Your Guide to Fried Glass Cannoli
Why fry your glass cannoli? Speed, a crumbly "su" texture, and richness.
Our original glass cannoli recipe called for baking: 325F for 20-30 minutes. Baking is ideal if you…
Want a uniform aesthetic
Are making a small batch
Want a healthy-ish dessert
Are making ahead of time.
What happens if you fry your cannoli instead? I made several test batches to find out.
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It turns out that frying is different from baking in 4 main ways:
Mouthfeel. Frying creates a more flaky, crumble-in-your-mouth consistency, like a fatty shortbread cookie. In Mandarin Chinese, this quality is called su 酥. Baking, on the other hand, produces more crunch.
Speed. Fried cannoli are ready in ~1 minute, compared to 20-30 minutes for baked. This is helpful if you are making a large quantity. (If you fry just 4 cannoli at a time, you can easily make >200/hour, using only a few molds.)
Appearance. Whereas baked cannoli are heated by gentle convection, fried are heated (primarily) by violent conduction. Upon contact with hot oil, water in the cannoli bubbles up. This bubbling creates non-uniform air pockets, which if left to their own devices will unravel. (If managed well, this non-uniformity tastes delicious.) Conduction won’t cook the cannoli evenly if the fryer is crowded, and it won’t cook their tops if not submerged.
Shelf life. If fried cannoli shells aren’t eaten immediately, their delicate flakiness decays into toughness. (In contrast, baked shells, sitting at room temperature, uncovered, can last several days.)
Removal. Fried cannoli never stick to their mold.
If you choose to fry your glass cannoli, here are a few tips:
Choose your target temperature. 350F and higher will cause the outer yuba layers to bubble from within. On the tongue, these micro bubbles crackle like pop rocks. They have the delicate touch of tempura. (This method of frying is used to make xianglingjuan 响铃卷, a Chinese yuba roll eaten in hot pot.) 325F will fry more calmly and evenly, and it won’t be so quick to unravel. Either way, use a thermometer.
Don’t sprinkle on as much sugar as you would for baking. Excess is quick to burn. Syrup caramelizes slower so is more forgiving.
To prevent unraveling, seal the bottom seam before frying, using simple syrup as a glue. If syrup alone doesn’t do it, add pressure: place the cannoli seam side down, then use the outside of the mold to press downwards.
Flip for even cooking. Wait 30 seconds for the bottom to seam to set, flip, fry 30 seconds more, and remove. (Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.)
As mentioned above, eat immediately! Otherwise, the cannoli will become tough.
Which is better? Both!
Someone should really open a stand at the State Fair.
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