Cannoli Poke Cake

You are going to love this cake! A vanilla cake, soaked with sweetened condensed milk, covered in sweet cannoli filling. Ah-mazing!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!
Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

Can you believe I’ve never made a poke cake before? I’ve been wanting to for forever, but never quite got around to it. Until now. And boy have I been missing out! This Cannoli Poke Cake is super easy to make and SO tasty!

If you don’t know much about poke cakes, they are basically a cake that’s baked, covered in sweetened condensed milk which soaks up into the cake, making it incredibly moist, and then usually topped with some kind of whipped topping. There are a ton of variations out there. The sky is the limit!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

A friend requested something “cannoli flavored” for her husband’s birthday a while ago and since I’ve been wanting to make a poke cake for so long, it just popped into my head and I knew I had to do it!

There are so many ways to make cannoli’s – particularly the filling – and when done right, they are absolutely delicious!

The filling really is the best part – and that’s exactly what this cake is covered in. Get pumped!

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

The cannoli filling “icing” on this cake is one of those things that you just cannot get your finger out of. I was lucky any of it made it onto the cake.

And my small group felt exactly the same way! They were basically licking the sides of the pan where the topping was left behind – using their finger of course. So stinkin’ good.

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

One thing I did a little differently with this poke cake is that I didn’t use an entire can of sweetened condensed milk when pouring it over the cake. I didn’t want to the cake to be too soggy, but I wanted it to have the moist-ness and delicious-ness that the sweetened condensed milk gives.

But since it didn’t all go into the cake, and I hate wasting things, I put it into the cannoli filling.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It sweetened the topping up just enough and made it even harder to resist. Pure deliciousness.

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

Have you seen my Baklava Poke Cake? So yummy!

Update 6/10/14: One thing to note about the topping on this cake is that it is not like a traditional icing. It is meant to be more like cannoli filling. The texture is kind of like whipped cream at the soft peak stage. If you’d prefer it to be thicker, you can do one or both of these two things – leave the sweetened condensed milk out of the topping (as it thins it out a bit) and/or add up to about 3 cups of powdered sugar (which would thicken it). I chose to leave it thinner so that I didn’t dilute the cannoli flavor from the cheeses – I love that flavor! And though it’s thinner, it’s still plenty thick to be on top of the cake. I’ve made this cake a couple of times and it has sat out at parties and the icing stays in place. So it isn’t so thin that it runs or anything, it’s just not a traditional icing. I hope that helps, as I know many have been surprised the fact that it isn’t thicker.

Cannoli Poke Cake

Ingredients

1 box white cake mix, plus ingredients on box
1 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon, optional
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

1. Bake cake according to directions on box for a 9x13 pan.
2. Allow cake to cool completely.
3. Poke holes all over the top of the cake. (I used a straw)
4. Reserve half a cup of sweetened condensed milk and pour the rest of the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
5. Put cake in refrigerator for about an hour to absorb milk.
6. Combine ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract in a mixer bowl. Beat until smooth.
7. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using and mix until combined.
8. Add reserved sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.
9. Once cake has absorbed milk, spread cannoli topping evenly over cake.
10. Top with mini chocolate chips and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
11. Cover cake and allow to set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Cake should keep for 4-5 days.
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Enjoy!

signature

Cannoli topping modified from The Vintage Mixer.
These are the parties I link up to.

Cannoli Poke Cake - vanilla cake topped with cannoli filling icing!

You might also like:

Baklava Poke Cake
Baklava Poke Cake - lots of cinnamon, honey and walnuts! So good!

Classic Tiramisu
tiramisu5

Kahlua Ice Cream Pie
Kahlua Ice Cream Pie

Baileys Chocolate Pie
Baileys_Chocolate_Pie8

Other fun cannoli inspired recipes:
Cannoli Stuffed French Toast from Two Peas and Their Pod
Cannoli Cups from Gimme Some Oven
Mini Cannoli Cheesecakes from Will Cook For Smiles


Comments

  1. The cannoli filling is totally the best part! And the only part I actually eat ;-) So your poke cake sounds like chocolate chip cannoli heaven! I’ve never make a poke cake but yours looks absolutely delicious! Is it bad that I don’t know how to pronounce “poke”? I say it like “pokey” is that wrong?
    Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking recently posted…Easy Lemon Strawberry Shortcake {For Two}My Profile

  2. Lucky friend to have this as his birthday cake!I have been meaning to try a poke cake , I just haven’t gotten to it. This one looks so delicious I was sure this would be the recipe I would try. But maybe I will just make the topping and eat it with a spoon! :)
    Wendy recently posted…Soft Chocolate-Toffee CookiesMy Profile

  3. This cake is serious perfection! I need it in my life!
    Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) recently posted…Chewy Vs. Cakey Brownies on The EverygirlMy Profile

  4. Oh this just looks delicious! I’ve seen some interesting cannoli recipes, but I haven’t seen a cake until now! I’ve actually never tried a cannoli, maybe I should start with something similar like this ;)
    Rachel @ Little Ivie Lane recently posted…Telling Our Family!My Profile

  5. OH MY GOD I’m dying for that filling. It would never have made it to the cake ,for sure!
    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust recently posted…Banana Blueberry Baked PancakeMy Profile

  6. This is so perfect right now! I love to bake, but it seems like lately I need an specific reason to make a cake (why does everyone I know need an excuse for cake?!). This is definitely happening for father’s day – my hubby is a huge cannoli addict!
    Risa recently posted…The Best No-Churn Ice Cream Ever!My Profile

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      I agree – I see no need for an occasion for cake! :) This would be great for father’s day though!

  7. Can’t wait to try this! I was just wondering….is it a 1/2 cup of each of the cheeses or 1 and 1/2 cups? Thanks so much for sharing this, this is going to be a Mother’s Day treat for a good friend and myself!!

  8. I love cannoli- this cake is amazing! I love the flavours!
    whatjessicabakednext recently posted…Eton Mess CupcakesMy Profile

  9. Rachael says:

    Thank you for posting this Cannoli Poke Cake recipe! I followed your recipe, and served this cake today, for Mother’s Day! It was a huge hit! This is definitely my favorite cake now, and I will be making it as often as I can!!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Awesome!! I’m so glad it was a hit Rachael! Thanks for the feedback! :)

      • Rachael says:

        I made the cannoli cake again last night for my brother’s birthday. It’s so simple to prepare, and so delicious. I almost always have all the ingredients on hand anyway, which helps a lot! Thanks again!

        • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

          Awesome! I’m so glad you enjoy it! I love it when I have ingredients for my favorite things handy. :)

  10. holy Cannoli! I have to try this!
    Julianne @ Beyond Frosting recently posted…Big Traveling Potluck Recap #btp2My Profile

  11. I’ve only had cannoli cake one time from a the best local Italian bakery in my area. It was fabulous and it had broken cannoli shells on the outside (an idea for your recipe?). I am so happy to have a recipe to make my own. This sounds GREAT! Pinned!

  12. Wow! This looks so delicious! My husband’s whole family loves cannolis, pinning this to remember to make it for them, next time they are in town. You photos are awesome as well!

    Kristy @ 3 Peppers Recipes – Crafts, Cooking & Color
    Kristy O recently posted…Backyard Garden – The beginningsMy Profile

  13. Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes says:

    I have to try this!!! Yum-O!!!

  14. Vicki G says:

    Is it best to bake this the same day you plan on serving ? Or could it be made on Friday and served on Sunday, or even the day before. Can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      The day before might be better than 2 days before, but yes you can definitely do it ahead of time.

      • Donna Coffman says:

        In your recipe, you recommended to make the poke cake 4 to 5 days ahead of time. To Vicky G you said serve the day after making or 2 days before. How long should the cake be stay in the fridge before serving? I don’t want to make a mistake.
        Thanks
        bunkiethelittleitalian

        • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

          I’m sorry if it was confusing in the recipe. The 4-5 days is how long I recommend the cake will keep for. I updated the instructions to be more clear. Once the cake has absorbed the sweetened condensed milk and you add the topping, it should sit in the fridge for a few hours until the topping has firmed a bit and then you can serve it.

  15. MDDaniels says:

    My co-worker made the Cannoli poke cake and It was great. I ate 3 pieces and enjoyed every bite.

  16. Alice Schneider says:

    Hi; Just wondering what size cake mix you used…

  17. Joan C. says:

    Is mascarpone cheese found in the cheese section of the grocery store? I’ve never heard of this before. Can you tell maybe what kind of taste it has? Thanks for the recipie. It looks great!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Its usually in the deli section. The taste is hard to describe. Its much lighter and smoother than a traditional cheese. Not really sweet, but lends itself to sweet well. Its also used in tirsamisu.

  18. I will be making this cake for my Hubby, his Birthday is the July Forth! instead of using choclate bits, I’m going to use White Bit’s.
    He doesn’t care for ALL Chocolate.
    What is “Masponecar ?
    I can “Already taste the cake!”.
    Please Reply.
    Thank You.

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Great! Mascarpone cheese is a very smooth, light cheese that is usually found in the deli and specialty cheese section of the grocery store. This is the one I use (looks like Walmart must have it too).

  19. Hi, I was wondering if you hand mix or mix with a mixer? Just curious.

  20. I made this last night, covered it and then presented it for my husband’s birthday today. The cannoli topping seemed runny after being in the fridge overnight. In your pictures, you must’ve served it right away. It tasted great, but very sweet, even leaving out the powder sugar. I will def make it again but will make slight modifications to lessen the sugar/sweet. Thank you!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      If you left out some powdered sugar, that could be part of the reason that it wasn’t as firm. However, the topping isn’t as thick as a normal icing. You could leave out some of the sweetened condensed milk next time to lessen the sweetness and make it firmer. Glad you liked it! Happy birthday to your husband!

  21. I made this tonight and the cannoli topping is pretty runny. I even used 1 3/4 cups of sugar instead of just one, and it still wasn’t very thick. Is this how it is supposed to be/do you have any tips? I did a taste test and it tastes great, just a bit on the runny side.

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Yes, it is a thinner topping. Not nearly as thick as a traditional icing, more like a thinner whipped cream. If you’d like it to be thicker next time, you could leave the sweetened condensed milk out. You could also add more powdered sugar – up to 3 cups probably.

  22. Lindsay says:

    I’m waiting for the cake to cool so I can frost it..you’re right, there’s no keeping your fingers out of the bowl!! It’s delicious :)

  23. Is there a substitute for the mascarpon cheese? I am going to make this for my Bunko group!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      You could use all ricotta cheese, or try subbing cream cheese. The cream cheese will be a little thicker and sweeter.

  24. Thank you for the nice recipe, Lindsey. Have a Wonderful Sunday!

  25. Please add me to your email list for updates to your site.

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      There is a place in the sidebar to add your email to get emails when I post. It will send you a confirmation email.

  26. Made this cannoli poke cake yesterday for my Father’s Day celebration cookout! It was a huge hit cuz it was beyond delicious ……..needless to say the cake was inhaled!! Thank you so much I followed the recipe exactly

  27. I made this cake today and it was a huge hit! I read the comments about the frosting being runny, so I whipped mine a bit with the whip attachment on the mixer and it really helped. I used probably about 1/2 cup more powdered sugar and beat it for about 2 minutes. It set right up in the refrigerator in just about a held hour. Also, I made a 2 later cake instead of using a square pan and the frosting was perfect for spreading on the cake, not runny at all. I was also conserved about the sweetness with the sweetened condensed milk, so I mixed it with an equal portion of milk and used that to pour on the cake. My only regret is that I didn’t use more (used about 2 cups for 2 layers). Otherwise, this recipe was delicious! I could have probably eaten all of the frosting by itself! Will definitely be making this again.

  28. Lily Smith says:

    I make cannoli filling and it is different than the way you make it. My grandparents came from Italy and I make it the way they taught me. I really want to make this cake but I think I will use the filling I make and also try it your way. Will let you know how it turns out.

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Yes, this filling is a little different, as I added sweetened condensed milk to it. If you have a filling you prefer, I’m sure it’d be delicious!

    • foodlover says:

      I’ve been looking up different cannoli filling recipes since my was SOOOO runny…kinda disappointed…will make again, but perhaps straining the ricotta cheese would help…taste was delicious!!

  29. Whoa, this cake looks crazy good, Lindsay! Pinned. Hope you have a great 4th!
    Julie @ This Gal Cooks recently posted…Stitch Fix June 2014 Review + Shopping LoveMy Profile

  30. This cake sounds great, love poke cakes. My family is coming on the weekend , celebrating my sister’s birthday, so thought this would be good Birthday Cake.

  31. it looks delicious!
    dina recently posted…Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook WinnerMy Profile

  32. This cake was delicious, but the topping was much too runny, even after sitting in the fridge. I followed the recipe exactly, and then added extra powdered sugar when I saw how soupy the topping was, but I think in the future I would either strain the ricotta first or else greatly decrease the proportion of ricotta to mascarpone. Maybe I just used a particularly runny brand of ricotta, but that was definitely what made the topping too thin.
    It was a bit of a sloppy mess, but it tasted great!

  33. I’m wondering, how thick would the filling have to be to make this into a layer cake and not be too easily oozed out of the layers? This would make an amazing birthday cake for my man!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      I love the idea of making this a layered cake, but the filling is pretty thin. I’d be tough to get it thick enough. I think the flavor would be lost by the time enough powdered sugar was added. I’m sorry.

  34. Can I make this at like 10am and not serve til 9pm at night??? Can it sit the fridge that long? Should I wait to put on the chocolate chips? Do you bring to room temperature before you serve it?

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Yes, it’ll be fine in the fridge for that long. You don’t need to wait before adding the chocolate chips and you don’t need to bring it to room temperature. In fact, I recommend serving it cold. Enjoy!

  35. Madison says:

    Hey there! My dad is turning 40 in a week and were throwing him a surprise party tomorrow! His favorite dessert is cannoli and when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew it’d be perfect! I looked at every food store in my area and couldn’t find mascarpone, so I was going to sub ricotta. Would I substitute using a 1:1 ratio? Would I add any additional ingredients in? Thank you so much and I can’t wait to enjoy this recipe!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      What a bummer you can’t find the mascarpone. Did you check the deli part of the store? It’s not normally with the cheddars and shredded cheese, but with the fancy cheeses in the deli. You can definitely sub ricotta though. It’d be a 1:1 ratio. And since ricotta has more liquid in it, you might consider draining the ricotta first. The other option would be cream cheese, if you want something a little sweeter. Enjoy it!

  36. Cheri Wilkinson says:

    I wanted to let you know that this recipe was the most awesome cake I have ever made !! I also tried it over a dark chocolate cake which was absolutely heavenly !!! Kuddos to you for sharing this recipe !!!

  37. Tannette B says:

    Made this tonight (according to reipe). Yes, the cannoli filling was runny even though the ricotta was not wet enough to drain. It did not stay on top of the cake but ran to and over the sides. It tastes delicious and was definitely hard to keep from eating out of the bowl. I’m hoping it will harden in the fridge because it does not look like yours. Did you whip the filling with an electric mixer or by hand? Runny or not, I will try it again!

  38. I made the cake today and for the frosting I omitted the extra condensed milk and used 1.5 cups of powdered sugar. I think it taste amazing and looks pretty sturdy. I am bringing this for a potluck along with the no-bake Oreo cheesecake. I love this site!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      I’m so glad you are happy with it Sarah! I’m glad you are enjoying the site too – thanks!! :)

  39. Miranda Chandler says:

    Made this tonight and the filling is wonderful! I substituted the mascarpone cheese with 1 package of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, and 2 tablespoons of softened butter – just whipped them together in my mixer and it turned out awesome!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      I’m so glad you were able to make substitutions that worked for you! Thanks Miranda! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  40. When I make a layered cannoli cake, I use whipped cream to frost the sides. Is there any way to use whipped cream into the recipe?

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      Maybe you could add some whipped cream around the edges of the cake? Or a scoop when you serve the pieces of cake?

  41. I made this cake into two 8×8 cakes and brought them to two different occasions. They were both met with rave reviews! The cannoli topping is so good!!! I used slightly less than the recommended cinnamon and about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. I am baking some white cupcakes right now to attempt to transform this recipe into cupcakes… Here goes nothing!

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      I’m so glad you like the cake Charlene! Did the cupcakes work out?

      • First crack at cupcakes did not work out… I used a different ricotta that must have been more moist because I could not get the filling to thicken… Next time I will try straining the ricotta. Also, I will alter the white cake batter – adding the sweetened condensed milk wasn’t working and a plain white cupcake was missing something… This is definitely a work in progress and I will be trying again! This cannoli frosting is too good to not be inside a delicious, moist white cupcake!

  42. Love the recipe. Am making today for my stepdaughters birthday. Cannoli cake is her face and we all love homemade. Am going to try to thicken up icing with various tips on your comments section. So so excited

  43. funsize wife says:

    This is a lot easier to make than it looks. I made it for friends that lived in the Chicago area and they were pretty impressed. Just don’t try the frosting until the cake is covered or it will never get to the cake. Using the cinnamon gave the taste a little more complex and I recommend adding it in. Thanks for such a great recipe, because cannoli are a real pain to fill!

  44. funsize wife says:

    It is so good my friends had it for breakfast the next day!

  45. Made this for dinner tonight – absolutely delicious!!! Thinking about adding a little bit of Amaretto to the topping next time – YUM!

  46. My topping wasn’t runny at all. It was thick and fluffy. Is that okay?

  47. I made this today and my icing came out thick. I strained the ricotta as you are supposed to do with cannoli filling. The consistency of the icing was great however, overall I didn’t think the cake itself was great. It wasn’t very sweet and very bland, not much flavor at all. Everyone who tried it thought the same. :(

  48. This is on my menu for Christmas. Can someone tell me do I have to strain the Ricotta? Lindsay do you? Thanks.

    • lifeloveandsugar@gmail.com says:

      I don’t strain it, but I know some have and prefer to. I think it’s a question of just how thick you want your icing. I don’t think you can go wrong either way, but if it’s a particularly wet ricotta, straining it might be good to be safe.

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