Scrumptious cannolis – in cookie form

Ricotta is probably most famous as the mild-tasting white Italian cheese that is unceremoniously stuffed into ravioli, manicotti and pasta shells, or the soft white curds that the picky eater in the family shuns in lasagna.

Yet you can do so much more with ricotta, which can be made with milk from cows, goats or sheep (or in Italy, water buffaloes). It’s easy to find in your grocery store’s dairy section, usually next to the cottage cheese and sour cream.

And if you’re able to lay your hands on a container of fresh ricotta, even better.

Fresh ricotta has so many uses. In addition to pasta dishes, it can be baked with garlic and a little lemon zest into a cheesy spread for crostini or crackers. It can add tang to pancakes, pitch-hit for cooked potatoes in your favorite gnocchi recipe and can add pizazz to cakes and cookies, such as the delicate Holy Cannoli cookies below.


Holy Cannoli Cookies


1 cup softened unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

10 ounces mini chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup shelled pistachios, optional


In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add beaten eggs and ricotta cheese and mix until well combined.

Add vanilla extract, cinnamon and fresh orange zest.

Sprinkle in baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until well combined. Mix in flour.

Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough 2 inches apart on prepared sheet. (I used a medium cookie scooper.) Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown on bottom and around the edges. Remove to cooling rack to cool.

Microwave remaining chocolate chips in 20 second intervals, stirring in between until smooth. Drizzle over cookies.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

— Recipe from Valentino Cheese, New Castle, PA

Tribune News Service

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