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Cannoli Cake

Elisa Constantini shares her recipes for scrumptious prosciutto-stuffed chicken breasts, plus a guest-worthy cannoli cake. TODAY, December 6th 2016.
Elisa Constantini shares her recipes for scrumptious prosciutto-stuffed chicken breasts, plus a guest-worthy cannoli cake. TODAY, December 6th 2016.Nathan R. Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

This cannoli cake is a show-stopping dessert to serve at a holiday party or any special occasion. If you're in a rush, you can use a box of butter cake mix instead of making the cake from scratch.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • cups sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or mini chocolate chips
  • 16 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mini chocolate chips
  • 2 cannoli shells


For the cake:

Grease two 9-inch pans with butter and flour.

In a bowl, sift or whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy.  

Gradually add sugar. Add the egg yolks, in two batches, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Finally, add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and milk, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to confirm the center is cooked. Remove from the oven and place cakes in their pans on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans onto the rack. Allow the cakes to cool before frosting. 

For the filling:

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, rum, and almond and vanilla extract. Stir in chocolate with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate until ready.

For the frosting:

With an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese and confectioners' sugar. Add vanilla extract and combine on medium speed. Gradually add the milk until the mixture is thick and creamy.  

To assemble the cake:

Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread the filling evenly over the cake. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the mascarpone frosting. Line the sides of the cake with the chocolate chips and press gently so they stick to the frosting. Using and icing bag with large nozzle, drop circles of frosting, 1 inch in diameter, around the top and bottom of the cake. Garnish the center with the mini chocolate chips and the filled cannoli shells. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Reprinted with permission from Italian Moms: Spreading Their Art to Every Table by Elisa Constantini