Ice Cream Cones Are The Perfect Shortcut For At-Home Cannolis

Cannolis are an Italian pastry that, thankfully, have become more mainstream. The signature sweetened ricotta cheese filling can now be found in ice cream flavors, cake layers, and cupcake frosting. Still, the contrasting texture of a traditional cannoli with its crispy shell and creamy filling is unmatched.

Most Italian bakeries sell cannolis, which means they're typically easy to find and enjoy at home. However, if they are assembled too far in advance and not enjoyed right away, the shell can get soggy and ruin the dessert. Traditional cannolis can also be made at home if you have the right tools, including a cannoli mold. They are a labor of love, though, requiring the dough to be kneaded, chilled, cut, rolled, and deep fried to make the crispy tubes that hold the sweetened ricotta filling, but there is a perfect shortcut.

Ice cream cones can be substituted for the cannoli shell, replicating the texture without any of the hard work. The cones can be filled with homemade or store-bought cannoli cream right before serving to ensure you get the beloved crunchy/creamy combination.

How to make cannoli cones

Usually, cannolis consist of a thin, crispy shell and a creamy filling studded with mini chocolate chips or pistachio pieces. The ricotta filling is simple, combining the whipped cheese with confectioners sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. The mini chocolate chips or pistachios are often folded into the cream, but candied cherries and orange peels can be used, too. The filling can be made beforehand and placed in a pastry bag or large plastic baggie in the refrigerator until you assemble the cannoli cones.

Sugar cones or mini waffle ice cream cones are the perfect size for cannoli cones. They are delicious plain but can be elevated by coating the mouth with chocolate. Chocolate lovers may also enjoy a dollop of Nutella at the bottom of the cone, ensuring the last bite has some chocolatey goodness, too.

A good idea is to stand the cones in drinking glasses until the chocolate hardens before adding the filling (this can be done hours in advance of serving). Since the cream is thick, cannoli cones can be presented lying down on a platter or placed in tall shot glasses standing up. Don't forget to dust them with powdered sugar before serving, too.

Cannoli filling variations

Cannolis are traditionally made with ricotta, but that doesn't mean it's the only way to prepare them. You can combine creamy combinations to customize this simple dessert for your palette, also using mascarpone, whipped topping, and cream cheese. Rather than fill the ice cream cones for individual desserts, you could also break the cones into chips and serve the deconstructed cannoli as a dessert dip. 

For those who love a salty/sweet combination, try a chocolate peanut butter cannoli cone made with cream cheese, frozen whipped topping like Cool Whip, creamy peanut butter, and Nutella.

Or, for a brighter take, try a key lime cannoli. For this take, you can dip the cone in melted white chocolate and roll it in chopped pistachios to emphasize the lime green hue of the dessert. Pumpkin spice fans might also love cannolis filled with ricotta, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and confectioners sugar (and bonus points if you can turn the shape into a turkey for Thanksgiving).