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The origins of Sicilian cannoli

Sicilian cannoli are one of the most famous Italian pastries. What are the origins of this delicacy?

Here come the cannoli

Cannoli are made of tube-shaped fried pastry dough stuffed with a cream made of sweetened sheep ricotta. Then candied fruit or chocolate chips are added and the pastries are finished with a dusting of icing sugar. Delicious!

Cannoli take their name from canne, the river canes that were used to shape the dough in a tube. According to legend, the tubular shape is a sign of fertility, of a generating force and pushing away evil influences.

Who invented cannoli...concubines or nuns?

According to a legend, cannoli were first made in “Kalt el Nissa” (in arabic, “Castle of the women”), the modern city of Caltanissettathat hosted the harems of the Saracen emirs under Arab rule in Sicily.

It is said that the emir’s concubines would bake pastries as a diversion. Cannoli were among these delicacies.

According to another story, cannoli were made for the first time in a convent near Caltanissetta. To celebrate Carnival, the nuns “invented” a tubular pastry filled with ricotta cream, chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts.