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Cannoli Italian Ice

Italian Cannoli Ice – A Homemade Summer Treat

Italian Cannoli Ice – New York Slush

One of my family’s favorite frozen treat, besides the Italian Lemon Ice, is the Italian Cannoli Ice made with ricotta. This is an original recipe that took me a few tries to get the right consistency and taste.

August is the hottest month of the summer!  The oppresive heat forces us to cool off by stay indoors with the air-conditioning cranked up high. We cool ourselves off with an icy cold beverage, or indulge in a sweet frozen treat. Of course, there is always a dip in the pool or a trip to the beach, but not everyone can enjoy these activities everyday.

The Bronx summer’s heat and humidity were unbearable which is still true today. As a kid, I remember evening temperatures of almost 90 degrees during our heat waves. Some things just never change.  I remember lying in bed, with an oscillating fan barely cooling my bedroom, daydreaming about the family summer vacation to the shore. I did not have air-conditioning in my bedroom, therefore a fan had to suffice.  When we finally did get air conditioning, one unit went in my parents’ bedroom and the other in the living room. However, I did camp out in the living room when it was just way too hot to sleep.

An Icy Delicious Treat

On a typical hot and muggy evening, in the hopes of catching a breeze, I would sit on the stoop with my best friend for a few hours after dinner until nightfall. Once the streetlights turned on, it was our cue to head home for the night. Occasionaly we would buy an icy treat from the ice cream truck that came around after dinner around 7:00 pm and then again around 9:00 pm.  Sometimes we would get ice cream and other times an Italian ice.

As my friend and I grew older, we would walk up to the closest neighborhood bakery for their store-made Italian ices.  Sometimes we bought chocolate or cherry ices; other times lily with nuts. Enjoying an Italian ice as we walked back to our stoop helped cool us off before we had to go back up to our hot bedrooms.

Refreshing Treats

There are so many types of treats to enjoy during the summer months. For example, fresh fruits, ice cream, gelato, sorbet, and the classic Sicilian granita known to us in New York City as Italian ice. You can find packaged Italian ices in the freezer section of your local supermarket. Luigis or Marinos are some of the best known store brands, but fresh made Italian ice is a wonderful treat. They are great every now and then especially if you are entertaining guests.  The Italian Ice consists of water, sugar, and flavorings.  Cities across the country call this ice treat by many other names—water ice, snow cone, etc. 

Over the years, we have seen popular ice cream manufacturers introduce new flavors.  There is always something new to try whether it’s a drink, a food, or a treat. New creations of various dishes and desserts are always introduced using a part of one recipe and some of another for a totally new taste. For example, one bakery favorite in my family is the cannoli pastry. The smooth cream, the chocolate chips—Yum!!! Within the past ten to fifteen years, I have seen many new creations using cannoli cream as an ingredient whether it’s cannoli cheesecake, cannoli ice cream, cannoli gelato—you get the point. 

A Homemade Original Italian Ice Recipe

Many years ago, I came across cannoli Italian ice.  How clever!  Putting two favorites together—cannoli and Italian ice. This quickly became my family’s favorite.  To our disappointment the local bakery changed their recipe.  Determined to find a recipe to make at home I searched for a cannoli ice recipe on the internet but couldn’t find one.  Then it hit me—create your own recipe!  That’s exactly what I did. I have shared with you my own version of a cannoli Italian ice which I call Tessa’s New York Slush Italian ice.  I have created a basic recipe with options for a few add-ins as well as some modifications to the recipe for a healthier version. Make it and enjoy it with family and friends.

Don’t forget to try the Lemon Italian Ice recipe, it’s another treat that will keep you cool in the hot weather

Italian Lemon Ice
Italian Lemon Ice
Cannoli Italian Ice


Ingredients for Simple Syrup

3 cups water

1 cup sugar (use 1 cup of raw honey for lighter version)
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*

Ingredients for Cannoli Mixture

1 cup Polly-O ricotta cheese* (Use part-skim or fat-free for lighter version)
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar (use ¼ cup honey for lighter version)
¼ cup heavy cream (use light cream or half and half for lighter version)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup Nestle’s or Hershey’s mini chocolate chips

Optional Add-ins (Add very little or no add-ins for the lighter version)

¼ cup chopped pistachios (shelled)
¼ cup chopped maraschino cherries
½ cup crumbled cannoli shells (check your local supermarket’s bakery section)
1 Tablespoon of fresh orange zest


Simple syrup (15 minutes + at least 30 minutes cool time)

In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar (or honey) until the sugar or honey dissolves.
Once simple syrup sweeteners are dissolved, remove from heat, cover, and let cool for 30 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Stir, cover, and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Stir, cover, and set aside.
Cannoli Cream mixture (10 minutes)

In a mixing bowl, add 1 cup of ricotta and ¼ cup of confectioner’s sugar (or ¼ cup of honey). Mix well.
Add ¼ cup heavy cream (or light cream/ half and half) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir well.
Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to prepare the mixture for freezing.
Preparing the Cannoli Ice Mixture (5 minutes) Freeze time 10 hours or overnight

In a blender or food processer, add cannoli cream mixture and blend for about a minute.
Add cooled simple syrup and blend for another minute. Pour liquid mixture to a metal pan (I use a loaf baking pan that holds approximately 8 cups). Cover with saran wrap or pan cover and freeze.
After 3 hours, stir and scrape any ice from the sides of the pan. Return to the freezer.
In about an hour or so (or when the ice forms, but is still soft), Stir in ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips and mix well. Tip: I use a metal loaf baking pan (not aluminum foil) and a large rubber band to hold the saran wrap tightly onto the pan. You can also use a metal pan that has a plastic cover.
To serve after freezing:

Remove pan from freezer. Using a fork or spoon, scrape the cannoli ice away from the pan until all the ice is loosened. You may need to chop larger ice pieces.
Mix to spread out any mini chocolate chips that may have clumped together. Mix in any add-ins if desired. This scraped ice should resemble snow slush! Scoop out and Enjoy! If you have leftovers, which I doubt, you can refreeze and then follow the serving directions once you are ready to serve the Italian ice again. The Italian ice will keep in the freezer for about a week.

*This recipe uses pure vanilla extract and Polly-O ricotta cheese, and either Nestle’s or Hershey’s mini chocolate chips. Using imitation vanilla extract or another item brand other than the brands I have listed will not produce the same recipe results.

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