Italian Pastries – Cannoncini Horns Recipe
Italians are known for many sweet treats. But amongst their most famous are the Italian Pastries; luscious desserts filled with cream.
One of my favourite Italian Pastries is the famous cannoli. In Sicily, where my family hails from, you can get these crunchy pastry tubes filled two ways, with straight up ricotta cheese or a combo of ricotta and cream. The combo mixture makes a less grainy filling and adds another level of richness with smooth texture.
While making cannoli shells takes a lot of practice, you can still get the essence of the dessert with Italian Cannoncini or Italian Horn Pastries filled with cream.
If you’re not familiar with Italian Pastries, Cannoncini are Pastry Horns (also called Custard Horns or Cream Horns) filled with luscious pastry cream.
These homemade Italian pastries will not only taste incredible, they’ll impress your guests. As a baker, one thing I never spend time making is puff pastry dough. It’s so arduous. Why make it yourself when the pros make it for you.
For this recipe, buy your favourite brand of Puff Pastry dough at your local supermarket and spend time making the pastry cream. If you don’t have time to make the pastry cream, you can buy the powdered mix and it will work just as well.
- 1 package of Puff Pasty dough
- 1 egg beaten (for brushing pastry)
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- White Sugar for sprinkling
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 350˚ degrees
- Remove puff pastry from freezer and allow to thaw for about 20 minutes.
- Once thawed but still cold, take one sheet and cut it evenly into 12 strips
- Brush each strip around its edges with beaten egg wash to help bind the strips to each other
- Starting at the end of a pastry horn tube mold, begin wrapping the dough around the tube
- Brush each pastry with butter and sprinkle with sugar. (Don’t skip the sugar step! It helps to slightly sweeten the dough and adds a bit of crunch.)
- Bake on a baking rack for about 12-15 minutes until golden.
For the Pastry Cream:
- In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until it simmers.
- In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/3 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture at a time, until it has been incorporated. This is called tempering so your eggs don’t scramble.
- Pour the egg mixture into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking until it thickens about 3 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean.
- Pour custard into a clean blow and using an electric mixture beat in butter until incorporated and mixture cools down for about 5 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cool in fridge until it’s thickened for at least 2-3 hours.
Using a piping bag, fill each horn with pastry cream until filled to the top. Finish off Italian pastries with a dusting of powdered sugar.
You can play with the fillings by adding half pastry cream and half extra thick, drain ricotta for a more traditional cannoli taste!
The result will be buttery, flaky cream-filled horn pastries your friends will think came from your local Italian bakery.
—by Toni-Marie Ippolito