of the cake with chopped nuts if you’d like. Or top the cake with some maraschino cherries too.
This cake is quite large with all the layers and could easily feed a crowd. A thin slice is plenty!
Serve this cake after a great Italian meal along with some coffee and your guests will love you.
Be sure to store this cake covered in the fridge. Like I said, it’s a little better the next day in my opinion.
Who would like a piece of this fabulous Cannoli Cake?
Quick video to see how easy this Cannoli Cake comes together… (cake is slightly more yellow in the video due to different brand of butter, eggs, etc.)
Want More Cannoli Recipes?
Be sure to check out all my other fun cannoli recipes!
Cannoli Cookies – One of my most popular recipes. These cake-like cookies always get rave reviews.
Best Cannoli Dip – Quick and easy and so fun for parties and potlucks!
Chocolate Cannoli Dip – Perfect for chocolate lovers. All the flavors of a cannoli plus extra chocolate.
Cannoli Milkshake – Fun treat for kids or adults. Add your favorite liqueur for a grown-up version.
Cannoli Dip (Orange Almond) – I added a little extra orange and almond to this version of cannoli dip.
Mini Cannoli Dip Cups – Love these cute little dessert cups. Great idea for parties and potlucks!
Cannoli Cream Chocolate Truffles – These cute little candies make the best holiday treats!
Cannoli Cheesecake Bars – Easy cheesecake bars with all the tastes of cannoli.
Mini Frozen Cannoli Cheesecake Bites – Cheesecake bars cut into bite-size pieces and dipped in chocolate.
Cannoli Poke Cake – an easy cake with cannoli topping.
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Cannoli Cake Recipe
Frosting: (see notes below)
- 1 tub (10 ounces) ricotta cheese drained overnight if needed (see notes below)
- 1 tub (16 ounces) mascarpone cheese drained overnight if needed (see notes below)
- 3 cups powdered sugar (possibly more if needed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 bag (10 ounces) mini chocolate chips divided (if you want a lot of chocolate chips on the outside, you may want to have another bag on hand)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 9-inch round baking pans (or can substitute 8-inch round baking pans).
- Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium mixing bowl until well combined.
- Beat together butter and granulated sugar in large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Then beat in fresh orange zest and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract until well combined.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk into the butter and sugar mixture, beating after each addition until just combined.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pans, spread to form even layers. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. (If using 8 inch pans, baking time will be about 30-35 minutes.)
- Cool cakes slightly then remove from pans and finish cooling completely on wire racks. When cakes are completely cool, split each layer in half horizontally with a long serrated knife to form 4 layers.
- For frosting, beat together ricotta and mascarpone in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, orange juice, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.
- To assemble cake, place one layer on cake dish. Top with frosting then sprinkle about 2-3 tablespoons of mini chocolate chips on top. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost outside of cake and add remaining chocolate chips to outside of cake or as desired. Use remaining frosting to decorate or pipe as desired. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.