If there are just a few things I’ll remember about my first trip to Boston, I hope the cannolis will be on that list forever. While exploring the city on foot, we discovered Mike’s Pastry in the North End. I’m still unsure if Bostonians actually think this place is a tradition, or consider it a tourist trap. Either way, I was entranced by the sights and smells.
Mike’s version shaped my guidelines for all future cannoli – 1.) It must have a crisp shell, 2.) It has to be filled with lightly sweetened ricotta, and 3.) Not a requirement, but if there are pistachios or mini chocolate chips dotting the ends, it’ll get bonus points in my Cannoli Hall of Fame Scrapbook (not a real thing / should be). Even though I went rogue and used strawberries instead of shells today (it’s too hot to turn on the oven and bake shells), I still met 2 out of my 3 requirements. Not too shabby.
I found a recipe for Stuffed Strawberries inspired by cannoli, and I was sold. I recommend that you serve these immediately (or refrigerate them for just an hour if you need to), because to be honest, they get a little watery after that. Despite that drawback, I love the flavors – the tangy vanilla- and lemon-flecked ricotta plays well with the sweet strawberry, and the bit of crunch sprinkled on at the end adds a texture contrast. Its a fruity Boston-inspired sweet treat for when it’s too damn hot to turn on the oven.
Yield: 14 to 18 strawberries
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1 pound fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Chopped pistachios or mini chocolate chips, for garnish (optional)
- Place ricotta in a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Place in refrigerator for one hour.
- Meanwhile, using a small melon baller or spoon, hollow out insides of strawberries.
- Stir together strained ricotta, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Using a pastry bag or small spoon, fill strawberries with ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with pistachios or chocolate chips, if desired. Serve immediately, if possible, or refrigerate up to 1 hour.
Adapted from Sara Moulton’s Stuffed Strawberries.
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