08 Aug 2018

The Sicilian cannolo: origins and curiosities

The Sicilian cannolo is certainly one of the most popular sweets, loved and above all exported all over the world.

Symbol of Sicilian confectionery tradition, cannolo is a real delicacy thanks to its crispy waffle, which contains a very delicate sheep ricotta cream, filled with candied fruit, chocolate pralines and dried fruit grains.

The controversial origins

As often happens in confectionery, the origins of a dessert are not always so clear and this also applies to the cannolo, whose paternity is still unknown today.

In the case of Sicilian cannoli there are in fact at least two controversial versions that tell of his birth and realization. Each of them, even if different, contains in itself a fund of truth. Let’s see them together.

The first version traces this sweet to the Saracen domination, in Sicily, and tells of the harem women of the then “Qal-at-al-nisa” (Caltanissetta), who during the long absences of their spouse to deceive the time, they devoted themselves to preparing sweets.
According to this version, they would have modified a sweet Arabic, composed of ricotta almonds and honey, with an ancient sweet from the Roman period cited by Cicero, thus creating the first Sicilian cannolo.

A second version instead attributes the realization of this sweet always to women but this time, to cloistered nuns of a convent in Caltanissetta. The nuns, after making the dessert, gave it this name, because inspired by the river reeds around which the dough was rolled to shape the wafer.

The Sicilian cannolo today

As often happens with desserts of a “certain importance”, even the Sicilian cannolo has undergone a series of reinterpretations and every master pastry chef, over time has given his personal contribution.

Today it is possible to taste the cannolo in different variations, from the one made with the wafer to the oven rather than as tradition wants to be fried, with the filling of chantilly cream, or filled with a pistachio cream, chocolate and many other variations still all from try, which transform this traditional dessert into a really versatile cake full of surprises.