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Cannoli Filling and Pastry Cream

Pastry cream is not something I’ve had on my to-bake list, but finding the right recipe for cannoli filling has been. I grew up having cannoli from Long Island, so the bar has always been set pretty high. Last year, I took a stab at making a cannoli filling using a recipe for cannoli dip. As you may recall, it was more of a learning experience than a dining experience.

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Failed cannoli dip filling and failed ganache

For my second attempt at a cannoli filling, I tried a recipe by Ginger Barragan of Moonlight Bakes Bakery. Since her recipe utilizes pastry cream, I ended up adding it to my to-bake list. King Arthur Flour is a great source for recipes, so I decided to give their pastry cream a spin.

Having watched shows like Chopped and the Great British Bake Off, making pastry cream had become a bit intimidating. It seemed too easy to ruin the cream and end up with inedible scrambled eggs. The one piece I kept forgetting about was that they were working against a clock. It is easy to see how one slip up can ruin the whole batch, but overall the process was simpler than expected.

Since these experiments were for the filling and the cream, I decided to bake and torte a single devil’s food cake as a vehicle for eating the results instead of going whole hog with fresh pastry. Those challenges are for a later time.

While the cannoli filling isn’t where I want it to be, it is very tasty and a great place to start while honing in on the right ingredients and proportions. I highly recommend giving both of these recipes a go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Pastry Cream via King Arthur Flour

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 large egg yolks*
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
1 cup heavy cream (optional)**

*if you’re looking for something to use the egg whites for, try Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC).

Before starting, set up a bowl with a strainer in an ice bath (place the bowl into a larger bowl, add water and several ice cubes between the two bowls, keeping the inner one dry).

In a medium saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups of milk and all of the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.

Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the yolks to temper them. This keeps the yolks from turning into scrambled eggs when you add the simmering milk.

Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, with a whisk, until mixture thickens. Once the cream comes to a full boil, stop cooking immediately or it can curdle and separate.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine strainer into the bowl set in an ice bath. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract (I sliced the butter so it melted faster and mixed more easily). ***If you would like to flavor the pastry cream, do so here*** (See King Arthur link for flavoring suggestions)

Cover the cream with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool.

Will keep covered in the fridge for up to five days before it begins to weep.

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Cannoli Filling via Ginger Barragan

3/4 cup pastry cream
3/4 cup ricotta cheese (depending on brand, your cheese may need to be strained through cheesecloth overnight. A dry ricotta like Kraft Polly-O (my favorite!) can be used immediately.)
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (I used more than 1 Tbsp. add to desired density of chips)

Stir pastry cream, ricotta, and powdered sugar until well-combined. Mix in chocolate chips. Chill for 1 hour before filling shells or using in cake.

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Cannoli filling in a torted 9″ round of devil’s food cake.
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S’mores Pie

S’mores are one of my favorite summer treats. When this recipe by Wishes and Dishes came across my feed, I had to try it! The graham cracker crust was a version I hadn’t tried before and I like how it turned out. I’m sure I’ll use it again with other recipes. I also had a big win with this recipe – I remembered to build the sides of the crust! I was sure to heavily emphasize my notes about the sides so I wouldn’t forget. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
S’mores Pie

1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham crackers if you are making the crumbs yourself)
1 tsp baking powder
7 oz marshmallow creme (1 container)
6 whole full-sized Hershey’s bars
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet morsels)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9” pie pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until combined. Mix in the egg and then the vanilla extract. Next, mix in the flour, then the graham cracker crumbs, and finally the baking powder.

Divide the dough in half.

Press one portion of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.

Using a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, add the marshmallow creme on top of the crust. Spread evenly. Separate the chocolate bars into individual rectangles (aka pips) and place each pip on top of the marshmallow creme. Evenly distribute the mini marshmallows on top of the chocolate bar pieces (I added an extra handful of mini marshmallows).

Using the remaining portion of the crust, pat sections of dough on top of and around the marshmallows. They will not be completely covered which is what you want. The dough is soft so do this in pieces.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. I added a small handful of more chips.

Bake for 20 mins until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

Cool completely before cutting.

As an added touch, I crushed the remaining single graham cracker in the sleeve and sprinkled it on top of the baked pie.