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The Cannoli Contest

It’s crunchy and smooth, it’s creamy and fried, it’s cheesy and sometimes it’s chocolatey; it’s the cannoli. Starting in medieval times in Sicily, this delicious Italian treat has brought happiness all over the world with just a few bites. Cannoli are made by frying dough around a cylindrical pole and filling the cooled dough with sweetened ricotta cheese. Traditionally, cannoli are made with sheep’s milk cheese for a tangy texture, but more modern versions use cow’s milk ricotta or even pastry creme to fill the shells. 

Cannoli date back to the Christian Carnival (Mardi Gras) in Southern Italy where it became the king of desserts at the time. As the treat migrated north, Naples introduced rose or orange essences into the ricotta filling along with cinnamon, candied fruit, pistachios, or chocolate to bookend the sweet ricotta. As Italians immigrated, so did the cannoli. 

Now, the cannoli can be found all over the world in a variety of flavors with different add-ins to fit different tastes. According to Wall Street Cheat Sheet, some of the best places in America to find this cheesy treat are: 

1. D’Amato Bakery in Chicago

This bakery is able to spit out over 1,000 cannoli a week with multiple variations including a chocolate cannoli made with semi-sweet chocolate, dipped in pistachios. 

2. Piccione Pastry in St. Louis 

Not only have they honored the time tested traditional cannoli, they have branched out with seasonal flavors, a “lighter” filling, and also even a gluten-free variety. 

3. Caffe Palermo in New York City 

They are able to stick to what they know best and produce a traditional, flakey and rich cannoli that has kept them in business since 1973. 

4. Mike’s Pastry in Boston 

With a bigger than average shell size, their cannoli has become a staple, along with the long lines out the door. 

5. Holy Cannoli in Seattle 

A total cannoli remix. Holy Cannoli has branched out from banana to espresso and everything in between in the fried shell. 

6. Maria’s Pastry Shop in Boston 

Simple, classic, and unassuming, Maria’s has mastered freshness and class with each cannoli. 

7. Corbo’s in Cleveland 

With 50 years of experience, their made to order cannoli is a delicious stop in the vibrant Italian culture of Cleaveland. 


Don’t want to hit the streets? If you’re feeling up to the task of making your own cheese-stuffed pastry, try our recipe for Cannoli with Ricotta, Chocolate, and Candied Fruit Filling. Either way, happy eating! Cheese never tasted so sweet.

Photo Credit: mackenziephoto via Compfight cc

Virginia Hyde

Virginia Hyde is a southern girl at heart who just moved to Boston to submerge herself in food - mainly cheese, to be honest. Game for any food-related adventure, festival, or gathering, she is ready to share her passion for cheese with others. Virginia is currently working on a Masters in Gastronomy at Boston University.