We’re back for the fall semester, and our culinary classes are moving right along.

One of the unique classes we offer each year results in some great recipes, great food for the public and great learning for our students.

The class, International Cuisine, results in a dish from a different country being featured every Thursday at our Racine Kitchen location until Dec. 13 (except for Nov. 22). The third-semester students in this course must come up with a meal from the specific country featured that week. This means students learn how to cook a variety of dishes and face the ultimate test: having it served to the public from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for $6 a meal. It’s been a successful course.

The first Thursday featured India, and the second Thursday will feature Italy.

For this column, I’m going to focus on an Italian dessert, which will be featured as part of the meal (also one of my favorites): Cannoli.

Cannoli is a small, tube-shaped dessert, which could be served at any meal. It’s featured for Italian food, of course, such as lasagna or veal scaloppini, but it will go great with others, too!

To begin with, here are five things to keep in mind when you are making cannoli:

You want a crisp shell.

You want to produce a creamy filling.

Don’t fill the cannoli shells until just before you serve them. The moisture from the filling will make the shells soggy.

You cannot bake the shell. The dough doesn’t work well baked — it has to be fried.

Once you deep fry the dough, lay the shells on paper towels to dry and get the oil off them. Once they are cool, you can store them in a plastic food container for up to a month.

While the shells are great, I also like to roll the dough out into a strip and cut triangles out of it. Then you deep fry them. Put the filling in a bowl in the middle of your table and put the chips on the outside on a plate to make it a dip. This way, it can be done ahead of time and your shells can be kept separate from the filling. When company comes over, you put all the filling into the middle of your serving tray in a bowl, put the chips on the outside and then sprinkle them with powdered sugar. You are set with a fast, easy dessert.

Enjoy!

CANNOLI SHELLS

6 ounces bread flour

6 ounces pastry flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1 egg

8 ounces Marsala wine

Sift both flours, sugar and salt into a bowl.

Add butter and work in with your hands until evenly blended.

Using the hook attachment on your mixer, add the egg and wine and work in to make a dough. If you don’t have a mixer, mix it by hand. Knead it a few times on a floured workbench until smooth. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry into a sheet about 1/8-inch thick. Use a pastry docker, if you have one. If you don’t have a docker, use a fork to prick holes in the pastry.

For small cannoli, cut into 3.5-inch circles.

For large cannoli, cut into 5-inch circles.

RICOTTA CANNOLI FILLING

8 ounces ricotta

8 ounces confectioner’s sugar

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon extract

3 tablespoons candied citron, candied citrus peel or finely diced pumpkin

2 tablespoons sweet chocolate, finely chopped or tiny chocolate bits

Process the ricotta in a blender until smooth.

Sift sugar and fold in until well mixed.

Mix in remaining ingredients.

To make cannoli:

Put filling into a pastry bag with a pastry tube — or a heavy Ziploc bag with the corner cut out of it — and fill cannoli shells nearly full. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve.

Susanna Elrod is a culinary instructor at Gateway Technical College.

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