Holy Cannoli Cookies, an easy recipe for cannoli cookies with ricotta, chocolate chips, and pistachios! Fun Italian Christmas cookies, inspired by Italian cannolis, that will make a great additional to your Christmas cookie baskets and gifts this year!
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Ever have a cannoli? Growing up with an Italian American parent, we had cannolis regularly and they are one of my favorite desserts! Since we’re approaching Christmas cookie season, I thought it was about time to make some Holy Cannoli Cookies, inspired by one of my favorite Italian pastries! These Cannoli Cookies may not be an authentic Italian cookie recipe, but I love them as my own Italian Christmas cookies!
Ohhh how I love making an assortment of cookies for the holidays, don’t you? My Elvis Inspired Cookie Cups and Chocolate Turtle Cookies are always a popular choice, but thought I’d try some new flavors and cookies this year and thus these fun Holy Cannoli Cookies were born!
These Cannoli Cookies have a cake-like texture, and no they do not taste exactly like cannolis. Nothing tastes exactly like a cannoli besides a cannoli. But they are delicious and have a lot of great flavor!
Cannolis are different to different people, so if you make substitutions or changes, you may have different results.
What is a Cannoli?
Wondering what the heck a cannoli is? Maybe we should start with that.
Cannolis are from the Sicily region of Italy but have become very Americanized. I asked a lot of my Italian American friends what kinds of cannolis they grew up with. Like pizza, everyone had their own favorites!
Cannolis are made up of a fried pastry dough tube that is generally crispy.
What’s in a cannoli? They are generally filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. Cannolis may be plain with the sweetened ricotta and no additional ingredients. Or the cannoli filling may contain such things as chocolate chips, candied fruit, citrus zest/juice, wine, pistachios (or other nuts), maraschino cherries, and/or cinnamon.
You can usually find cannolis at most Italian bakeries, specialty grocery stores, and even sometimes your neighborhood grocery store. You can even find a cannoli kit on Amazon and sometimes at local specialty grocery stores. Even our Costco carries a great cannoli kit around the holidays.
Or if you’re wondering where to buy cannoli shells so you can fill them yourself, try these different types on Amazon or your local specialty grocery stores. You can even ask the Italian bakeries to sell you just the cannoli shells so you can make your own filling of choice.
How to Make Cannoli Cookies:
(Full printable recipe is at bottom of the post. Be sure to check out my How to Bake Cookies that are Perfect Every Time for great cookie tips.)
There are many MANY varieties of Cannoli Cookies. I’m not sure I’d say any are really authentic Italian cookies (so don’t send me hate mail….) but rather a fun twist on the Italian pastry.
To make things easy, I made the whole cannoli cookie dough right in one bowl. You probably should mix the dry ingredients separately and be a little more careful, but I really didn’t want a huge cleanup. Feel free to be more careful if you’d like. :)
To start, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Then mix in the eggs.
Next mix in the ricotta cheese. You can use regular or low fat ricotta cheese, although I would not use a no fat substitute, nor would I substitute cream cheese or cottage cheese.
Then mix in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and orange zest to the cannoli cookie batter. The cinnamon and orange zest aren’t really strong in this recipe, but they do give a nice subtle flavor.
When all of that is well mixed, mix in the baking soda, baking powder, and salt followed by the flour.
Stir in the mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios. If you want you could substitute your favorite chopped nuts and/or chips.
Cover and chill the dough about one hour or until it firms up just a little more. Then using a cookie scoop or spoons, spoon the cookie dough onto lightly greased baking sheets or baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake the cookies for about 8-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool for a few minutes then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
When the cookies are completely cool, melt the rest of the chocolate chips and drizzle over the cookies. Allow them to sit a little while until the chocolate sets.
Then it’s time to enjoy these cookies with a big cup of coffee or how about Italian Hot Chocolate! Yum!
Are you ready to make some cookies this year? Happy baking!
Here’s a quick video to show you the recipe for Cannoli Cookies from beginning to end:
Holy Cannoli Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 10 ounce bag mini chocolate chips divided
- 1 cup chopped pistachios
- In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs then ricotta cheese until well combined then mix in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and fresh orange zest.
- Next, mix in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Mix in the flour. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips and the pistachios. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
- Using a medium cookie scoop or spoon, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough for each cookie leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
- Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for about 8-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly then move to wire racks to cool completely.
- Microwave remaining chocolate chips on high in a small microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Spoon melted chocolate into a small resealable bag, clip one corner slightly, then drizzle melted chocolate over cookies. Let cool for chocolate to set.
Looking for other Italian dessert recipes? How about this Tiramisu from Electric Blue Food? Love that it’s made in little glasses! Or this Chocolate Panna Cotta from Inside the Rustic Kitchen looks heavenly! These Almond Biscotti from Munaty Cooking look so easy to make!