Cannoli to Canoodle Over

A restaurant owner brings an interesting twist to a traditional Italian dessert.

Photo by Eric Levin.

A classic is a dish that has been around a long time and is difficult, if not impossible, to improve upon. Among desserts, crème brûlée is one (although variations sporting lavender- or espresso-flavored custard have earned a semi-grudging place at the table). Cannoli are another. Sticklers rightly insist that the crunchy tube be filled just moments before serving so it doesn’t lose its crunch. Like me, however, Ashley Lauren Fisher, owner of the excellent Pazzo Pazzo Italian restaurant in Morristown, has never cared for classic cannoli. We find them overly sweet and heavy on the inside, dry and not especially flavorful on the outside. Owning a restaurant, she asked her pastry chef at the time (this was in the late ’90s) to come up with something better.

“Out of his brilliance,” she says, he created a light, creamy filling that omits the bits of candied fruit and adds mascarpone and white chocolate. For the shell, he adapted a crisp, almond-studded, sticky-surfaced sugar cookie, shaping it into a long tube. The resulting non-traditional cannolo (you get one per order) marks an evolutionary leap into irresistibility. I may never eat standard cannoli again.

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