Einkorn Cannoli Cupcakes

When it comes to what I enjoy about the cannoli, I’m split 50/50: love the creamy filling, hate the crispy shell.

Vertical image of mini desserts in liners topped with white frosting and pistachios, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

The thick, soft, fluffy, lightly sweet ricotta frosting – the literal internal soul that fills every heartless, hard shell – is where I find true happiness.

I know my cannoli, and I’ve eaten plenty of them, shell and all.

Vertical close-up image of vanilla spice cupcakes decorated with white frosting and crushed nuts on a white plate.

Having lived in Boston for a couple years, the North End’s Little Italy is sprawling with Italian restaurants and bakeries (shout-out to Mike’s Pastry!). Lines of hungry people snake down the tiny, cobblestoned streets, an eager mix of aggravated locals and excited visitors, waiting to get a box of assorted sweets.

As a patron buying a cannoli on a rare day off from grad school and three jobs, I’d happily stand in line to get one with the classic filling: a sweetened vanilla ricotta frosting mixed with chocolate chips or crushed pistachios.

Vertical top-down image of a few mini baked desserts topped with vanilla icing and crushed nuts on a white plate next to chocolate chips.

While the cannoli is considered a handheld treat, sometimes I’d go the extra mile of getting a spoon to scoop out the filling, intently avoiding the shell.

Picky? Perhaps.

Disrespectful to the cannoli tradition? Maybe.

Creating one very happy, overworked grad student who deserved limitless sugary pleasure? Yes, yes, yessssss!

My textural aversion for the shell, and irrevocable passion for the inner filling, is what inspired this new idea for cupcakes.

Vertical image of mini baked desserts in liners with vanilla frosting and crushed nuts, with some on a white plate and one on a white platter in the background next to a white towel and chocolate chips.

They’re my pretty homage to the Italian bakeries of Boston, and my form of an apology for all the shells I threw away in the trash.

Now that I have these, I promise it won’t happen again, Boston.

My einkorn flour cannoli cupcakes with a lightly spiced vanilla cake and whipped frosting are soft, sweet, and fluffy with every bite. And they have absolutely no crispy shell!

The only crunch you’ll find will be from chocolate chips in the frosting, and a sprinkling of chopped pistachios on top. But these are completely acceptable.

Vertical top-down image of rows of decorated vanilla mini baked treats with vanilla frosting and crushed nuts next to a white towel and chocolate chips.

Before you bake, you do need abide by one rule. If ignored, your final dessert may become a liquidy, gloopy disaster.

Here it is:

Buy the right kind of ricotta.

Look for whole milk hand-dipped ricotta or ricotta impastata (an option with even more whey drained from it than hand dipped ricotta) at an Italian grocer or specialty food store. These versions will be thicker than the more watery, grainier generic options at the grocery store.

A high-quality ricotta will yield a thicker frosting that will hold its shape – an important quality when decorating individual cupcakes!

Vertical image of a bite taken out of a vanilla mini dessert topped with a thick layer of frosting and nuts on a white platter with mini chocolate chips and crushed nuts.

If you absolutely cannot find this type of ricotta, please please please scroll down to Step 6 of the Cooking by the Numbers section – I have an acceptable (but not perfect) substitution for you!

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Horizontal image of cupcakes topped with vanilla icing and crushed nuts on a white plate.

Einkorn Cannoli Cupcakes


  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 18-20 cupcakes 1x

Description

Obsessed with the creamy filling of a cannoli? This einkorn cupcake version of the sweet Italian dessert gives you what you crave the most.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Cake Base:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups einkorn flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites

For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups (about 16 ounces) whole milk hand-dipped ricotta or whole milk ricotta impastata
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios, for garnish

Instructions

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 20 units in two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the 2 whole eggs one at a time at medium speed, mixing until each is incorporated completely.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl. Set aside. Mix together the milk and vanilla in another separate bowl.
  5. On low speed, alternate adding the dry mixture and liquid mixture to the creamed butter, starting and ending with the dry mixture. Mix until combined after each addition. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and mix a final time to combine.
  6. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the three egg whites until medium peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter until no white streaks remain.
  7. Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. You may not need all of the liners – remove any that are not filled.
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are puffy and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

For the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the ricotta, sugar, and vanilla on low speed just until combined.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and mix on low speed just until combined.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour to slightly thicken and set.
  4. Decorate the cupcakes as you wish, and garnish with the chopped pistachios. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a day before serving.

Notes

If hand-dipped ricotta or ricotta impastata is not available, you can use generic whole-milk ricotta that is drained of excess liquid: Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Weigh it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator overnight. Once the ricotta has drained, it is now ready to use in the recipe.

  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: einkorn flour, cupcake, cannoli, ricotta, chocolate chip, pistachio

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep the Cake Ingredients

Horizontal image of assorted wet and dry ingredients in white bowls, butter on a gray plate, and a lined muffin pan on a black surface.

Let the butter, eggs, and milk come to room temperature before mixing in order to create the most homogenous batter.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 20 cups of two muffin pans with cupcake liners. Measure out all of the ingredients for the cake base.

Chop the pistachios and set them aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir together the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl.

Separate three egg whites from the egg yolks. Save the yolks for hollandaise or eggnog!

Step 2 – Make the Base Batter

Horizontal image of a thick yellow batter in the metal bowl from a stand mixer next to a muffin pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the room temperature unsalted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. This will take about 4-6 minutes.

With the mixer running on medium speed, add the 2 whole eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated completely.

On low speed, alternate adding the dry flour mixture and the liquid milk mixture to the creamed butter-sugar-egg mixture, starting and ending with the dry mixture. Mix until combined after each addition.

Scrape the bowl with a spatula and mix a final time to combine. The batter will be fairly thick, until you add the egg whites in the next step.

Step 3 – Whip the Egg Whites

Horizontal image of a whisk holding whipped egg whites with a medium peak stiffness, in front of a muffin pan with white liners.

In a medium bowl, whip three egg whites with a whisk until medium peaks form. I prefer to do this by hand (it only takes a few minutes), but you can choose to use a stand mixer or a hand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Adding whipped egg whites into the batter helps to create a fluffier, lighter cake. This is a great trick, especially with einkorn flour, which tends to yield heavier baked desserts.

Step 4 – Fold in the Egg Whites

Horizontal image of folding in egg whites into a yellow batter in a metal bowl.

With a spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter, being sure to combine just until there are no white streaks left. The mixture will look lighter in color and smoother in texture.

Horizontal image of a spatula in a smooth light yellow batter in a bowl.

Overmixing will deflate all of that pretty air you created with the whipped whites, so be gentle!

Step 5 – Bake

Horizontal image of yellow batter portioned in muffin cups with white liners on a black surface.

Divide the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, filling each 3/4 of the way full. You may not need to use all of the liners. Remove any liners that aren’t used.

Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, or until they are puffy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Horizontal image of baked yellow individual food items on a cooling rack.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before removing the cupcakes onto a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

Step 6 – Make the Frosting

Measure all of the ingredients needed for the frosting.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the ricotta, sugar, and vanilla on low speed just until combined.

Horizontal image of bowls of fresh cheese, chocolate chips, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Add the chocolate chips and mix on low speed just until combined.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the frosting for about an hour to slightly thicken and set.

Uh-oh… what if you can’t find hand-dipped ricotta or ricotta impastata?

Horizontal image of a white bowl of a thick white frosting with chocolate chips on a black wooden surface.

Rest assured, you can still make this recipe with an equal amount of generic whole-milk ricotta, though the frosting will have a runnier consistency. More than likely, it won’t be thick enough to pipe it, but you can still spread it on top of your treats with an offset spatula.

To get rid of some of the excess liquid, here are the extra steps you’ll need to take:

Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. Weigh it down with a heavy can (like a can of beans), and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator overnight.

Once the ricotta has drained, it is now ready to use in the recipe.

Step 7 – Decorate and Serve

Horizontal image of cupcakes topped with vanilla icing and crushed nuts on a white plate.

Decorate the cupcakes as you wish! I like to use a star piping tip to mimic the look of all those old-school cannoli. Garnish with the chopped pistachios.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a day before serving.

Unique Techniques Yield Unique Sweets

This cannoli-inspired cupcake is certainly not your ordinary dessert!

We combine special ingredients like einkorn flour and hand-dipped ricotta with creative baking techniques like incorporating whipped egg whites into the batter in order to make a delicious treat with the most amazing tastes and textures.

Horizontal close-up image of yellow cupcakes in white liners decorated with thick white frosting topped with pistachios.

It’s an update of a classic dessert that is unforgettable, and one that I hope you make over and over again for all the cannoli lovers in your life.

Especially for the ones who don’t like the shell (wink, wink).

Have you ever heard of hand-dipped ricotta, or ricotta impastata? If you’ve never tried them, do it ASAP! You will be shocked by the rich, creamy texture. And once you try it, message me immediately in the comment section below so we can take about how awesome it is together!

Oh, but first… check out some of my other favorite cupcakes on Foodal:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on March 29, 2013. Last updated: March 28, 2020 at 15:58 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best cheesesteaks, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

12 thoughts on “Einkorn Cannoli Cupcakes”

  1. Oh my. Those cupcakes look incredible! I can’t seem to stop looking at them, so I guess I’m just going to have to make a batch for myself here very soon.

    Reply
  2. oh, also, cannoli cupcakes. I recently saw them at a cupcake shop and bought one for my family because they can never resist a cannoli, and they loved it! So I will have to try this recipe!

    Reply
  3. This is awesome – so glad I found your blog 🙂
    I grew up eating clasic Cannoli’s but haven’t had them since I was pregnant b/c of the frying and sugar. Love the ingredient list you used!

    Reply
  4. Oh my word. These look spectacular. I love love love cannoli but they’ve always been too intimidating for me to attempt. Putting them into cupcake form is genius.

    Reply
  5. Such a great idea! I know every type of dessert has been made into cupcake but I’ve never seen a cannoli cupcake before. I tend to think traditional frosting is too sweet but this ricotta based one sounds amazing.

    Reply
  6. First of all, words cannot express how excited I am to find a recipe for one of my favorite desserts (cannolli) in the form of another favorite dessert (cupcakes). Even though I’m not a good baker and I don’t own einkorn flour, I will give this a try!

    Reply

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