Monday, June 20, 2011

Lazy girl's chocolate chip cannoli

A very busy weekend full of working, travel, Father's Day, and a lovely bridal shower for a dear friend :)  And, I'm looking at another busy week ahead of me.  But, no matter how busy I get, there is ALWAYS time for dessert.  You got that?  Always, friends!

What if I told you that you could make a classic Italian dessert in about 30 seconds flat?  Meet my newest petite sweet creation: deconstructed cannoli!

The term "deconstructed" has become pretty popular on the restaurant scene in the past few years.  Basically, it means exactly what it sounds like -- taking something apart and serving the pieces in a new format.  Imagine what Picasso might do to food.

My first experience with this concept was a deconstructed banana cream pie.  Rather than the traditional dish, what arrived for my dessert looked more like a stack of ingredients: a bottom layer of bruleed bananas, followed by a homemade graham cracker, dulce de leche custard, another graham cracker, and a final bruleed banana.  Same basic players, just a different arrangement.

So, having some extra ricotta around after recreating a sandwich I had at a cafe a few weeks ago (check back tomorrow for the 411!), I started thinking about one of my favorite treats -- the Italian treat called cannolo (cannoli is the plural form).  If you're not familiar, it's a tube-shaped shell of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet creamy filling made of ricotta cheese.  The ends with exposed filling are often garnished with chopped chocolate or pistachio nuts.

As delicious as that sounds, making a batch of pastry dough just to fry up one piece and have myself a single cannolo is a little too much work on a summer's eve.  Not to mention, I would feel obligated to make a full batch and then most likely stuff myself silly with them.  Besides, cannoli are best eaten immediately because the shell will become soggy if stored filled for too long.  In other words, no lolly-gagging around :)

Wanting a cool no-bake dessert one night, I decided to make a version of cannoli that would satisfy my Sicilian craving.  A little sugar and ricotta plated up with some vanilla wafers and chocolate chips on the side looked almost too simple and pretty to eat.  Almost.  A dollop of the sweet filling atop a wafer and a few chips for good measure, of course, and you've got yourself a contemporary cannolo.  Contemporary because I'm sure those talented Italian grandmothers would balk at the idea of using store-bought cookies in place of their homemade pastry shells.  And, rightfully so.  But, sorry grandmas, I don't have the patience for that sort of thing.  And this version is just as delicious but oh so much easier :)

Lazy Girl's Cannoli
-serves 2

A few notes: This is barely a recipe, but more of a guideline.  Something you could describe to a friend in a grocery store line or at the office water cooler and not worry about correct oven temperatures or other mindless details.  Add more sugar if you like it sweeter or less if you prefer to taste more of the ricotta.  

1/3 cup ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Vanilla wafer cookies, for serving
Chocolate chips, chopped pistachios, or other toppings of choice

In a small bowl, mix together cheese and sugar until well blended.  Serve immediately with cookies and toppings.  Enjoy at a little outdoor table along the Grand Canal in Venice on a nice summer's eve :)  Any extra of the ricotta mixture should be store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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