Cannoli Layer Cake

This Cannoli Layer Cake is a light, moist cinnamon cake filled with mascarpone & ricotta filling, then frosted with mascarpone frosting! Covered in mini chocolate chips, this treat has all the best parts of a cannoli in one delicious cake!

Cannoli Layer Cake

Cannoli Layer Cake recipe

Cannoli Layer Cake

So all of a sudden over the past week, I’ve had this crazy feeling like I just want to rid our house of all the stuff we don’t use. It’s like a spring cleaning bug hit me late. I’m actually a pretty big pack rat, so this has basically never happened to me before. It’s a strange feeling. I know my mom is probably reading this and dying to jump in the car as soon as possible to come help me get rid of things before I change my mind. 🙂

I’ve got several piles of clothing that haven’t been worn in years and the same for shoes. I’m even going through the kitchen cabinets. These days I have so much baking equipment that I’m running out of space. Things are piling up and it’s like towers of pans fall over every time I need to get one thing out. It’s time to remove the things I don’t use to make space for all the things I do. I’m pretty pumped to get everything out of the house and donate it to someone who can use it.

Italian Cannoli Layer Cake
Best Italian Cannoli Cake

Of course all the baking things that now fill my cabinets are totally worth having because I get to make fun cakes like this one. 🙂

And this cake is so darn delicious. Cannoli as a flavor for cakes and such always surprises me. It seems like a flavor that’s so light and primarily composed of a little cinnamon and a couple kinds of cheese would be fairly boring – and yet every cannoli dessert I make I totally fall in love with. They are anything but boring. Mascarpone cheese has easily become one of my favorite things to use in desserts. The flavor is incredibly light, but so darn good and just sweet enough.

The one thing you have to be careful of when using mascarpone cheese is that you don’t want to over mix it or mix it at a high speed. The lowest speed you have is best. It easily gets watery if you aren’t careful.

Because the filling and frosting for this cake are made with ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the process of building the cake. You’ll want to have the cheeses at room temperature when you mix them so that they incorporate easily without being lumpy, but you’ll want to leave time to set them in the fridge to firm back up before layering and frosting the cake. There’s a bit of waiting involved at a couple points to make sure things are firm, since the cheeses aren’t naturally firm at room temperature. If you use a ricotta cheese that’s fairly watery, you may want to strain it before using. If you would prefer not to use ricotta, you could also replace it with additional mascarpone cheese.

Homemade Cannoli Layer Cake
Cannoli Layer Cake with mascarpone frosting

How to Complete Your Cannoli Cake

As far as flow goes with putting the cake together, I made the filling first and let it firm up while the cakes cooled after baking. Once things are ready you want to be fairly quick about building the cake and adding the filling layers, since the filling can soften again if it sits out for too long. Once it’s all layered, I used any remaining filling to add a crumb coat, then refrigerated the cake until the filling was nice and firm, about 2-3 hours.

Once firm, you’ll use the frosting to cover the cake. Again, you’ll want to work relatively quickly so things don’t soften too much. While I usually use a fair number of steps to make a nice, smooth cake, I just used my offset spatula to frost this one. The mascarpone frosting is quite sticky, so it’d be much harder to use my usual paper towel and such to smooth it. Plus, since the chocolate chips are added to the sides, there’s really no need to get it perfect.

To finish of the cake, press mini chocolate chips into the sides and add a little border. I also sprinkled on a little cinnamon, but that’s totally optional.

This cake really is exceptional. It takes a little time and finesse to work with the soft filling and frosting, but it’s totally worth it. You won’t want to share a single crumb with anyone. 🙂

Best Homemade Italian Cannoli Cake
Favorite Cannoli Layer Cake

You might also like:

Cannoli Cheesecake
Cannoli Poke Cake
Cannoli Icebox Cake
Cannoli Tart
Tiramisu Cupcakes
Cannoli Cheeseball

Print
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Picture of Cannoli Layer Cake with slice removed
Recipe

Cannoli Layer Cake

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 21 minutes
  • Total Time: 36 minutes
  • Yield: 14-16 Servings
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Cannoli Layer Cake is a light, moist cinnamon cake filled with mascarpone & ricotta filling, then frosted with mascarpone frosting! Covered in mini chocolate chips, this treat has all the best parts of a cannoli in one delicious cake!


Ingredients

CINNAMON CAKE LAYERS

  • 3/4 cup (168g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (173g) sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp (15g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water

FILLING

  • 1 1/4 cups (315g/12 oz) ricotta cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (283g/10 oz) mascarpone cheese, room temperature*
  • 1 1/4 cup (144g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

FROSTING

  • 2 1/2 cups (565g/20 oz) mascarpone cheese, room temperature*
  • 2 1/2 cups (288g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

12 oz bag mini chocolate chips


Instructions

1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) .
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
3. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
4. Add egg whites in two batches, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the milk and water in a small measuring cup.
6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for about 21-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
8. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 3-5 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
9. While the cakes cool, make the filling. To make the filling, add all the ingredients to a mixer bowl and mix on low speed until well combined. Do not overmix or mix on a high speed or the mascarpone cheese will become thin and watery. If you are using a ricotta cheese that is watery, you may want to strain it first.
10. Place the filling in the fridge to firm up a bit, about 2-3 hours.
11. When the cakes are cool and the filling is ready, build the cake. First, remove the domes from the tops of the cake layers with a large serrated knife.
12. Place the first layer of cake on a cake circle or serving stand, then spread about 1 1/2 cups of filling on top. It should have firmed up in the fridge, but might still be a bit soft, so work relatively quickly.
13. Repeat with the next layer of cake and filling, then top the cake with the final layer of cake.
14. Use any remaining filling to quickly add a crumb coat to the cake, then place the cake in the fridge to firm up, 2-3 hours. If you have a large cake carrier to store it in, that’s best.
15. While the cake firms up, make the frosting. To make the frosting, add all the ingredients to a mixer bowl and mix on low speed until well combined. Do not overmix or mix on a high speed or the mascarpone cheese will become thin and watery.
16. Place the frosting in the fridge to firm up a bit, about 2-3 hours.
17. When the cake and frosting are ready, frost the outside of the cake. I used my offset spatula to get a nice, even layer. Keep aside about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of frosting for the border.
18. Press the mini chocolate chips onto the sides of the cake.
19. Pipe a border around the top edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 844, but Wilton 2D or 1M would work as well.
20. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.

* Room temperature is relative, as some people’s homes are warmer than others. Mascarpone cheese is quite sensitive to heat. You want it to still be a bit chilled, but not too cold or firm. I often take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before I need it to take some of the chill off of it, but still have it cool. Mascarpone cheese, if it gets too warm, will get too soft and doesn’t do well at firming back up.


Keywords: cannoli cake, cannoli cake recipe, layer cake, layer cake recipe, cinnamon cake recipe, cinnamon cake, cinnamon cake roll, best cake recipe, moist cake recipe

Enjoy!

Cannoli Layer Cake - moist and fluffy layers of cinnamon cake with mascarpone and ricotta filling and a mascarpone frosting! To die for!

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Recipe rating

90 Comments
  1. Tracy Noonan

    Hello,
    I am an a b id home baker however I have never made a cake (or any dessert) with Ricotta yet. I’ve used in savory recipes and am wondering if there is a different or special kind of Ricotta for desserts.

    I can’t figure out how the texture of Ricotta will be in a dessert.

    Is there a certain type or brand you can recommend?

    Thank you and also thank you for all of your recipes.

    1. Lindsay

      I typically use Galbani. You don’t want it to be too watery, so if it seems like it is, you can drain it.

    1. Lindsay

      I don’t typically freeze full cakes and it wouldn’t really be what I’d recommend. That said, it might be ok. It’s just hard to know what will happen with all the moisture when it thaws. It might not “keep” very well.

  2. Amy

    we love this cake, and I am looking for the perfect cannoli cupcake. Do you think this can be made into a cupcake and filled with the filling?

    1. Lindsay

      If you use 9 inch pans, the layers will be thinner so you will want to bake them for less time. I haven’t tried that size pan so I’m not sure exactly what the time will be.

    1. Lindsay

      If you’re just making one layer, you shouldn’t need to double it. If you want a second layer then you would want to double it. I have a never tried doubling it so I can’t say for sure how well that works, but I would think it’d be OK if your mixer is large enough.

  3. Zoe Burger

    Delish! Everyone liked the cake at our holiday party and it was a looker on the table too! I especially liked the chocolate chips and might put some in the filling next time. Thanks for another great recipe.

  4. Kim

    I’m thinking of replacing the icing recipe above with your icing recipe you use for the Berry Mascarpone cake (which is one of my favorite icing recipes to make) Do you think it would work well with this cake and filling? Hoping to make this for the holidays

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, I think it’d work well. The one listed for the cake will have a stronger mascarpone flavor to it, but the other one should be nice too.

  5. Caron

    I’m so sad every time I look at one of your recipes and it doesn’t have a video 🙁 I know you have your hands full though! I absolutely adore your recipes, they’re incredible!

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, most of my older recipes don’t have videos, sadly. Maybe one day I’ll be able to go back to them all. I’m so glad you enjoy the recipes!

  6. Kasey

    I made this as a cake and LOVED it! Such a good recipe. Could this be turned into cupcakes? Or do you not think this recipe would bake well this way?

      1. Linda Starken

        Love love love this cake The last time I made it I frosted it with the given frosting g and refrigerated it for 3 hours I then made a chocolate ganache and poured it on top to run over the sides Refrigerated again and the did a frosting boarder around the bottom of cake ….garnished with mini chips and a center rosette on top of cake With a few chips Looked like a cake from a bakery It was delish!!! 

  7. Sarah Bugli

    Lindsay,
    I made this cake today and I plan on making it again for my sons birthday party next weekend.  I have a question about the frosting.  I left my mascarpone cheese out to get to room temperature and I mixed it slowly with the powdered sugar and vanilla extract but it didn’t seem to come together smoothly.  I was afraid to overmix as it said in your instructions.  Do you know about how long you mixed it for?  After refrigerating, when I went to frost the cake it was kind of just dropping off.  Any tips would be great.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m sorry you had that experience. I’ve added a note to the recipe about the mascarpone cheese. It’s pretty sensitive to heat and if it gets too warm, it’ll get too soft and it doesn’t really firm back up well. So like, you don’t want it sitting on the counter for too long before using, especially if you keep your home a little warmer. You want to cheese to still have a bit of a chill on it. If you didn’t over mix it, it sounds like it could have been a temperature issue. I’m sorry!

  8. Alex

    This is the most amazing dessert I’ve ever made! It was a huge hit at Easter with my in-laws. Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

  9. Michelle McCorkle

    Hi Lindsay,
    I hope you’re feeling well and looking forward to the holidays. I’m so thrilled for you and your husband????
    Have you ever added rum to this cake? My twins want a cannoli cake for their birthday (and so do I!!), but I’m just wondering if a little rum would work with this recipe, Brooklyn style ????

    1. Lindsay

      Thanks Michelle! I haven’t done it, but it sounds delicious. You could replace some or all of the water in the cake with the rum. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Devon

    I have not worked with ricotta in baking before so not sure how to tell if it is considered watery.  Is it best to just be safe and strain overnight?

    1. Lindsay

      Often ones that are watery have actual water pooling in the container when you open them. Definitely the best way to be safe would be to strain it, if you’re unsure.

  11. Aimee

    I just did my very first wedding cake for my niece’s wedding. Someone who was at the reception asked me if I would do one for her daughter in law’s baby shower. She wants a three tiered cake. Her favorite is a cannoli cake. Do you think this cake could stand up if properly supported with dowels?

    1. Lindsay

      The cake layers themselves would be ok, but the mascarpone frosting might not do so well sitting out for a while at a wedding. If you are planning on keeping it refrigerated until serving, it might be ok. But I’d try it out and see what you think first.

  12. Sara

    I made this cake for my family this past Easter Sunday!  What a HUGE hit!  Moist, so tasty and not too sweet.  Perfection! Keep these recipes coming…everyone I’ve recreated has been incredible. 

  13. Cecelia Dowdy

    Oh wow! That looks so amazingly delicious! I doubt I’d make it because I’m not very good with waiting for things to firm up – I’m also not the best froster (if that’s a word). It’d be watery before I finished frosting, but, I’d love to sample a slice! Send some over to my house! 🙂

    1. Dina

      Hello! Am I able to make the cake, filling and frosting the night before and assemble the next day? Do the cake layers have to be refrigerated or could I leave them out and wrapped individually? TIA!!

      1. Lindsay

        It’s been quite a while since I made this one, but I believe that’d be fine. The cake layers can be at room temperature.

    1. Juliana Bablanian

      Hi Lindsay. I saw your reply about making this recipe into cupcakes…but how should I do the filling / frosting? Could I mix them together? 

  14. barbara

    made your cake for our family’s July August birthday get together. It was a total success.

    Thank you for sharing.

  15. Linda

    I’m crazy for cannoli so any one of these recipes would be heaven.  Thanks so much for new ways to get the taste.

    1. Elle

      Been searching for a cannoli cream cake to make for the hubby’s birthday. Excited to try this. Thanks!

      How would I adjust baking time if I were to use two 9-inch pans instead of three 8-inch ones?

      1. Lindsay

        It might be somewhat similar since you’ll have two layers, but larger ones. I’d check it a few minutes before the recommended time and adjust from there.

  16. Donika@whenfetametolive

    My family would love this! We all love cannoli, I never thought of a cannoli cake! It is so beautiful too!

  17. Barbara

    Do you have a trick to putting the chocolate chips on the sides of the cake (or sprinkles, or graham cracker crumbs?)
    Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      I wouldn’t say that I have a trick. I cup some in my hand (mostly in my fingers), start at the bottom and press them into the sides.

    2. Miranda

      I like to keep the item I’m sticking on the cake in a large, flat pan or bowl underneath my turntable and press it on the sides where the extras the fall off can go right back in the bowl for a chance to make it onto the cake.

  18. Annette

    My husband and I have been talking about downsizing lately. It’s a few years away but I dread the day I have to pack my kitchen – way too many pans but I can’t seem to get rid of any of them! This cake is stunning and delicious I’m sure. I didn’t have much luck with your Cannoli Poke Cake (probably beat the cheese too much). It was delicious but the icing was a little runny and it was definitely not as pretty as yours. Love your recipes, photography, blog and I’m really looking forward to your cookbook!

  19. Mir

    I have that bug a lot, but my husband likes to keep things. So we have to be in a constant tug of war about what to hold onto and what to toss. I throw things away behind his back. 🙂
    This cake is incredible. Of course. The gorgeous level here is so high. And the flavor…wow.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12