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Caffé Strega Boston / Caffe Strega News  / How Did the Cannoli Originate?

How Did the Cannoli Originate?

Cannoli is an extremely popular dessert and party food that originated in Sicily. The singular, Cannolo, literally translates to “little tube.” Cannoli consist of small, narrow tubes of fried dough filled with sweetened cream cheese. Although they first became popular in Italy, they are now sold in bakeries and grocery stores around the world. In this guide, you will learn more about how this seemingly unassuming dessert became as commonplace as it is today. 


Where was cannoli actually invented?

Cannoli was first created in Palermo, Sicily, but, somewhat surprisingly, has Arabic origins. The sweet filling is thought to have been brought to Sicily by an ancient Arabic tribe called the Saracens. Prior to that, sugar cane wasn’t used in Sicilian cooking. 


Originally, cannoli was created for Carnivale, a celebration similar to modern-day Mardi Gras that took place before Lent. The partygoers enjoyed this sweet concoction and, ultimately, it came to represent fertility during the annual Carnivale celebration. 


When did cannoli come to the United States?


Cannoli first started showing up in the United States around 1900. Italian immigrants were moving to America in droves and settling in communities like Manhattan’s Little Italy. They began serving favorites like cannoli not only in their own homes, but in the restaurants and bakeries they operated. This is how the dessert became a staple in Italian-American cuisine as well. Today, many establishments serve cannoli and the dessert has even become a popular offering at weddings, baby showers, and bridal luncheons or brunches. 


Are there different types of cannoli? 


Turn-of-the-century cooks had to make certain concessions in regard to their cannoli recipes because some ingredients simply weren’t available in the United States. Nowadays, cannoli has retained its original base of fried dough and sweetened cream cheese but comes in numerous varieties. 


You are, for instance, likely to see cannoli that feature orange zest, pistachio bits, chopped almonds, and chocolate chips. Seasonings, such as cinnamon, vanilla bean, and honey, are also common. If you decide to make cannoli on your own, you are mainly limited by your imagination. 


If you want to give authentic cannoli a try, stop by Caffe Strega. We take pride in using genuine recipes from Italy, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the real deal every time you order cannoli from us! 

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