You can make this easy cannoli cake with only 6 basic ingredients. And, since it uses store-bought pound cake, there is no baking involved! A simple and truly crowd-pleasing dessert for any dinner party or potluck.
Note: this post was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with new photos and improved instructions.
I had to name this cannoli cake recipe "easy cannoli cake" because that's exactly what it is! There is no baking involved since it uses store-bought pound cake and there are only six ingredients!
My mom made a cake similar to this one a few times during my childhood. I asked her where she got the recipe from but, alas, it is lost to time! Her version used one small pre-made pound cake, which was sliced into three horizontal layers. The cannoli cream was layered in between, and then the entire thing was coated in ganache. I have fond memories of that cake! But, when I tried to recreate it now, I had trouble with the layers sliding all over the place and it was a bit of a mess.
So, the answer was to just assemble the cake inside an 8 x 8 inch pan. No worrying about the cake holding together. Besides being really easy to assemble, this cake travels really well, all you need is to add a cover or some plastic wrap to the top of the dish. So this is the perfect dessert to take to dinner parties and potlucks.
(This would also be the perfect dessert to pair with my creamy spinach artichoke chicken casserole!)
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- Pound cake: you will need a 16 ounce (454 g) store-bought frozen pound cake. The specific pound cake I use is Sara Lee Family Size All Butter Pound Cake. I talk more about substituting other types of pound cake in the Recipe FAQs section below!
- Ricotta: I prefer using whole milk ricotta for the added richness it provides to the filling, but you could substitute part-skim if you like.
- Mini chocolate chips: usually I would say that you could substitute regular size chocolate chips, but the mini size is better for the cannoli filling so you aren't crunching down on large bites of chocolate (if you don't mind that then you can use regular chips!).
Step by step photos
Here is a breakdown of how to make the easy cannoli cake. To see a brief slideshow how-to, check out my web story for this recipe!
1. Before you start anything else, make sure you place your pound cake in the freezer if it's not already in there! This will make it much easier to slice the cake when it's time.
After you take care of that, then you will start to work on the ganache. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat half of the heavy whipping cream on high for 90 seconds. Then, add in 1 cup of the mini chocolate chips.
2. Make sure all the chips are submerged in the cream, and let the mini chocolate chips sit in the hot cream for about 2 minutes. Then, stir the chocolate chips and cream together. It may seem like the chips won't melt at first, but it will come together!
If you need to, you can microwave the mixture for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until everything is melted. Place the ganache in the fridge to cool down.
3. Now, start to work on the cannoli filling. Add the ricotta cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar to a large bowl. Whisk everything together until smooth. Then, mix in ½ cup of the mini chocolate chips.
4. In a separate small container, whip the remaining heavy cream to stiff peaks. I like doing this with a stick (immersion) blender because it's super quick and easy.
If you want to use this method, just place the heavy whipping cream in a tall-sided container, like this quart sized glass jar. Work the immersion blender up and down in the heavy cream until you reach stiff peaks, which should only take about a minute.
If you don't have an immersion blender, you can place the heavy whipping cream in a small bowl and use hand beaters to whip.
5. Next, gently fold in about half the whipped cream to the ricotta mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream, again, doing so very gently to not deflate the air from the whipped cream. If you want more help on how to fold, check out this handy how-to guide on how to fold ingredients.
6. At this point you can retrieve the pound cake from the freezer. Slice it into ¼ inch (6.35 mm) thick slices. If you are using the 16 ounce (454 g) Sara Lee pound cake I recommend, you should have about ¼ of the pound cake left over.
You will need 24 total slices, but this may vary if you are using a different size or brand of pound cake.
7. Place slices of pound cake into an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pan. Just make an even layer, and if the slices overlap slightly that's ok. If you need to, you can very gently press the slices into place so there are no gaps or air pockets.
8. Next, add half of the cannoli filling on top and spread it out into an even layer.
9. Top with another layer of cake.
10. Then, add the rest of the cannoli filling, followed by the final layer of pound cake.
11. Press the cake down very gently, you should see any air pockets on the sides and corners closing up!
12. Grab the ganache from the fridge and give it a stir so it's nice and smooth. By this point, the ganache should no longer be warm (it doesn't have to be perfectly chilled, about room temperature is good). Pour the ganache all over the cake.
13. Spread the ganache out into an even layer.
14. Finally, sprinkle on as many of the remaining mini chocolate chips as you like. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
After about 15 minutes in the fridge, add a layer of plastic wrap on top (waiting the 15 minutes gives the ganache time to firm up a little so the plastic wrap won't stick).
Tips and tricks
- Getting even, thin slices of pound cake is important; if they are too thick all of the layers may not fit in a pan. Based on the recommendation of a reader, recently I've been using a ruler (or my favorite bench scraper!) to mark where I need to cut and it helps a lot!
- I also recommend using a sharp serrated bread knife to cut the pound cake, this really helps to get clean slices. The knife I am using is the 9 inch serrated bread knife from Wusthof (affiliate link). I love this knife and highly recommend it!
- When making the ganache, it may seem like the chocolate isn't melting when you first start to stir it, but it will come together so just be patient. If needed, you can microwave it for another 15 seconds and stir again. But, avoid overheating the ganache as this can cause it to split!
As I explained in the Ingredient notes section above, I use the "family size" Sara Lee Family Size All Butter Pound Cake, which is 16 ounces (454 g). This cake is sold in the freezer section of the grocery store. If you are using this cake, you will likely use about ¾ of the cake.
If you can't find the family size Sara Lee pound cake, you can also use two regular sized Sara Lee frozen pound cakes, that are 10.75 ounces (304 g) each. You will probably end up using about one and a half of those in total.
Or, you can also buy a pound cake in the bakery section of the grocery store or make your own. You will just need about 12 ounces of cake in total, but it's probably safer to buy or make a little extra just in case your cake is denser or you cut your slices a bit thicker than I did.
If you don't buy a frozen cake, just make sure to stick your cake in the freezer right when you start the recipe. When you are ready to slice the pound cake it will be easier to make thinner, cleaner slices.
This recipe calls for an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) square pan. I prefer using a glass pan, because that way you can see if you have any air pockets between the layers.
You also want to use a pan that has deeper sides. If the pan you are using has shallow sides, you may not have enough room to fit all the layers. The pan I recommend is the Anchor Hocking 8-Inch Square Glass Baking Dish with TrueFit Lid (affiliate link). It has sides that are 2.65 inches (6.7 cm) tall.
If you don't have an 8 x 8 inch pan or are concerned that the 8 x 8 inch pan you have isn't deep enough, you can make the cake in a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.
If using a 9 x 9 inch pan, keep in mind that depending on the dimensions of the pound cake you are using, you may have a small gap on the sides that you can fill with smaller pieces of cake. The cannoli filling and ganache layers will also be thinner. But, the cake will still taste delicious!
Yes, that's the beauty of this cake! You will need to refrigerate the finished cake for a minimum of 3 hours before cutting into it, but you can make it the day before with no problems. Just make sure to cover the top with plastic wrap (after the ganache has had a little time to set up first).
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
Easy Cannoli Cake
A cannoli cake recipe made in a baking pan, so it's easy to take to dinner parties and potlucks! Plus, it couldn't be easier because it uses store-bought pound cake, and only 6 ingredients in total!
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- Category: dessert
- Method: no bake
- Cuisine: American
- one 16 ounce (454 g) "family size" store bought frozen pound cake (see note 1)
- one 15 ounce (425 g) container whole milk ricotta cheese
- one 12 ounce (340 g) bag mini chocolate chips, divided (see note 2)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups (473 ml) heavy whipping cream, divided
- ¾ cup (88 g) powdered sugar
- If your cake isn't frozen, place in the freezer.
- Place 1 cup (237 ml) of the heavy whipping cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 90 seconds. Add 1 cup (178 g) of the mini chocolate chips, making sure the chips are all submerged. Let sit for two minutes and then stir until the chocolate is all melted and the mixture is smooth. If the chocolate isn't melting all the way after stirring well, microwave the mixture in 15 second increments until smooth, stirring well in between. (See note 3.) Place in the refrigerator.
- Place the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk until combined and smooth. Add ½ cup (89 g) of mini chocolate chips and stir to combine.
- Using an immersion blender or hand beaters, beat the remaining 1 cup (237 ml) of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. (If you are using an immersion blender, place the cream in a tall-sided container; if using hand beaters, place the cream in a medium bowl.) Add half of the whipped cream to the ricotta mixture and gently fold it in. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Set cannoli filling aside.
- Cut the frozen pound cake into ¼ inch (6.35 mm) slices using a serrated knife. Layer some of the cake pieces into a deep 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pan so the bottom is completely covered in one layer of cake. (See notes 4 - 5.) Depending on the size and shape of the cake pieces, you may need to trim some of the pieces to fit. It's ok if the pieces overlap slightly. If they do, very gently press them down to remove some of the air pockets.
- Add half of the cannoli filling on top of the bottom cake layer and spread it so the filling is even. Add another layer of cake to the top. Gently press the cake pieces down so the cake adheres to the filling underneath.
- Repeat this process by adding the remaining filling and one more layer of cake on top.
- Retrieve the ganache from the fridge and stir until smooth. Pour all of the ganache over the top and smooth out with a spoon if necessary. Top with as many of the remaining mini chocolate chips as you like. Place in the fridge for a minimum of three hours or overnight. Cover the cake after it has been in the fridge for 15 minutes; this allows the ganache to firm up so the cover will be less likely to stick.
- The brand of pound cake I use is Sara Lee Family Size All Butter Pound Cake, which you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store. There will be some left over if you use the 16 ounce "family size" cake. If you can't find the 16 ounce pound cake, you can buy 2 regular size Sara Lee (10.75 ounce) frozen pound cakes; you will have about half of the second one left over. Or, you can buy any pound cake or make your own. I used about 12 ounces of cake in total, but if you are buying a non-frozen cake of a different brand or making your own, buy a little extra to make sure you don't run out in case your cake is denser or you cut your slices thicker.
- Make sure the bag of mini chocolate chips you purchase is a full 12 ounces (340 g), recently I have seen some bags being sold that are only 10 ounces!
- When making the ganache, it may seem like the chocolate isn't melting when you first start to stir it, but it will come together so just be patient. If you end up needing to microwave it for additional time as instructed in the recipe, be careful to not overheat it so the ganache doesn't split.
- In order to fit the cake, you will need a square 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with taller sides; the one I use has sides that are 2.65 inches (6.7 cm) tall. If the square pan you have has sides that are significantly shorter, you can use a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan instead to ensure you have enough room. Please note, if using a 9 x 9 inch pan, the cannoli filling and ganache layers will be thinner. And, to completely fill in the larger size of the 9 x 9 inch pan, you may need to cut some extra pieces of pound cake to fill any gaps.
- Using a ruler will help to make even slices of the correct thickness! If you cut the cake slices thicker than ¼ inch (6.35 mm), you may have trouble fitting all the layers in the pan, depending on the depth of the pan you are using.
- The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: 1/12 recipe
- Calories: 397
- Sugar: 27.9 g
- Sodium: 261 mg
- Fat: 21.2 g
- Saturated Fat: 10.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 44.3 g
- Fiber: .2 g
- Protein: 7.3 g
- Cholesterol: 67 mg
Keywords: cannoli cake, easy cannoli cake, no bake cannoli cake