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Good cannolis are truly hard to find. If you can buy good fresh ricotta and good candied citrus zest, and if you stuff them only when you are ready to eat them, then you will enjoy a crisp and delicious cannoli. If you skip any of the details in this recipe, it will be a disaster.

SHELLS

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Limoncello or other lemon or orange liqueur

FILLING

16 ounces fresh sheep’s milk or cow’s milk ricotta, drained 1 hour in a cheesecloth-lined conical sieve
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons candied orange zest
1/4 cup tiny chocolate chips
2 quarts canola oil, for frying
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, sugar, and cocoa powder. Cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the Limoncello, mix lightly, and shape the dough into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and chocolate chips until well mixed. Spoon into a pastry bag with a ?-inch round tip, and place in the refrigerator.

In a 3 1/2-quart pot, heat the canola oil to 375°.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 4 pieces. Roll one piece with a rolling pin to a 1/16-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut circles from the dough. Using the rolling pin, roll each circle into an oval, and wrap each oval lengthwise around a metal form, sealing the point where they overlap with the beaten egg white. Flare the ends open with your fingers.

Gently drop the cannoli shells into the hot oil, and fry until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. When the cannolis are cool enough to touch, twist the molds away from the shells.

Use a pastry bag with a plain 1/2-inch round tip to fill the shells with the ricotta cream. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired and serve immediately.