What the heck is Cowboy Cannoli? I bet you’ve never heard of those. These savory bacon cannoli are made with crispy bacon shells and filled with whipped ricotta cheese. I could have gone with the usual American cream cheese filling, but I wanted to retain something from the original Italian cannoli. I garnish them with chopped jalapenos, fresh or pickled, scallions, red onions, again, fresh or pickled, or crushed tortilla chips. It just feels like this is the kind of cannoli a real cowboy would enjoy; that’s why I called them ‘Cowboy Cannoli.’
Cowboy cannoli are delicious! They will make excellent snacks or appetizers at parties and potlucks. If you are looking for low-carb snack ideas, these little morsels will fit the bill perfectly. Each one has only 3 grams of carbohydrates.
You will need cannoli tubes and thick-cut bacon to make the bacon shells. Thin-cut bacon will be hard to remove without breaking unless you undercook it a little, but where is fun in that? Best, get some thick-cup bacon and crisp it very nicely.
The whipped ricotta filling in this recipe is beyond delicious. You must use whole milk ricotta cheese for the creamiest, most delicious consistency. However, skim milk ricotta will also work, but you will lose the creaminess.
My favorite fixings to complement cowboy cannoli are jalapeno peppers, scallions, crushed tortilla chips, and red onions or shallots. The jalapenos and red onions can be fresh or pickled, or both. I like to serve my cowboy cannoli with a variety of fixings. You can even serve the fixings in individual bowls on the side. But feel free to experiment with other fixings; your imagination is the only limit here.
Before serving, sprinkle the cannoli with freshly ground Parmesan cheese and sliced scallions. Delish! These make fantastic appetizers and party food. Who wouldn’t want to have a few of these? Seriously, these morsels can compete with such delicacies as pig shots and Texas twinkies. And you don’t need a smoker to make them!
By the way, these delicious morsels are completely gluten-free and will make excellent gluten-free snacks or appetizers.
Making bacon shells
Metal cannoli tubes work best to make well-done, crispy bacon in the oven. Wrap bacon slices such that both ends end up at the bottom. Otherwise, they – the ends – will uncoil and curl up. Make each new coil overlap the previous one by about 1/4″.
Thick-cut bacon can vary in thickness, and different ovens bake differently. Therefore, the baking time will vary. I bake my bacon at 400F; it works the best. However, the timing may vary. Based on my experiments, it will be between 15 and 25 minutes. So, start checking at 15 minutes and keep an eye on them; you don’t want the bacon to overcook and dry out.
Don’t try to remove the bacon shells right after baking. Let them cool down for about 8-10 minutes o until the metal tubes are cool enough to hold by hand. Use a paper towel to hold the bacon shell while gently twisting the cannoli pipe and pulling the shell off. It’s quite easy to do. But don’t let the bacon cool too long, 0r it will get stuck to the tubes and will be hard to remove without breaking.
Serving and storing cowboy cannoli
Cowboy cannoli are best when they are fresh. So, make them and serve them immediately. As is the case with regular cannoli, bacon shells become soft and soggy over time. If you must prepare them in advance, do not fill the shells until ready to serve.
Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.
- 16 slices thick-cut bacon
- 1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
- 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos finely chopped
- 6 tortilla chips crushed
- 1 scallion thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion or shallot finely chopped
- freshly ground Parmesan cheese
Whipped Ricotta Filling
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- zest from 1 lemon grated
- 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
- In a food processor, add ricotta cheese, lemon zest, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Process until the ricotta is very smooth and very fluffy, about 20 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and process again for 20 seconds.
- Wrap the bacon slices around cannoli shells and place them on the baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and fitted with a cooling rack, ensuring both ends are tucked underneath. Bake at 400F for 15-25 minutes or until the bacon is cooked through and crispy.
- Let the bacon shells cool down for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the cannoli tubes. Use a piece of paper towel to hold the bacon while gently twisting the cannoli tube and pulling the bacon shell off.
- Next, fill the shells with whipped ricotta cheese using a pastry bag with a large tip.
- Finally, dip the ends of the cowboy cannoli in the prepared fixings, arrange on a serving platter, garnish with ground Parmesan cheese and some sliced scallions, and serve.