A basic cannolo lightly sprinkled with confectioner's sugar
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Region or state||Sicily|
|Main ingredient(s)||fried pastry dough, ricotta filling|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2008)|
Cannoli are Sicilian pastry desserts. The singular is cannolo (or in the Sicilian language cannolu), meaning "little tube", with the etymology stemming from the Latin "canna", or reed. Cannoli originated in Sicily and are an essential part of Sicilian cuisine. They are also popular in Italian American cuisine and in the United States are known as a general Italian pastry, while they are specifically Sicilian in origin. In Italy they are commonly known as "cannoli siciliani", Sicilian cannoli.
Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta. They range in size from "cannulicchi", no bigger than a finger, to the fist-sized proportions typically found south of Palermo, Sicily.
Cannoli comes from the Palermo area and were historically prepared as a treat during Carnevale season, possibly as a fertility symbol; one legend assigns their origin to the harem of Caltanissetta. The dessert eventually became a year-round staple throughout Italy.
Italian-American variants 
The versions with which Americans are most familiar tend to involve variations on the original concept. This is possibly due to adaptations made by Italians who emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s and discovered limited availability of certain ingredients. The cannoli sold in Italian-American bakeries today usually still contain ricotta, but mascarpone is a less common alternative. Rarely, the filling is a simple custard of sugar, milk, and cornstarch. In either case, the cream is often flavored with vanilla or orange flower water and a small amount of cinnamon. Chopped pistachios, semi-sweet chocolate pieces, and candied citrus peel or cherries are often still included, dotting the open ends of the pastry. Today there are companies such as Cannoli Express that are expanding on the cannoli, filling it with Nutella, peanut butter and many more non-traditional ingredients. The Guinness World Record for cannoli eaten in one sitting is 347, and was set by Jeff H. H. Cantone of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, United States.
In popular culture 
Cannoli are mentioned in the film, The Godfather, where Richard Castellano as Peter Clemenza, having overseen the killing of the traitor Paulie Gatto, says to his partner Rocco Lampone, "Leave the gun – take the cannoli". In Godfather III, the character Don Altobello played by Eli Wallach is killed by eating a poisoned cannolo while attending the opera. Similarly, in a scene in the film, Death Wish V: The Face of Death, a man is also killed by eating a poisoned cannolo, courtesy of Charles Bronson's character, Paul Kersey.
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