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!
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Easy Cannoli Cake Ingredients
There are only six ingredients: store bought frozen pound cake, ricotta cheese (I like using whole milk ricotta), mini chocolate chips, heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla.
What Kind of Pound Cake Should I Use for Easy Cannoli Cake?
I used the “family size” 16 oz. Sara Lee frozen pound cake, and had a little bit left over. If you can’t find the family size one, you can just use two regular sized (10.75 oz.) frozen pound cakes; you will probably end up using about 1 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 oz. 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.
How to Make Easy Cannoli Cake
Here is the step by step breakdown of how to make Easy Cannoli Cake:
Pre-Step: Place Pound Cake in the Freezer
If your pound cake isn’t already frozen, place it in the freezer now so it will be easier to slice when the time comes!
Step One: Make the Ganache
This is the first step so it has time to cool down in the fridge before you need to top the cake with it. I like to use the microwave to heat the cream, this is easier to me than using a separate saucepan.
First, pour half of the heavy cream (one cup) into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. The cream should be hot and just a bit steamy. Remove it from the microwave and pour in 1 cup of the mini chocolate chips.
Let sit for about 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is all melted and combined with the cream. If it’s not coming together even after stirring for a minute or two, you can put the mixture back in the microwave for 15 seconds and stir again. Repeat until the mixture is smooth. It will start out looking like this:
And will end up like this:
Place ganache in the refrigerator while you prep the other steps.
Step Two: Make the Cannoli Filling
Add the ricotta, powdered sugar, and vanilla into a medium bowl. Use a whisk to break up the ricotta and combine the ingredients until they are smooth.
After it’s combined it will look like this:
Dump in a half cup of mini chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Set aside the ricotta mixture for a minute. Time to make whipped cream! As you may know from my Almond Raspberry Ricotta Parfaits recipe and Strawberry Shortcake Mug Cake recipe, I really like using the stick blender to make small amounts of whipped cream. I just find it to be a really easy and efficient method to whip one cup or less of heavy cream.
So, if you have a stick (immersion) blender, pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a tall, straight-sided jar. I used a quart-sized canning jar. Blitz your cream until you get stiff peaks. This should only take a minute or two. Stiff peaks means the whipped cream is firm and doesn’t droop down on itself when you pick up your blender from the cream. If you don’t have a stick blender, you can use a mini food processor or electric handheld beaters.
Now gently fold half of the whipped cream into the ricotta mixture using a large spoon or rubber spatula. Once the first half is incorporated, gently fold in the second half of the whipped cream. Once you are done folding in the whipped cream it should look like this:
Step Three: Slice the Pound Cake
Now it’s time to retrieve your pound cake from the freezer. Using a serrated knife, slice the pound cake into ¼ inch slices. With the 16 oz. family size Sara Lee pound cake, you will need a total of 24 slices (8 per layer times three layers).
If you are using a different size or type of cake, you will probably need more or less slices since the dimensions of your cake will likely be different. If you think you will have leftovers and don’t want to slice the entire pound cake, you can slice some and lay out your first layer in the pan to see how many you will need to cover the bottom. Then just multiply that number by three, since there are three total layers of pound cake.
Using a good serrated knife is really helpful in getting thin, clean slices. I’m using this Wustof Classic Bread Knife (affiliate link). After years of using cheap serrated knives, I finally bought this good quality knife and I wish I had done it sooner! The knife blade is nice and long so you can cut through an entire round loaf of bread in one smooth motion. And it’s really sharp so it makes clean cuts, even on really tough sourdough. I highly recommend it!
Step Four: Assembly
Now that you have all of your components, it’s time to put it all together! Lay out your first layer of pound cake into the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan. I’m using my favorite Anchor Hocking glass pan (affiliate link); it’s the best because it comes with a clear lid so you can see what’s inside the dish (this is ideal if you are worried you are about to smash your dessert as you place the lid on!).
Fitting the Pound Cake Pieces in the Pan
Because of the size of the pound cake I’m using, the pieces overlapped in the pan just a tiny bit. If you wanted to, you could trim the pieces so they fit perfectly but I just don’t have the patience for that. So I tiled them in and then gently pressed them down to reduce any space underneath.
If you are using a different size pound cake and your pieces fit in perfectly, you don’t have to do this step. Or, you may end up needing to cut some pieces to get an even layer on the bottom. It doesn’t matter what the layout looks like, as long as you have the bottom covered.
Build the Layers (and Make Sure There are No Gaps!)
After you have your first layer of cake down, add half of the cannoli filling and spread it evenly over the cake layer.
Then add the next layer of cake pieces on top. If you see any gaps between your cake and the filling below, again gently press the cake down so the cake and filling bond together. If you are using a pan that isn’t glass so you can’t see any potential gaps, just give the corners a gentle press down for good measure.
Now just repeat the process with the second half of the filling and the final layer of cake. After you have all your cake and filling layers done, it’s time for ganache!
Pour the Ganache and Decorate With Chocolate Chips
Get your ganache from the fridge. By this time it shouldn’t be warm anymore. It’s ok if it’s not totally cool, around room temperature is fine. Give it a good stir to make sure it’s smooth, and pour it all over the top of the last cake layer.
Smooth the filling out with a large spoon or rubber spatula if necessary. Then sprinkle over as many of the remaining mini chocolate chips over the top as you like.
Then place in the fridge for at least three hours, this gives the cake and filling time to bond together and the top to set, so it will stay together in nice pieces when you cut it. I would advise to not cover the pan for about fifteen minutes when you first place it in the fridge. This will give the filling time to set up a bit so when you do add a cover it will be much less likely to stick.
I hope your friends and family enjoy this easy cannoli cake as much as we do. If you need another easy potluck dessert, check out my recipe for Mocha Oreo No Bake Dessert!Print
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!
- 1 16 oz. “family size” store bought frozen pound cake (see notes)
- 1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 12 oz. bag mini chocolate chips, divided
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 c. heavy whipping cream, divided
- ¾ c. powdered sugar
- If your cake isn’t frozen, place in the freezer.
- Place 1 cup of the heavy whipping cream in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 90 seconds. Add 1 cup of the mini chocolate chips. 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, microwave the mixture in 15 second increments until smooth, stirring in between. Place in the refrigerator.
- Place the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk until combined and smooth. Add ½ cup of mini chocolate chips and stir to combine.
- Using an immersion blender or hand beaters, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. (If you are using an immersion blender, place the cream in a tall-sided container.) Add half of the whipped cream to the ricotta mixture and gently fold in. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Set cannoli filling aside.
- Cut the frozen pound cake into ¼ inch slices using a serrated knife. Layer some of the cake pieces into an 8 x 8 inch pan so the bottom is completely covered in one layer of cake. 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, give them a gently press down into the pan.
- 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. If you see gaps between the filling and top layer of cake, gently press the cake pieces down so the cake adheres to the filling underneath. (If you are using an opaque baking pan and can’t see the layers on the side, gently press the corners down just in case!)
- 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. 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 I used is Sara Lee, and there will be some left over if you use the 16 oz. cake. If you can’t find the 16 oz. pound cake, you can buy 2 regular size Sara Lee (10.75 oz) 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 oz. 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.
Keywords: cannoli cake, easy cannoli cake, no bake cannoli cake