Cannoli Poke Cake

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This Cannoli Poke Cake is a lovely vanilla cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and covered in sweet cannoli filling. It’s a moist, indulgent dessert that will rock your socks off!

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

Cannoli Poke Cake

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? Or my Cannoli Icebox 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.

You might also like

Cannoli Layer Cake
Cannoli Cheesecake
Cannoli Tart
Cannoli Icebox Cake
Baklava Poke Cake
Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

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A slice of Cannoli Poke Cake on a white plate

Cannoli Poke Cake

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: Box Directions
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 15-18 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


This Cannoli Poke Cake is a lovely vanilla cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and covered in sweet cannoli filling. It’s a moist, indulgent dessert that will rock your socks off!



  • 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


1. Bake cake according to directions on box for a 9×13 pan.
2. Remove cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top of the cake. (I used a straw)
3. Reserve half a cup of sweetened condensed milk and pour the rest of the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.
4. Put cake in refrigerator for about an hour to absorb milk.
5. Combine ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract in a mixer bowl. Mix until smooth.
6. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using and mix until combined.
7. Add reserved sweetened condensed milk and mix until combined.
8. Once cake has absorbed milk, spread cannoli topping evenly over cake.
9. Top with mini chocolate chips and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
10. Cover cake and allow to set in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Cake should keep for 4-5 days.


Do consider straining the ricotta before using, especially if it’s a particularly watery brand. Also, when mixing together the ricotta and mascarpone cheese, DO NOT over mix it. If mascarpone cheese is over mixed, it becomes very thin.

Keywords: cannoli cake, cannoli cake recipe, poke cake, poke cake recipe, cannoli recipe, cannoli cream recipe, italian christmas cake, italian dessert recipe, moist vanilla cake recipe, moist cake recipe


Cannoli topping modified from The Vintage Mixer.

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

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Recipe rating

  1. Val

    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!!

  2. Risa

    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!


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

  3. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust

    OH MY GOD I’m dying for that filling. It would never have made it to the cake ,for sure!

  4. Rachel @ Little Ivie Lane

    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 😉

  5. Wendy

    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! 🙂

  6. Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking

    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?

      1. Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking

        Really?! That seems like a shame. But I guess it makes sense because you poke holes in it before pouring on the tres leches part.

    1. Rich

      Thanks for this recipe. Just made it for my wifes birthday tomorrow. was worried about the frosting being to runny but all the reviews were very helpful. I used 1 3/4 cup of conf. sugar and only 3 tbl spoons of the milk and it looks just like the picture and hopefully will taste as good as it looks

    2. RO

      Hi there….was reading all the comments about the frosting being runny, would it be at all possible to add some gelatin to help set it up and if so how much. Just curious?


        I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure. I think there’s a lot of variation in the water in ricotta – if you’re sure to strain it, the icing should be fine without gelatin.

      2. angela

        I just made this cake last night and it wasn’t runny at all. I used a high quality ricotta from the deli section though, not the cheese section of the grocery store. There was almost no water at all. I don’t know if that is what made the difference. The “frosting” came out nice and fluffy, I swear there is a good inch + of the cannoli filling on top of the 9×13 🙂 On a side note, I literally could have just taken my kitchenaid bowl off the mixer, gotten a spoon and could have eaten all that delicious frosting/ filling! yummmmm

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!

Scripture I’m Loving

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