Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Cannoli with Ancho Cream Cheese

Published on February 19, 2010 by   ·   7 Comments Pin It

Who says you can’t make gourmet Cannoli at home?   Have we mentioned these are vegan, parve, and crazy delicious?   These won’t be easy to make, but they suuuuuuuure are worth it!   So put on that apron, Sissy, and start baking!

Cannoli with Ancho Cream Cheese

Type: Dessert Serves: 8, Time to Prepare: 60 minutes


The shells:

  • ¼ cup soy creamer
  • 1 1/2 tsp. maple syrup
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp. raw sugar crystals
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. EnerG Egg Replacer
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour + more as needed
  • Canola oil for frying

The filling:

  • 2 anchos, rehydrated and minced
  • 12 oz. of Better than Cream Cheese
  • 3 tbsp. sweet agave nectar
  • The prickly pear cactus…
  • 4 prickly pear cactus fruits, sliced
  • Finishing ingredients…
  • Sweet agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp. powdered sugar


Start by making the dough for the shells. In a metal bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. In a blender, combine the rest of the ingredients. Blend them for about 1 minute until they are well emulsified. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well. Once the wet and dry ingredients form a dough, you can add more flour to make the dough tighter (it should feel like a soft bread dough.) Don’t over knead the dough. Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/16 of an inch. Cut out 4 inch circles. Wrap the circles around the cannoli forms. Wet your finger and run it along the seam of the wrap and press down gently to seal the wrap. Set up a deep fryer or wok and fill it with oil until it will cover the shells. Turn it up to medium high. With a set of tongs, drop the wrapped cannoli form into the oil. Fry it until it is a light golden color and immediately remove it. Set it on a paper towel to drain the oil. Repeat with the other wrapped cannoli forms.

Making the filling… Fill up a small pot with water. Turn it to medium low. While it is heating, deseed the anchos by removing the top stem and shaking out the seeds through the hole that is created. Place the anchos in the water and rehydrate them. They should turn a lighter color and the skin should smooth out. While they are rehydrating, place the Better than Cream Cheese and sweet agave nectar in a blender. Blend them on high for at least one minute. Alternatively, you can place the Better than Cream Cheese and sweet agave nectar in a narrow, tall, metal bowl and use an immersion blender on it. Pump the immersion blender up and down to fluff up the filling. Once the anchos have rehydrated, mince them very small. Stir the mince into the filling. Alternatively, you can blend it in.

Preparing the cactus fruit… Slice the cactus fruit so that you have slices about 1/8 of an inch. Lightly oil a saute pan. Heat the pan up to a medium heat. Saute the prickly pear fruit for about two minutes or until you see the colors smooth out. Place them on the plate, two or three per plate.

Toasting the pine nuts… In a saute pan, toast the pine nuts on a medium heat until they start to develop light brown spots on them. This should only take 2 or 3 minutes. Set them aside.

Filling the cannoli… Place the filling in a piping bag (see Chef’s Notes for a cheat). Attach a wide star-shaped tip. Pipe the filling into the cannoli shell until it is filled.

The setup…

Arrange the prickly pear fruit on the plate. Lay the stuffed cannoli against the fruit. Drizzle sweet agave nectar across the plate, the cannoli, and the fruit. Sift a little bit of powdered sugar across the plate. Sprinkle some of the pine nuts around the plate.

Kitchen Equipment

  • 2 or 3 Metal Bowls
  • Rolling Pin
  • A Knife or Large Ramekin to Cut the Dough
  • Blender
  • Piping Bag with Star Shaped Tip
  • 2 Saute Pans
  • Spatula for the Prickly Pear Fruit
  • Chefs’ Knife
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Whisk
  • Wok or Deep Fryer
  • Sifter


When arranging the prickly pear fruit slices, spread them on top of each other instead of just placing them side by side or stacked right on top of each other. Lay the cannoli against the fruit. Take the bottle of sweet agave nectar and quickly move it from side to side to make the lines. This works if it has the squeeze tip. If it doesn’t, put the sweet agave nectar on a spoon and do it that way. Put the powdered sugar on before the pine nuts so they pine nuts give a nice contrast against the whiteness of the sugar.

Time Management

These take awhile to make and are fairly labor intensive. However, the shells and filling can be made ahead of time. If you make the shells ahead of time, serve this as a chilled dessert. The pine nuts and the prickly pear fruit definitely need to be served fresh. Start with the dough. Get the anchos rehydrated while the dough is resting. Get the filling ready after that. Once you are done with that, roll out the dough and make the shells. While they cool, you can toast the pine nuts and get the fruit sauteed. After that, they are quick to put together.

Complimentary Food and Drinks

This goes very well with a nice Riesling or even a lightly flavored cider like a pear cider.

Where to Shop

Anchos can sometimes be found prepackaged in gourmet food stores. However, the best place to shop is one that has a preponderance of Mexican foods. Anchos can often be found there in bulk bins. Note that they are often mislabeled as pasilla peppers. The pepper should be very, very dark, dry, and the skin should be shriveled. The Better than Cream Cheese, EnerG Egg Replacer, and sweet agave nectar are most easily found at places like Whole Foods and Wild Oats. Pine nuts can be found at most places, including Costco. The rest of the ingredients can easily be found at the local supermarket.

How It Works

The dough is tight enough so that it does not fall apart when it is deep fried, but soft enough so that it creates a lightly crisped shell. Using the immersion blender on the filling fluffs it up, making it lighter. There are several different types and levels of sweetness in the dessert. The filling is slightly sweet and the anchos have their own sweetness to them. The shells are fairly sweet, but not cloyingly sweet. The cactus fruit has a little bit of sweetness, but is more astringent. Putting some of the sweet agave nectar on top of the fruit helps that. Lastly, the powdered sugar adds sprinkles of intense sweetness to the dish. The prickly pear fruit is there to give the dessert a beautiful color contrast and a contrast in taste with its astringency. It also gives people something to talk about as most people have not tried it before. The anchos are there to add another flavor most people don’t associate with dessert, which is a chili flavor, making the dish even better because of its uniqueness.

Chef’s Notes

This is also a particularly fun dish to make with friends as each person can be in the kitchen with their own job (one person can do the filling, one person prep the dough, etc.) This recipe is by no means healthy, but it is healthier than a regular dairy-based cannoli. Anchos are the dried form of the poblano pepper, which is the pepper used in chili rellenos. In Spanish, ancho means “wide”. The cannoli originated in Sicily.

Recipe via Jason Wyrick, the executive Chef and publisher of The Vegan Culinary Experience, the world’s only vegan culinary magazine. Check out this month’s issue and subscribe for free at!

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Readers Comments (7)

  1. Angela says:

    Wow, this sounds intriguing and delicious. I just had a question about the cactus pears. I know that they are filled with hard seeds on the inside. Do you remove all of the seeds before sauteing, or do you just swallow/spit out the seeds when eating?

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mrs_bassett: RT @GirlieGirlArmy: RECIPE: (Vegan) Cannoli with Ancho Cream Cheese: Be still our beating hearts!…

  3. Gina says:

    oh wow…cannoli’s used to be my all time favorite dessert. going to have to try this sometime when i feel like taking on a project!

  4. Loli says:

    Sorry to be clueless, but when you say “ancho”, do you mean like, the chili pepper?

  5. Jason says:

    Angela: The seeds are a bit of a pain to remove, so I leave them in when I make these. The cactus fruit is mostly for presentation, though I resist dredging them through the left-over agave on the plate. The tart and sweet make a wonderful combination.

    Lori: Ancho does, indeed, mean the chili. In fact, anchos and cascabels are my favorite chilis to use in desserts!

  6. Jason says:

    Woops, that shouldn’t be “resist dredging them,” the above post should read “can’t resist dredging them.”

  7. MANGO says:

    It looks so delicious!
    I’ve never eaten the cannoli !
    I’ll try make it soon !
    Thanks for sharing xx

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