“Leave the gun.  Take the cannoli.” This is my favorite movie quote – ever – from the 1972 classic The Godfather.  As the daughter of a Sicilian immigrant, I cannot think of a more iconic Sicilian dessert than the cannolo.  Yes, the singular is cannolo and the pleural is cannoli – meaning that there is no “s” to be added at the end of the word cannoli.  

The cannoli-maker in our family was my uncle, Sebastian.  This cannoli cheesecake is an ode to my uncle, who passed away in 2007 after a long battle with sequelae of rheumatic heart disease.  Despite undergoing five mitral valve replacements, he always arrived with a cookie sheet filled with fresh, homemade cannoli at Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

As kids, we didn’t love the traditional ricotta filling, so he mixed homemade whipped cream with chocolate or vanilla jello pudding mix to stuff the shells.  Maraschino cherries, colored sprinkles, and powdered sugar completed the holiday treats.  He knew to guard his carefully crafted creations from my fingers that tried year after year to catch a taste of the filling before the Thanksgiving turkey had been cut. 

While cannoli are associated with Italian desserts, they are an iconic Sicilian sweet.  The magic is in the shell and there are so many different varieties of cannoli shell.  I am, of course, partial to the shell that my uncle made which included cocoa powder and instant coffee.  The cocoa powder gave the shell a slightly darker color and the coffee lends a depth of flavor to the crust not easily achieved with marsala wine.  

The process of making cannoli is, to say the least, somewhat laborious.  But don’t worry – this cheesecake is super easy and has all the flavors of a cannolo.    

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Cannoli Cheesecake

  • Author: Christina
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x


The process of making cannoli is somewhat laborious.  But don’t worry – this cheesecake is super easy and has all the flavors of a cannolo.


Units Scale

Cannoli Shell Crust

  • 2 cups ground cannoli shells (about 8 or 9 large shells)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter, melted


  • 24 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 Tbs cake flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make the cannoli shell crust: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for the crust together with a fork.  Spoon into the bottom of a springform pan.  To form the crust, press down with the bottom of a glass.  Most springform pans are nonstick, so no need for buttering or lining the pan to prevent the cheesecake from sticking.
  3. Make the cheesecake: In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the ricotta and sugars for at least 5 minutes.  Add flour and salt.  Mix to combine.  Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time mixing well after each addition.  Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all the cheese is well incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and mix to combine.  With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream.  Mix to combine.
  4. Bake the cheesecake: Place the springform pan into a large turkey bag.  Do not tie the top over the cheesecake, just roll down the excess plastic along the top of the pan.  Place the pan into a deep-dish casserole dish or lasagna pan.  Pour cheesecake mixture onto the crust. Dust the top with the cinnamon.
  5. Pour water around the bag to create a water bath.  You don’t have to have to the water come completely to the edge of the pan, but it should come up at least ¾ of the side of the pan.  It is usually easier to pour the water in once the pan has been place in the oven (so you aren’t trying to transport a pan filled with water across the kitchen).
  6. Cook for 60-70 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  When removing the pan from the water bath, it is easiest to remove the turkey bag and pan from the water bath. Allow the pan containing the water to cool overnight.  Then you can safely remove the pan and room temperature water the next morning from the oven.  Refrigerate overnight or until completely chilled.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
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