Cannoli Cupcakes

by Caroline
Published: Last Updated on

These tender cannoli cupcakes are infused with traditional cannoli shell flavor, slightly sweet and with a hint of cinnamon. I filled each cupcake with a creamy, addictive ricotta filling, and topped them with more billowy ricotta cream. They are dipped in chocolate, elevating them to another level. 

This was one of those recipes that I dreamed about. I LOVE cannolis, and I love the idea of turning pastries into cupcake form. Finding a cannoli filling and topping recipe was easy. But I knew I wanted the cupcake itself to have the same flavor profile as a traditional cannoli shell. 

When I lived in Boston, going to Mike’s Pastry in the North End was always a bit of a pilgrimage. You don’t go to Mike’s and only buy one pastry. You buy like, at least five. And then you buy some more for your friends. You buy pastries you didn’t even think you’ll need or want because they look so good. 

Normally I’d walk out of Mike’s with a slice of rum cake and an assortment of cream filled pastries. I’d ALWAYS leave with a cannoli. Cannolis are arguably one of the best Italian pastries out there. 

What’s a Traditional Cannoli?

Cannolis are a deep fried pastry shell filled with a creamy ricotta filling, often garnished with chocolate. There are numerous variations, and lots of toppings and fillings to mix and match flavors. 

Marsala wine is often added to the pastry shell, which helps to tenderize the shell, give it flavor, and make it ultra flaky. 

The cannoli filling, made with ricotta and mascarpone cheese, is rich and creamy and sweetened with powdered sugar. 

Why these Cannoli Cupcakes are Special:

  • The cupcake batter is infused with cannoli shell ingredients. These aren’t just vanilla cupcakes with cannoli filling. Nope. They are flavored with cinnamon, a hint of rum, marsala wine, and a dash of cocoa powder for color. 
  • They are filled with a rich, cannoli filling. The filling keeps the cupcakes extra moist and ensures every bite is filled with cannoli taste.  
  • They are topped with velvety, whipped ricotta-mascarpone cream. The “frosting” is less of a frosting and more of a cream. It’s made with the simple cannoli ingredients (no butter). It will seem too soft to pipe, but it piles on super easily! 
  • The cupcakes are dipped in dark chocolate. Yup. Finished with a quick dip in chocolate that hardens into a magic shell. You can coat them in mini chocolate chips if you prefer. 
cannoli cupcakes on tray

Ingredients in Cannoli Cupcakes:

There are quite a few ingredients on the list, but most of them are pantry-staples. I’ll break it down into the cupcake portion and then the filling and topping. 

Full disclosure: I am OBSESSED with the Preppy Kitchen’s cake recipes (or really any of his recipes…). He has a splendid vanilla cupcake recipe that will turn you into a vanilla cake person, I swear. This recipe is based off of his vanilla cupcake, but modified as a cannoli version. 

The topping is based off a recipe I found on, as is the chocolate dip. I modified the filling/topping a bit, adding additional hints of flavor and more powdered sugar. 

Cannoli Cupcake Base Ingredients: 

  • All Purpose Flour – Nothing fancy here
  • Granulated Sugar – Plain white sugar.
  • Baking Soda – Gives a little lift to the cupcakes and helps to neutralize some of the acid from the sour cream and buttermilk. 
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt – If you’re using Morton’s salt, use half.
  • Unsalted Butter – Melted and cooled to room temperature. 
  • Cinnamon – I could put cinnamon in just about anything, but it adds a really nice warm flavor to these cupcakes. 
  • Cocoa Powder – For a bit of color! It also gives a hint of flavor. Dutch processed or natural both work fine here. 
  • Vanilla Extract – The real stuff. 
  • Rum Extract – This is technically optional (if you must…) but I think it gives a nice taste to the recipe and don’t advise leaving it outIt’s also a great ingredient to have on hand!
  • Egg – Two egg whites and one full egg. Use the egg yolks for another recipe or freeze them for later use! Make sure your eggs are at room temperature. 
  • Sour Cream – Full fat sour cream at room temperature. 
  • Buttermilk – I almost NEVER actually buy buttermilk. I make a simple buttermilk using whole milk and vinegar. The recipe is normally one tablespoon of vinegar plus enough milk to reach the cup line. This recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of milk, and so I add about 3/4 teaspoon of vinegar instead (a quarter tablespoon is about 3/4 teaspoon). It’s best to add the vinegar to your measuring cup first, and then fill the milk up to the line. Let it sit for at least five minutes, give it a stir, and there you go – buttermilk!
  • Marsala Cooking Wine – You could use the “real” stuff aka buy a bottle of drinking wine. I buy the cooking wine from the grocery store. 
  • Rumchatta or other Rum Cream (optional)

Filling and Frosting Ingredients:

  • Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese – For the filling/frosting, I don’t strain my ricotta. If you want more of a firm filling you can absolutely strain it. 
  • Mascarpone Cheese – This typically is found near the more speciality cheeses at your grocery store. You’ll use a standard 8 ounce container for the recipe. 
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract 
  • Lemon Zest – Grate a bit of lemon zest for extra kick. It’s so delicious. 
  • Lemon Juice – I add a little extra fresh squeeze lemon juice to bring out the zest even more. 

How to Make Cannoli Cupcakes:

First, Make the Cupcake:

*Make sure all your ingredients are room temp*

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your cupcake tin. I line mine with cupcake papers. 
  2. Sift the dry ingredients. Using a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. Yes, sift the sugar too! It helps ensures everything is totally mixed together and there are no lumps in the flour or cocoa. 
  3. Mix your wet ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together until well combined. It will still be a bit lumpy, but that’s okay!
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Use a wooden spoon and gently mix the wet into dry. Do. Not. Over. Mix. You want it to be just combined until there are no more streaks of flour. If you over-mix the batter, it will result in a dense and chewy cupcake. 
  5. Divide cupcake mixture into your cupcake tin. Fill each cup approximately 2/3 of the way up. Don’t overfill.   
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Check them around 15-16 minutes, depending on your oven. My oven takes about 18-20 minutes to bake these. They should be a bit raised and spring back to the touch. Careful, because they can over-bake quickly! 
  7. Remove from cupcake tin. As soon as you can, pop them out of the cupcake tin using a bent frosting knife or a butter knife and place them on a wire cooling rack. 
  8. Brush with rum cream. While the cupcakes are still warm, using a pastry brush lightly brush each cupcake with Rumchatta or a rum cream of your choosing (Baileys or similar works okay, too!). Do not soak them too much otherwise they will be soggy. Just make sure to coat enough around the edges. Let them cool completely at this point.

Frosting and Filling:

*While your cupcakes are cooling off…*

  1. Mix the filling ingredients! In a large bowl, combine one cup of powdered sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, ricotta cheese, and mascarpone cheese. Blend until fully combine. 
  2. Remove approximately 2/3 cup of the filling and set aside. You’ll need this for the filling. 
  3. Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar to the ricotta mixture. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat until light and fluffy. The mixture will appear too “loose” but that’s okay. This isn’t a regular buttercream or other type of frosting. It should be sturdy enough to pile on top of the cupcake, but not so thick like you’d expect from a typical cupcake frosting. Feel free to add a bit more powdered sugar to your liking. 

Fill & Top the Cupcakes

  • 1. Prep your cupcakes for filling. There are a variety of ways to fill cupcakes. I take a pairing knife, and cut a cone-like hole approximately 3/4 inch wide and 1 inch deep. It’s personal preference how much filling you want to use. Just make sure you don’t cut all the way to the bottom – about halfway down is ideal. I like this method because I can just scoop the filling right into them and smooth them out without using a pastry bag. Plus, you can snack on the cut-out or turn it into a mini parfait! 
cannoli cupcake cored
  • 2. Fill the cupcakes. If you’re using the method I described above, just spoon the filling into the prepared holes and smooth the top. Make sure it’s all the way in there. 
cannoli cupcake filled

  • 3. Frost the cupcakes. Okay, remember it’s not technically frosting. It will seem a little loose. It’s alright. It should be stiff enough to form very soft peaks. Using a pastry bag with the tip cut off, or using a gallon freezer bag with the tip cut off, pipe a healthy portion of the filling on top of each cupcake. I don’t bother with fancy tips, because this is going to get coated anyways. 
cannoli cupcake no chocolate dip

Let them Freeze to Set 

  1. Transfer your cupcakes to the freezer to let the filling/topping to set up before you try to dip them in chocolate. They should freeze for about an hour to a hour and a half. 
  2. About 15 minutes before you are ready to take them out of the freezer, you’ll need to prepare your chocolate dip.

Prepare the Chocolate Dip

  1. In a heat-proof glass bowl, mix 1.5 cups of chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.  
  2. Microwave the chocolate and coconut oil in intervals of 30 seconds, stirring between each cycle. You want to be very careful not to burn the chocolate.
  3. Once the chocolate appears MOSTLY melted, stop microwaving it. With a fork or whisk, stir the chocolate to ensure there are no lumps. The chocolate will continue to melt if there are small lumps. 
  4. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool for a few minutes. 

Dip the Cupcakes

  1. This is actually the easiest and most fun part! Take your cupcakes out of the freezer. Dip the tops of each cupcake into the chocolate mixture. As you get to toward the bottom, you may need to tilt the chocolate bowl a bit. 
  2. Once the cupcakes are dipped, transfer them to the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm up. I often move them to the refrigerator in batches as I work to coat all the cupcakes.
cannoli cupcake in hand

Storing the Cupcakes: 

These cupcakes are best eaten within 3 days. They should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 

When you are ready to serve them, remove them from the refrigerator and allow them to come back to (*mostly*) room temperature for about 30 minutes. You can definitely eat these right out of the refrigerator, but the chocolate shell breaks and gets a bit messy. 

  • Freezer Instructions: These are super easy to freeze. I take a full cupcake (filled/coated), wrap it in plastic wrap tightly twice, and then pop it in the freezer. To defrost, simply remove from the freezer the night before and place in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend microwaving them due to the ricotta. 
  • You could freeze individual unfilled/uncoated cupcakes, and fill/coat at a later time, but that would require melting more chocolate and preparing more filling/topping. It’s up to you!

Substitutions and Ingredients Questions: 

  • My filling/topping seems goopy, is this okay? Goopy is fine. Test a little bit before you fill the piping bag up all the way. If it drips out without you squeezing the bag, add more powdered sugar. If should come out pretty easily, but still require some manipulation of the bag.
  • Can I use cake flour? Yes, cake flour would certainly add a nice texture! I use AP flour because it’s easy to find and always on hand. 
  • What if I don’t want to use Marsala wine? Use a full 1/2 cup of buttermilk. 
  • Can I use real rum in place of rum extract? I don’t necessarily recommend this because the liquid ratio may be affected (I haven’t tested it with real rum). To replace 1 teaspoon of rum extract, you need three tablespoons of real rum – which is almost a quarter cup (to put it in perspective).  
  • What can I substitute for ricotta or mascarpone?  I don’t recommend substituting anything for the ricotta or mascarpone. Both are specialized ingredients that are hard to find an exact substitute. 
  • What’s the purpose of the rum cream soak? It helps to keep the cupcakes extra moist in the refrigerator and also adds a layer of rich flavor that can’t  be beat. 
  • Can I make these gluten free? I haven’t tried this recipe with any sort of gluten free flour. 
  • Why do you use coconut oil with the chocolate? It helps the chocolate to harden a bit faster, thicker, and turns out almost like a magic shell. 

Cannoli Cupcake

A classic Italian dessert in cupcake form! You'll love this spin on the classic cannoli. Decadent cupcakes, filled with sweet ricotta cream, topped with a crispy chocolate shell.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12


  • 12 cup muffin tin


  • 1 ⅔ cup all purpose flour (213 grams)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks or 170 grams), melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine (see notes)

Filling and Frosting

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese,
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, sub 1.5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Optional Soak

  • 2-3 tablespoons Rumchata or any rum cream


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Line your cupcake tins with papers.
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Stir to combine.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, egg whites, egg, vanilla extract, rum extract (if using), buttermilk, sour cream, and marsala wine. The mixture may have a few lumps.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. There should be no streaks of flour, but you do not want to over-mix the batter.
  • Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 the way up. Bake the cupcakes for approximately 18 minutes until they spring back to the touch. Once you remove the cupcakes from the oven, let them rest for a minute or two, and then gently remove them using a butter knife or bent spatula.

Optional Rum Cream Soak

  • While the cupcakes are still hot, gently brush Rumchata or another rum cream on the tops of the cupcakes. Ensure they are evenly coated, but do not over-soak them (this will result in soggy cupcakes!). Allow the cupcakes to cool on the wire rack.

Cannoli Filling and Frosting

  • Allow the cupcakes to cool entirely. with a pairing knife, cut a "cone" in the top of each cupcake at a 45° angle. You can either discard this piece of cupcake, or save it for later (see notes).
  • In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone, ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest, and one cup of powdered sugar until well blended. You can use a hand mixer for this step, but a whisk or fork work just as well.
  • Using a spoon or butter knife, fill each cupcake with the ricotta-mascarpone filling to the top.
  • Add the second cup of powdered sugar to the ricotta-mascarpone mixture and stir to combine well. Using a hand mixer will allow you to whip more air into the frosting. The frosting will not be as stiff as buttercream, that is okay.
  • Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with the tip cut off, or a 1A piping tip. In a swirling motion, pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes.
  • Transfer the cupcakes to the freezer for at least one hour.

Chocolate Coating

  • In a medium, heat-proof bowl, melt the chocolate and coconut oil. To avoid burning the chocolate, stir the mixture every 30-45 seconds until it is nearly melted. Once the mixture is almost entirely homogenous, whisk it until there are no more lumps.
  • Allow the chocolate coating to cool until just barely room temperature. Carefully dip each cupcake into the chocolate mixture. Place the coated cupcakes in the refrigerator.
  • The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature for approximately 30 minutes prior to eating. These cupcakes will last in the refrigerator for approximately 3 days.


Cupcake base recipe adapted from Preppy Kitchen Moist Vanilla Cupcakes
Cupcake filling and topping recipe adapted from Chocolate Dip Cannoli Cupcakes. 
  • Marsala Wine - I use Marsala cooking wine. You can use real Marsala wine if you prefer. 
Keyword Cannoli Cupcake, Cupcakes


  • Can I make the cupcake ahead of time and the filling/topping later? Yes. I often make the cupcakes the night before so they are prepped and cooled. The next morning, I’ll do the filling and frosting. This is a laborious cupcake recipe in some regards, so this helps to break it up. 
  • My filling/topping seems goopy, is this okay? Goopy is fine. Test a little bit before you fill the piping bag up all the way. If it drips out without you squeezing the bag, add more powdered sugar. If should come out pretty easily, but still require some manipulation of the bag. 
  • What’s the purpose of the rum cream soak? It helps to keep the cupcakes super moist, especially as they sit in the refrigerator. It also deepens the flavor profile of the cake. 

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy