For most of us Roses are pure decoration, symbolic of love and affection, yet most of us have no idea that Roses actually taste heavenly too. That is correct!
Rose is a sweet perfume, followed by fragrant floral notes and just a tad woodsy. It leaves a nectar like impression on you, and it lingers with you a gentle while, and then it's gone, as fragile as the flower itself.
And from Roses, comes Rose Water, which is used heavily in Persian and Middle Eastern cooking and in Indian and Pakistani food as well, especially in milk-based desserts. It adds that gentle floral note which is a perfect compliment to warm spices, or when used in desserts, it just elevates the sweetness of the dish by adding a floral note. And since the time I visited that hole-in-the-wall Pakistani restaurant and tried their Kheer (rice pudding) with the essence of Rose, that memory has stayed with me! I had to do revisit Rose in my kitchen.
A little while ago, I received a gift from the lovely people are Bob's Red Mill—their truly amazing Organic All Purpose Baking Flour (in fact, it was me who reached out to them since I've always admired the fact that they're an employee-owned company and that they make some amazing products accessible to so many people.)
I really love the textural contrasts on Canolis. Crunchy exterior and a completely versatile filling that is open and limited only by your imagination! This was the perfect vehicle to incorporate some Rose flavor into. And especially when these are mini in size, they're that much more precious, palatable and personal.
With every bite you get the sense that you're taking a little trip, and then it's over. Start a new one and keep going. The size really matters in this case and makes them that much more special.
The Canoli dough comes together rather easily. Flour, butter, eggs and some sugar. Spike it with some white wine and knead.
Get in there with your hands and get a real sense of how the dough is shaping, how it's acting and learn how it's going to turn out. I have a belief that maybe someday I'll understand this dough much better and all my cooking juju will will align into place.
You get a certain sense of pride when the dough is handmade, a bit like how your mom or your grandma would've liked you to do it.
There are varying layers of complimentary flavors in this Canoli. It starts with creamy and airy Ricotta, followed by another level of richness brought by the creamy Mascarpone. Next a slight sweetness, followed by the fragrant Cardamom and then the lasting perfume of the Rose. It stays with you for a bit, as it changes the aroma of the air around you. It takes your mind to a new place that is somewhat reminiscent of the very far east.
Let me also introduce you to what maybe the most quintessential drink of the east Sherbet é Rooh Afza, loosely translating in Urdu to The Drink to Uplift Your Soul. And that meaning has proven true to me for all of my childhood. This is the drink of the summers for North Indians and Pakistanis to quench the thirst in the hot months of the year.
This luminescent red colored drink, is a complex and sweet combination of rose flavored floral notes that leave a cooling effect that travels deep into your body. Guess the drink stands true to its name.
The red Sherbet invades the virgin snowy cheese landscape with vigor. It's contagious and I paint the town red.
The dough needs a lot of rolling so it's really really thin when it hits the hot oil. Around 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch thin. This is another time, when the dough makes you work hard and reminds you that food is food when it's cooked and made and prepared.
The irony of it all is that, the whole time you make this dough and then you let it set, and then it hits the oil, and the shells fry up in under 2 minutes. Done. And just like that you have Canoli shells.
Stuffing the shells is fun. This is the marriage of the dough and the cheese, the skin and the heart coming together. What started as powdery snowy flour, has been transformed into a crispy shell of crunchy goodness.
The stuffing sits like a crown on top of the Canoli—depending on how you look at it :)
Rose Sherbet & Cardamom Mini Canolis
Makes 12 mini Canolis
Ingredients (Canoli dough)
1 cup all purpose baking flour
1 tbsp Sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp salted butter (semi-soft)
1/2 cup fresh Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
5 to 6 drops Rose essence
1 tbsp Rose Sherbet (I used Rooh Afza —much cheaper at the Indian grocery store)
1/2 tbsp Cardamom powder (or seeds powdered in a mortar pestle)
2 1/2 cups oil for frying
1 egg beaten
In a bowl, sieve the flour and add the semi-soft butter and 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup sugar and mix gently. Once incorporated, knead the dough well and firm, but not too much. Stop when it all just comes together. Flatten the dough a bit and wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.
In another bowl, mix the Ricotta, the Mascarpone, and all the flavors—sugar, rose, and cardamom powder. Mix well, till sugar and cardamom are incorporated. Add the Rose sherbet, and loosely swirl around the sherbet. Wrap the bowl in cling wrap and place in fridge.
Bring out the dough from the fridge and start rolling in long sweeping motions. Once you think you have a thin layer, roll it twice as much. The thinner the crunchier the shell will be. You want to achieve between 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch thickness.
Preheat 2 1/2 cups of high-heat Canola oil up to 350 degrees.
Bring out a wine glass, and cut out 12 circles (do more just in case you have some extra filling leftover for some extra Canolis)
Wrap the dough circles around the Canoli forms and seal with the help of a little egg wash.
When the oil is hot enough, fry the shells for 2 minutes with a pair of tongs. Remove from oil and place on a cloth towel. With the help of another towel, slide off the fried shells. Repeat for all other shells.
The shells cool of rather quickly. Bring out the filling from the fridge, and scoop some in a piping bag. Fill the shells from both ends, repeating for all shells.
This post is sponsored with ❤️ by Bob's Red MIll