From BLT to ricotta cheese, these finger foods using cannoli forms will impress guests young and old.
By Rosemarie Aquilina
Photography by Viviana Pernot
Children and adults love these cannoli apps. I can never make enough. I often make three packages of bacon. I fill these with my family’s favorite BLT ingredients, scrambled eggs or my favorite dip or cheese ball recipes. It’s easy to be creative! You can use thin or thick sliced turkey bacon, or vegetarian bacon. You need cannoli forms (they can be ordered online for an affordable price). I have about 50. I prefer the nonstick forms, but since bacon is greasy once it cooks, it can easily come off any type of cannoli form.
Serves: You decide
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Line a baking sheet with edges with foil or make edges with foil.
Using as many cannoli tubes as you have bacon (or make in batches 12 to 16 at a time) wrap one slice of bacon, overlapping edges to cover the tube. Place on sheet.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes, more or less depending on thickness of bacon. Midway, pull out of oven and turn over to ensure all sides crisp evenly. When cooked, not burned, pull out. Let cool a few minutes, then slide the curl off the form. You may have to gently wiggle the bacon to free the edges from the form. Set bacon on paper towel to remove any excess grease.
While the bacon is cooking prepare the following:
1 hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut into spears, seeded, about 5 inches (longer than the rolls)
1 avocado, peeled, seed removed and cut into spears
Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into spears
Place the following inside each bacon roll in this order working from softest to firmest: avocado, tomato, cucumber. Serve!
Variations: For breakfast I serve some plain and others filled with scrambled eggs. For appetizer platters I make my favorite dip, place in a piping bag and pipe in each end. Below are just a few options. Get creative and ask your children to help!
Cheesy Herb Dip-Filled Bacon Rolls
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cloves garlic or equivalent garlic paste (1 teaspoon = 1 medium clove)
4 large basil leaves
12 chives or 4 green onions
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
12–24 bacon rolls (baked on cannoli form, see above)
Place all ingredients except for bacon rolls in food processor and blend. Adjust to taste.
Place in piping bag with star tip and pipe into bacon rolls.
I usually fill 12 bacon rolls and use any remaining to pipe into cherry tomatoes, tops cut off and insides spooned out; or pipe onto hothouse cucumber wheels; or, place in serving dish surrounded by vegetables or crackers.
Ricotta Cheese Bacon Cannoli
1 1/3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, drained overnight in fine mesh sieve
1/3 cup powdered sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (or other chocolate as desired)
¼ cup chopped peeled pistachio nuts (or other nuts as desired)
12 bacon curls, cooled — bake using cannoli form
Mix ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice with electric mixer until well mixed and fluffy. Cover and refrigerate. In a small bowl, mix chocolate chips and nuts.
To assemble, place ricotta mixture in piping bag with any large tip, and pipe into each end of bacon curls until filled. Dip each end into chocolate or nuts and serve immediately. If you do not have a piping bag, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off to pipe in filling.
My children will eat anything on a toothpick, salad included. I often serve this to my guests, place it on my holiday tables and always make this on Italian meal nights. My children love to help make these, then happily eat their creations!
1 container mini mozzarella cheese balls, cherry or pearl size (then I use two)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, red or mixed colors, the smallest you can find
1 package fresh basil, washed and dried (or buy a basil plant sold in the vegetable section, pluck the leaves then let them grow)
2 cups fresh pitted Kalamata olives, drained
1 to 2 hothouse cucumbers, washed and peeled so some of the green is left on, as desired; cut off ends and slice remainder into ¼-inch wide wheels. Leave wheels whole or halve them — slice straight if you want the sticks to stand up on the plate.
Balsamic vinegar glaze to place on table (or make your own mixture: ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil mixed with 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, any type preferred. This is thinner than the store-bought one, which is a reduction, but either works well.)
Salt and pepper to place on table
1 package of extra-long toothpicks
Prick onto extra-long toothpick in the following order, or as desired: basil leaf, mozzarella ball, tomato, pitted Kalamata olive, cucumber wheel. You can change the inside order, but I usually begin with basil and end with cucumber. Lay or stand on a platter, or do a combination of standing in center surrounded by laying ones.
Note: Just before serving, sprinkle balsamic glaze over all, or set it next to the tray you’ve made and let your guests decide if they want to use it. These are great plain or with glaze.
Variations: Add squares of red, green, yellow or orange bell peppers.
To continue the food theme: Prepare a table of all finger food. Fill platter of seasonal fruit (melons, berries, grapes, etc.) on long toothpicks with various yogurt to dip the fruit into. Add a platter of party meatballs with colorful or frilly toothpicks!
Have a cooking question for Judge Aquilina? Leave your question in the comments below!
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