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
  • 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.


  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 429
  • Sugar: 28.5 g
  • Sodium: 144.5 mg
  • Fat: 22.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 50.6 g
  • Protein: 8.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 75.7 mg

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

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Cannoli topping modified from The Vintage Mixer.

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

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  1. 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. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!!

  5. 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? 

  6. 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!! 

  7. 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.

  8. 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! =)

  9. 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.

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29