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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

Easy Cannoli Cupcakes

Classic Italian cannoli flavors come through in this easy dessert recipe that starts with a white cake mix.

cannoli flavored cupcake with chocolate sauce on plate
Easy Cannoli Cupcakes

What’s not to love about cannoli? A fried pastry shell is filled with cream and finished with chocolate. Give me a cannolo (Italian for a single cannoli) on a plate with a cup of espresso and I’m very happy.

When the yen hits me, I plan a trip to The Hill, St. Louis’s Italian neighborhood. Of course, I never just buy one, but several for home and to share, plus fresh pasta, olive oil, mortadella (the list goes on). My favorite spot for cannoli is Vitale’s Bakery, a family-owned business that’s been a part of The Hill for several generations. I usually pick up a few of the cream horns, too.

But let’s be honest; nobody says the shells are the best part of a cannoli. It’s simply a vessel for the heavenly pastry cream made with ricotta or mascarpone (or a blend of both). Italian grandmas and other expert bakers add any number of ingredients after cheese: powdered sugar, honey, vanilla, orange zest, etc.

When I saw a Pillsbury recipe for cannoli cupcakes, I had to try it. Personally, the cupcake instead of fried shell was a welcome change. But the filling recipe was disappointing. The original recipe used prepared frosting plus whipped cream plus ricotta, but it just wasn’t the right flavor or consistency.

So, I went back into the kitchen and made a couple of tweaks for my Easy Cannoli Cupcakes. While Vitale’s has nothing to worry about, these cupcakes do make a quick Italian dessert, and it’s a fun mashup. They certainly brighten up my afternoon coffee break.

To make Easy Cannoli Cupcakes, which yields 18 cupcakes, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1 box Pillsbury Moist Supreme white cake mix

  • ½ cup oil or melted butter

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 cup milk

  • ½ cup cold heavy cream

  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

  • ½ teaspoon orange zest

  • Mini chocolate chips or chocolate curls and salted, shelled pistachios for garnish

I always substitute milk for water when using a cake mix. This mix had the option of four egg whites or three whole eggs, so I chose the latter.

Directions Easy Cannoli Cupcakes

Mix and bake the cupcakes per box instructions and cool completely. My yield was 18 rather than 24 as the box suggested. Life’s too short for skimpy cupcakes. Each will be cut horizontally in half.

To make the luscious cream, beat the whipping cream with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. What the heck does that mean? You're whipping the cream just before it will become butter. When you lift the beaters out of the whipped cream, the tips on the beaters won’t curl over. Voila, stiff peaks.

Add the powdered sugar, ricotta, almond extract, and orange zest. Beat on low to medium speed until combined. Let stand in refrigerator to set up, about 2 hours.

Pipe about half the mixture on the bottom halves of cupcakes. Replace the tops, and pipe remaining mixture on top of cupcakes. Decorate with chocolate and nuts. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

How to store leftover cupcakes

Unless you’re having a block party, there will be leftover cupcakes. Keep them in an airtight container and store in your refrigerator. Mine were still good after four days.

Easy Cannoli Cupcakes are a lovely Italian dessert that any level baker can make. And it’s fun to experiment with other ways to decorate these lovelies. Next time, I’m adding a candied cherry on top, just like they do at Vitale’s. Or swap vanilla for almond extract when making your filling and leave the pistachios out. Either way, mama mia, these are delicious!


Looking for more cupcake recipes?

My Lavender Blackberry Cupcakes are easy to make and so good!

Hard to believe my Decadent Chocolate Cupcakes start with a chocolate cake mix. Moist, rich, and perfect any time of year.

You can make a loaf cake or cupcakes using my Easy Moist Lemon Cake recipe. Such a good and simple dessert for an Easter gathering.

About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

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