Ricotta and Lemon Curd Filled Cannoli Shells

I am very fortunate to work with a wonderful woman who happens to be of Italian descent. She and I were chatting about her Christmas Eve dinner and particularly her spaghetti sauce. One ingredient in the sauce that I had never thought of adding but which added a wonderful flavor was celery salt.

When I realized that seven would be at Bret’s Table for Christmas Day dinner I decided to take the recipe she recited and see if I could recreate it. It turned out to a truly wonderful red sauce and one that I hope she will let me add to my cookbook.

To continue with the Italian theme, I served Cannoli Shells (Alessi Brand). I made a lemon curd into which I folded some whole milk ricotta and sweetened whipped cream. for the filling.

Here’s the recipe for the Lemon Curd:

8 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest from two lemons
1 cup lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
8 ounces unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until evenly blended and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt until the sugar has melted.

Whisk about ¾ cup of the hot liquid over the eggs to temper them. Return the egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk until the curd thickens; about 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the butter.

Spoon the curd into a clean bowl and cover the top with food film, pressing it down directly on the curd. Set aside to cool slightly, then place in the refrigerator to set completely.

I whipped about 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream with 1/3 cup of powdered sugar. I folded this into about a 1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta. Then I folded in the lemon curd. I returned this to the refrigerator to set-up (can be made the day prior).

When ready to fill the shells, I placed the filling in a piping bag and filled the shells. I sprinkled the ends of each with toasted chopped pistachio nuts and crystallized lemon peel.

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