Remember the days of your youth when you stayed up 'til all hours of the night, ate what you wanted when you wanted, wore what you wanted and walked on the wild side every day? Well, times do change and these days the wildest things we do are...

...order a flavored cup of coffee and maybe watch Letterman once a week. No more six-packs for me, not in the fridge and certainly not on my abs. My clothes are chosen to cover rather than reveal, and my attempts to get my groove on and dance to ’80s music are met with eye-rolling and sighs of "REALLY, Mom?!" Yep, time marches on.

But I can still have my wild side. I recently ate octopus tentacles; bought er, um, “erotic” chopsticks (TOTALLY BY ACCIDENT, I SWEAR!) and I tried a hot sauce that, as David's father used to say, “burned the lint right out of my navel.”

I love to try new things, new foods, and meet new people. I've often said if I were to go back to high school I wouldn't sit in the back of the classroom and never raise my hand. I would sit right up front and answer every question I could, and ask every question I could think of. I would join groups and teams, and soak up every bit of knowledge thrown at me. Cliché but true, life is too short to waste.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a bit fussy about some things. I don't like my foods to touch on the plate; carrot cake has carrots and raisins, period (sorry, PJ); and I still can't bring myself to go past my waist in the ocean. “Jaws” had a very powerful effect on me.

I don't get freeform jazz or most rap music, but I have given both a try. And that, dear folks, is my point for today. Give it a try. It may be different from what you're used to, but if you never try it, you'll never know if you missed out on something great. That being said, I'm going to take a deep breath and invite you to mess with Italian tradition (gasp!) and the beloved cannoli (double gasp!).

Let me state up front first I'm not Italian and I LOVE cannoli. I've had delicious homemade cannoli from my Italian sister-in-law, and amazing cannoli in the North End of Boston. I've had really bad cannoli in New Hampshire, and made my own cannoli in Vermont. I get cannoli cravings, and if cannoli is on the menu anywhere I am, I'll order it. So, what made me decide to take on this most sacred of Italian desserts? It's simple. I'm afraid of frying.

Even though my fry-phobia led to creating this recipe, I love it for itself. It's fast, easy, and really, really tastes like cannoli. When that cannoli craving hits, I no longer have to hunt up a source; I can have cool and creamy cannoli flavor, pistachio and chocolate crunch, all in about an hour. Interested?

Cannoli Cakes are within easy reach, so let's go!

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Beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until thick and increased in volume.

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Pour in the melted, cooled butter, and blend gently.

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Add the flour and fold in. Again, be gentle. The batter will be medium consistency – not too thick, not too thin. As the little girl once said, "Just right!"

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For easy filling of your mini pans, pour the batter into a liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout.

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Place a dozen mini paper brioche pans on a parchment-lined baking sheet and spritz with cooking spray. If you don't have the pans this time around, you can use a 12-cup muffin tin.

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Pour in the batter, filling each cup about 2/3 full. This particular cake isn't light and fluffy; it's more like a pound cake in texture, so it doesn't rise as much as others.

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Perfect!

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Bake the cakes in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the edges and a cake tester comes out clean. If you baked in a muffin tin, be sure to remove the cakes from the pan and cool them on a rack. If you leave them in the pan they'll steam, and you'll end up with soggy bottoms.

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Must...resist...cute..little...cake... at least until the topping is made!

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In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, confectioners' sugar, pinch of salt, and vanilla. Stir until well combined and smooth.

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Fold in the whipped cream. Cut down through the mix with your spatula...

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...then turn it slightly to bring up topping from the bottom of the bowl to the top and fold it over. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn, and repeat until the cream is mixed in completely and the topping is lightened in texture.

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Remember to use a medium bowl. As you can see, a small bowl just doesn't cut it. Oh well, I never claimed to be a tidy baker!

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Simple syrup or liqueur brushed on the cakes will keep them nice and moist. You could skip this part, I suppose, but it really adds so much flavor it would be a shame to miss out.

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Using 1/4 cup of liqueur or syrup, brush each cake once, then each cake again and again until all the liquid is used up. Now, on to the home stretch.

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Mmm, lovely, salty pistachios. I was lucky to have an extra-big bag because I ate half of them while shelling. Depending on how much crunch you want, you can leave them in large pieces and just crush the nuts a bit with a rolling pin; or you can run them through the food processor to finely chop them. I chose to finely chop them, but saved out a few pretty green whole nuts for decoration.

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Fold in the chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips. I like the topping/filling chock full of goodies, but if you like more cream, you can certainly use a bit less of the add-ins.

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Use a muffin scoop or large spoon to add a heapin’ helpin’ of topping to each cake. Decorate with additional nuts, candied peel, or more chocolate, if desired.

Refrigerate before serving. The cakes will definitely keep overnight, but the nuts begin to lose their texture after that. If you want to hold the cakes longer, you can make both the cakes and the filling, refrigerate the filling, and store the cakes tightly covered for up to 2 days, then assemble just before serving.

So, break from cannoli tradition and be a rebel. Cost of a new Harley Davidson: $25,300. James Dean's classic white T-shirt: $15,000. Cannoli cakes in less than an hour: priceless!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Cannoli Cakes.

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MaryJane Robbins
The Author

About MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team the following year. MJ loves to create decorated cookies for the catalogue, and blog about all kinds of foods, especially sweet treats.