Leave a cannoli for Santa this year! These Christmas Cannoli are a fun (and easy) way to mix up the traditional Christmas cookie plate.
Santa Claus. St. Nick. Kris Kringle. Father Christmas. No matter what name you use, there’s no doubt that Santa Claus is one of the most well-known figures in the world. But I bet there are a few fun facts that you’ve never heard about the jolly guy in the red suit.
Let’s start with that red suit. Did you know that Coca-Cola had a lot to do with that red suit? To be fair, despite the red and white colors of the brand, Coca-Cola didn’t actually invent Santa’s red suit. (That honor goes to Thomas Nast, a cartoonist who created the modern-day image of Santa for Harper’s Weekly magazine in the late 1800’s.) Nevertheless, Coca-Cola’s popular advertising campaign started in the 1930’s, and it standardized the image of Santa that most folks know today.
Another little known fact about St. Nick? He has a United States pilot’s license. That’s right. In 1927, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce issued a pilot’s license to Santa Claus. There’s even photographic proof of Santa receiving his license – and it’s documented in this photo from the Library of Congress. I wonder how long that pilot’s license is good for?
One more fun tidbit before we move on to today’s recipe: For 2 years, Santa was considered the richest fictional character in the world. From 2002-2013, Forbes Magazine published a list of the 15 richest fictional characters in the world. Santa topped the list in 2002 and 2005, but then Forbes dropped him from consideration because they were overwhelmed by letters arguing that Santa was real. In case you’re wondering, Scrooge McDuck topped the list 3 times following Santa’s exclusion. As for me, I like to think that Scrooge McDuck is real.
Now that we’ve addressed a few of the lesser known facts about everyone’s favorite jolly old elf, let’s turn our attention to today’s recipe. This is a fun one! And it’s really quite easy to make. With Christmas approaching quickly, I’m sure everyone is quite busy. There are last minute gifts to purchase, presents to wrap and lights to be hung. That’s where these Christmas Cannoli enter the picture.
We love cannoli in our house! As I’ve detailed before, Laura’s obstetrician’s office was right next to a bakery that makes the best cannoli. Every time we went in for an appointment, we had to stop next door to pick up a cannoli. And near the end when the doctor’s visits became more frequent? Well, that meant more cannoli for us!
For this batch of Christmas Cannoli, I used my go-to cannoli filling recipe and then just decorated the filled cannoli with red and green sprinkles. (I did this same thing back in the middle of the summer with red, white and blue sprinkles for 4th of July.) Cannoli are incredibly easy to make at home, and they’re a fun way to mix up the traditional Christmas cookie plate! In fact, I might just leave Santa a cannoli this year. I’m thinking he would be quite happy to find a cannoli waiting for him – after all, he’ll have had way too many chocolate chip cookies by the time he gets to our house!
To make these homemade cannoli easy, I use pre-made cannoli shells. Most bakeries (including grocery store bakeries) sell unfilled cannoli shells. (Just make sure to call around first to save time!) The cannoli filling is very easy, although it is important to use whole milk ricotta cheese. I used part-skim ricotta cheese one time, and the filling never thickened. It was delicious, but it just didn’t thicken up enough for filling cannoli shells. I hope you enjoy these Christmas Cannoli as much as we do!
Did you make a batch of these Christmas Cannoli at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
For the Filling
- 1 15-oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese (see note)
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2-3 tsp lemon zest zest of 1 lemon
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
For the Cannoli
- 12 full-sized or 24 mini cannoli shells (see note)
- ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
- ¼ cup red and green sprinkles
- powdered sugar for dusting tops
For the Filling
- Place ricotta in a fine mesh strainer and set over a large bowl. Cover bowl lightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. (Note: ricotta can be drained overnight.)
- Using a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and lemon zest.
- Using a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the ricotta mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the Cannoli
- Using a pastry bag with no tip, fill each cannoli shell with the ricotta filling.
- Place mini chocolate chips and sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Dip each end of the cannoli into mixture. Dust tops of cannoli shells with powdered sugar.
- Serve immediately. (Cannoli shells will soften once filled, so plan on filling the shells as close to serving as possible.)
Looking for more fun Christmas dessert recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: