I love baking anything French. Macarons, éclairs, profiteroles, crème brûlée, mousse, soufflés, they just make me feel so fancy and professional, just like how French, when spoken, sounds so incredibly elegant. (It’s honestly a wonder why past-me decided to drop French for Chinese, thinking it was ‘easier’ and ‘more useful’, pssh).
These cannoli cream puffs are a twist on the classic cream puff with a classic pâte à choux shell, filled with a ricotta and mascarpone cream filling with a slight hint of lemon zest and vanilla.
Pâte à choux sounds incredibly intimidating, doesn’t it? I thought so too, but I promise that it’s actually incredibly easy, as long as you follow the steps. These are honestly easier to make than muffins or cupcakes, yet they look so much prettier and make a lot less mess. They’re also incredibly versatile, as you can fill them with chantilly cream, pastry cream (for which there are countless varieties of), mousseline cream, and many others.
I also love making pâte à choux, purely because watching them puff up is so incredbily satisfying. You’ll realise why if you make them, what I mean.
Recipe adapted from Seasons and Supper’s Cannoli Cream Puffs
For the choux pastry:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup plain flour
- 4 large eggs
For the filling:
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta, room temperature*
- 1 cup mascarpone, room temperature*
- 1/2 cup thickened cream
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste**
- Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/210°C fan forced, and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Place water, butter, sugar and salt in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Add plain flour all at once, and immediately start stirring vigorously until the mixture starts to form a ball and peels itself off the sides of the pot. Remove from heat and place in a mixing bowl.
- With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, mix on low speed and add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly in between. Once all eggs are fully combined, the mixture should be smooth and shiny.
- Place batter into a piping bag with a large star tip (I used Wilton’s 1M Open Star Tip), a large round tip or with a large hole cut out of it and pipe round shapes onto the prepared tray, leaving about 4cm between each one. Alternatively, you can just drop balls of the mixture onto the tray with a spoon.
- With a small amount of water, dip your finger in it and gently pat down any peaks that might have formed from piping, as it stops them from burning.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 1o minutes. Without opening the oven***, drop the temperature to 175°C/350°F/165°C fan forced and bake for a further 13-15 minutes until golden brown on the outside and hollow-sounding when tapped. Take out and let them fully cool before filling.
- FOR THE FILLING: Place ricotta, mascarpone and powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk with a hand mixer or a stand mixer until smooth and forms soft peaks. In another bowl, whip the thickened cream until it forms firm peaks. With a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone and ricotta mixture. Add the vanilla bean paste and lemon zest, and whip with the hand mixture until the mixture has formed firm peaks.
- FOR ASSEMBLY: Gently cut pastries in half with a knife. Place filling into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe filling in a circular motion on the bottom half, ensuring the filling is visible from the sides. Alternatively**** place filling into a piping bag fitted with a long, thin filling tip, and poke holes in the bottom of the pastries and squeeze until filled.
- Sprinkle generously with icing sugar if desired, and serve immediately. Alternatively, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but the longer they stay in the fridge, the softer the pastry becomes.
- * Having the ricotta and mascarpone at room temperature is essential, as I tried whipping cold mascarpone into thickened cream before, and it split almost immediately. Having them at room temperature ensures a smooth and creamy mixture.
- ** Vanilla bean paste isn’t essential, I just like a stronger vanilla taste and the little seeds speckled throughout almost everything. Feel free to use vanilla extract too, as it’ll work just as well.
- *** Ensure you don’t open the oven whilst the choux pastry is baking, as this will cause the puffs to deflate and be…not puffy. The rise of choux pastry is dependent on steam causing the pastry to rise and puff up, and opening the oven will allow for all the steam to escape.
- **** I would recommend to cut and pipe the filling into these puffs, as the filling is quite thick. If you would prefer to use the alternative method of filling, I would recommend making a more fluid filling by using chantilly cream, or substituting either all the mascarpone or all the ricotta for thickened cream. This is because it would be a lot harder trying to fill them all with such a thick filling and a small tip that you’d likely give up and end up pulling apart the puffs and dipping them in the filling.
Perfectly golden, hollow, and puffed up shells! I think they look gorgeous when piped like this, but they still look just as great when piped in a circular motion or spooned. These puffs ended up being about the size of my palm, but you can always make them smaller if you’d like. Just ensure that you alter the baking times, and keep a close eye on them.
If you look at the filling you can see speckled with vanilla seeds. I used the same piping tip for both the shells and the filling and I love the look that it gives the puffs!
I hope you liked this recipe! As always, if you recreate it, make sure to tag me on any of my social medias; which are all linked below; or tag me in your blog post as I’d love to see! I’ve been wasting way too much time of my life on Pinterest recently, so if you’d like to see my abundance of food pins, check it out! I’m going to attempt to post more on Instagram and tweet more, but I can’t promise anything! I hope you’re having a lovely day!
– Jess xx