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These Cannoli Cookies are the perfect Italian Christmas cookie! Soft, chewy cookies filled with a creamy “ricotta” filling, then stuffed with buttery pistachios and chocolate chips. Plus, they’re naturally dairy and egg-free!
Table of Contents
Over the years, we’ve been veganizing all of the comfort Italian classics I grew up with. And after making our insanely delicious Vegan Cannoli, we thought it would be fun to put a tasty twist on the Sicilian Italian pastry. Introducing the delicious flavors in a creamy cannoli served up in cookie form.
If you love our Vegan Pizzelles, you’re absolutely going to love these Italian “ricotta” cookies this holiday season!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Sugar: White granulated sugar sweetens the cookies perfectly without affecting the color of the final baked cookies. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend using alternate sugars such as brown sugar or coconut sugar.
- Orange zest: Adds a refreshing pop of citrus to the creamy “ricotta” filling. For the best flavor, always zest your oranges right before adding them to the cookie batter!
- Butter: Our favorite vegan butter sticks to use are by Country Crock or Earth Balance. We used salted vegan butter, but if you opt for an unsalted variety, you may want to add a pinch more salt.
- Cream cheese: Our favorite store-bought cream cheese of choice is Kite Hill’s almond-based cream cheese. It’s the perfect dairy-free cream cheese that acts very similarly to dairy cream cheese in baked goods.
- Miso paste: Combining the cream cheese with miso paste helps make it the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and replicates the flavor of ricotta cheese. To keep these cookies lighter in color, we recommend using white miso paste.
- Flour: Like our classic cannoli recipe, we have only tested our cannoli cookies using all-purpose flour. If you’d like to experiment with a gluten-free version, we’d recommend using a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend, but again, we can’t confirm it will work well.
- Pistachios + chocolate chips: The traditional cannoli recipe is known for its toppings. To replicate this same flavor, we opted for our personal favorite combo – a mix of freshly chopped pistachios and mini chocolate chips.
- Use almond extract: Replace the vanilla extract with almond extract
- Add a chocolate drizzle: If you have extra chocolate chips, melt them using a double boiler or the microwave, transfer them to a piping bag or Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off, and drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled cookies to taste.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar: Just like the classic pastry, dust the final baked cookies with powdered sugar to taste.
- Use lemon zest: Replace the orange zest with lemon zest for a lemony flavor.
- Mixing bowls
- Parchment paper
- Electric hand mixer or stand mixer
- Rubber spatula
- Baking sheet
- Wire cooling rack
How to Make Cannoli Cookies
- Combine the sugar and orange zest. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is slightly orange.
- Cream the butter and sugar. In the same bowl, add the softened vegan butter, cream cheese, and miso. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until smooth and well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the vanilla. Once smooth and creamy, pour in the vanilla extract and cream again until well incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients. Next, add in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and mix until just combined.
- Fold in the pistachios and chocolate chips. Add the pistachios and chocolate chips to the cannoli cookie dough. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the nuts and chips in until well dispersed throughout.
- Chill for 1 hour. Let the dough chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Scoop the cookie dough. Once the dough has sufficiently chilled, scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon dough balls, then place them on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart (use multiple if needed).
- Bake. Bake the cannoli cookies for 14-16 minutes, then let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature. Serve and enjoy!
Just like traditional cannoli, these cannoli cookies can be served for breakfast or dessert. It’s the perfect companion for a cup of coffee or tea, a drizzle of chocolate or Caramel Sauce, a scoop of vegan ice cream, or with fresh fruit and a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream!
Cannoli cookies would also make the perfect addition to your holiday cookie trays or gift boxes for neighbors, friends, teachers, and more.
Similar to our Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies these cookies made with cream cheese will keep best in the refrigerator. Let them cool to room temperature completely before covering and storing in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Absolutely! If you have a stand mixer, cream the sugar, butter, and cream cheese mixture in the stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed. Then, when adding the wet ingredients, continue to mix with the paddle attachment, but at a very low speed.
When developing our classic Vegan Cannoli recipe, we tested making the creamy filling with our vegan ricotta (without the herbs). We didn’t find the flavor to work very well in the pastry, and instead, we found the tanginess of vegan cream cheese combined with miso paste to replicate creamy whole milk ricotta best.
Yes! This cookie dough will freeze well. Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon-sized balls, flash freeze them on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Use room-temperature ingredients! Before getting started, it’s important to make sure the butter and cream cheese are sufficiently softened. From experience, we find this typically takes 1-2 hours, depending on the internal temperature of your kitchen.
- Don’t skip the chill time. This keeps the cookies from overspreading into thin, greasy puddles.
- Make 2 tablespoon-sized balls. The bake time for these cannoli cookies is developed to suit cookies that are 2 tablespoons in size. if you choose to make the cookies larger or smaller, the bake time will need to be altered.
- Use Kite-Hill cream cheese. Not only do we find Kite-Hill cream cheese to have the most authentic flavor, but it’s also made without oil. This is important when baking because it won’t melt the same way an oil-based vegan cream cheese will. This ensures the cookies won’t overspread due to too much oil in the recipe.