Yes, it's the day after Thanksgiving, but I'm not going to blog about turkeys or cranberry sauce because, to be perfectly honest, I didn't cook any! My sole contribution to my family's meal was stirring the gravy while it was cooking, and then helping eat all the wonderful food my grandma had made.

    What I am going to blog about is the Daring Bakers Challenge for this month. This was my first challenge, so I was pretty excited about it. Until I made this recipe, I had never cooked or eaten a cannoli before. I wasn't even sure what a cannoli was!

    Since I don't have cannoli forms and I didn't want to use as much oil as I would need for deep-frying, I made flat squares of dough and fried them, dusted them with cinnamon and sugar, then stacked them to make cannoli napoleons.

    I also baked some of the dough in muffin cups to make cannoli cups, which I then filled with cream cheese and sauteed mushrooms:

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Cannoli shells:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil for frying
cinnamon and sugar to dust the fried cannoli squares

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the vegetable oil, vinegar, and pomegranate juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingrendients. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes, then form it into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill it in the fridge at least 2 hours or overnight. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a thickness of 1/16-1/8 inch. Cut it into squares about 2x2 inches. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet until a small piece of dough sizzles on contact. Fry the squares, turning once, until both sides are blistered and golden. You will have to do this in several batches. Put a mixture of cinnamon and sugar on a plate, and when you remove the squares from the oil, dip them in this mixture to coat them on both sides.

To make cannoli napoleons: For each napoleon, use three squares. Make whipped cream or use storebought. Use one square as the base, put a dollop of whipped cream on it, and a few thin slices of apple or some berries. Place another square on top, put more whipped cream and fruit on it, and top with the last square. Garnish with a little whipped cream and a slice of apple or a berry.

To make cannoli cups: put squares of raw cannoli dough in a muffin tin and bake them for 10 minutes at 400 degrees F, until they are beginning to brown (mine are burnt because I baked them at 500 degrees). Remove from oven and allow the cannoli cups to cool. Put a teaspoon of cream cheese in each, then sautee chopped mushrooms and walnuts in olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to put on top.