Cannoli Poke Cake

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

Print
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A slice of Cannoli Poke Cake on a white plate
Recipe

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

Description

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!


Scale

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 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.

Notes

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

Enjoy!

Cannoli topping modified from The Vintage Mixer.

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

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Recipe rating

236 Comments
  1. Pam Wood

    I made this cake and had to add a little extra powdered sugar to the topping because it did come out a little wetter than I thought it would. Then I didn’t dust the chips, and it was delicious. I will definitely make again.

  2. Melissa

    The cannoli “icing” is so amazing that I made enough to have leftover and will add some chocolate chips and use it as a dip and some cannoli chips!

  3. MICHELLE FOREST

    Can I make this cake without the cheeses cuz I have digestive issues but still want 2 Make this cake with all ingredients except the 2 Cheeses is it possible & Will it still be close in taste?Pleases let me know if it’s possible 2 Do without the 2 Cheeses.

    1. Lindsay

      The cheeses are what give it that cannoli flavor. You can leave them out, but then you basically have a vanilla cake with a little bit of cinnamon and chocolate chips.

  4. Sherry

    Will the icing thicken up in the fridge after icing the cake?  My icing cave out a bit runny so I’m hoping it will thicken up after sitting in the fridge. 

    1. Lindsay

      It may thicken a little bit. Be careful not to over mix the topping, since mascarpone cheese can get watery if over mixed. Did you drain your ricotta well, too?

  5. Courtney

    I’ve made this cake every year since 2016 to accompany my New Years Eve feast, and I’ve never had a mishap.. and I’m prone to kitchen mishaps, especially on holidays. I’ve never needed to do any special straining of the ricotta, and I just use the regular ricotta in the dairy aisle. I just pour the little bit of liquid at the top into the sink before I dump it in the bowl. My grocery store just has one little tub of marscapone cheese in the special cheese section by the deli and I don’t know if it even corresponds with the amount listed in the recipe, but I’ve always used it and it’s been perfect. Some years I’ve remembered to bake the cake and let sit overnight with the sweetened condensed milk, sometimes I forgot and just had it in the fridge for an hour or so. I was fine both ways. I always have extra cannoli frosting left over and I put it on the plate with the cake slices I serve.. and we have a little cake with our delicious frosting. People asking about the mixer needed.. before getting a kitchenaid stand mixer for my wedding, I just used my hand mixer. Now i use my kitchenaid just to have the excuse to use it. Either way works. I love this recipe. Perfect every time.

  6. Andrea

    I just made this and it turned out perfect. Not too thin at all but i only added like a quarter cup of the condensed sweetened milk only because i dont have a huge sweet tooth. The taste is spot on. Im positive its going to be a big hit. Im wondering if people that have a issue with it being watery are not whipping it enough. Its watery at first, but thickens up as you blend it. Thank you for the recipe.

  7. Michael 🐁

    Hello,

    Mascarpone cheese is not readily available where I live, Blue Mountains NSW Australia, can I substitute cream cheese? Would it need adjusting to be similar to Mascarpone?

    Kind Regards,
    Michael

  8. Grace

    This was SUPER amazing as is with ALL your recipies.  For entertaining purposes, I’m assuming I can also make a Poke cake in a large Springfiorm pan? In case the sides get sloppy I can just cover with extra icing. Thoughts.?

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t ever tried a poke cake in a springform pan. If you’re using the full recipe it we need to be a larger pan to hold all the cake batter. I would think it would be OK, although some of the moisture might seep out a little bit. I’m glad you enjoyed it!!

  9. Annemarie

    Made this tonight for a church potluck tomorrow, I doubled the recipe and added a bit almond extract to the cake batter before baking it. The cannoli filling was smooth, creamy and delicious. I will definitely make this again!

  10. Chris Lawenstein

    The first time I made this cake, it was HEAVEN! Now, had to figure out how to make it into cupcakes! My husband cooks at the moose lodge on Fridays, and wanted it for dessert there. Didn’t get around to that, but I did make them for the moose lodge picnic today. First batch, I made per recipe, using a fork to punch the holes into the cupcake. Tasted great, but a bit “wet”. So, my second batch, I just made the cupcakes, and used the filing for the frosting and sprinkled the mini chips on top. Had my husband, daughter and her friend taste test them. They all liked the all, but said for cupcakes, the second batch was better. So, sent them all over to the picnic. 42 cupcakes. My husband said people went bonkers over them! One guy wanted to buy them all, but the only let him buy 8! LOL! They also sold them for $1.00 ea. Will be making them for the next bake sale there at the end of Sept. Thanks for a great recipe,a nd the inspiration for the cupcakes!

      1. Chris Lawenstein

        LOL! I just had someone order a cake for their birthday! They call it a “A slice of heaven to die for!”

  11. Morgan Harris

    Ok I know this is a cannoli cake but do you know if there is anything I can substitute for the ricotta? My husband and I are not fans. 
    Thanks 
    Morgan 

  12. Annette

    Ok, so I was looking for a recipe that I could use up some “left over” Cannoli dip from New Years Eve. Shockingly enough, yes, we did have leftover cannoli dip, mainly due to the fact that my brother-in-law is an amazing Italian cook & there was so much good food all around. I made the poke cake using the cannoli dip as a 1-1 replacement for the liquids in the cake mix. SO AMAZINGLY MOIST! then we went crazier & made a box brownie mix with some more dip. YUM! Frosted the cake as you suggested, brownies vanished before I could even dust them with powdered sugar for effect. So glad I found your posting so I could have a base to experiment off of & not be intimidated by the ricotta cheese.

  13. Linda Baker

    I just finished making this cake and considered piping the frosting directly into my mouth! I had absolutely no issues with the frosting consistency and even added the sweetened condensed milk. 
    I can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow to see how everyone likes it. Thanks for the great recipe. It was very easy to make too.

  14. Erika

    Incredible! The cake was moist & the filling was out of this world delicious! I followed the directions exactly and it came out perfectly! For the filling, I added everything to the ricotta only and then folded in the mascarpone at the end so that it didn’t get too runny. I would definitely make this again & again! Thank you!!!

  15. Laura P

    Making this tonight. My kids and husband love cannoli’s so I think they will enjoy this. 
    Do you let the cake cool before poking holes through it? 

  16. Maria

    I made this today for my husband and my dad for Father’s Day. It was an absolute hit!  Super yummy ???? Thank you so much for a great recipe!! 

  17. Laura

    I baked my own birthday cake using this recipe…. oh my yumminess.  I could just take a spoon and eat the icing from the bowl…. thanks for a delicious recipe that i will be making again.

  18. Natalie

    What a great recipe! I used Galbani brand Marscapone and Ricotta (Whole Milk) and had no problems with it being runny. I will say that I only gave my topping ingredients one good mix. I gradually folded it in which may have helped with consistency.

    Like all good Italian recipes, slow and steady wins the race. I mixed my topping and allowed it to set for 2 hours in the fridge before topping my cake. I also let my completed cake sit overnight in the fridge before diving into it.

    Now, I did make two minor adjustments that added big flavor. I adore maraschino cherries in my cannoli filling so I added about 8 to 10 of those. I chopped them up very finely and mixed it into my topping. If you do use maraschino cherries, make sure to let the juices drip out of a paper towel BEFORE adding to the topping so there is not any additional moisture. Delicious!

    My second adjustment was adding a teaspoon of almond extract into my cake batter. It really elevates it to another level!

    Thanks for an amazing recipe that reminds me of my childhood! =)

  19. Holly

    This recipe looks AMAZING! Just a few questions:

    Do I have to wait for the cake to cool before poking holes in it?
    When I combine the ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese, do the cheeses have to be chilled or at room temperature? I’m afraid to over mix the cheeses, how long do you think I should mix it for? Would it be with an electric mixer on low? Also does making it the night before affect the taste or texture of the cake? Thanks so much!!

    1. Lindsay

      You can do it while warm or cool, it’ll be fine. Both the cheeses can get fairly soft at room temperature. I think it’s a little more stable when they’re chilled. Just mix them on low until they’re combined. Making it the night before will be fine and give it a chance to set.

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!

Scripture I’m Loving

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