This cannoli cake might be one of my favorite recipes on the blog! It has three fluffy vanilla cake layers studded with mini chocolate chips, cannoli cream filling, and a mascarpone frosting. Each slice is the perfect amount of sweetness, but with a slight tang from the ricotta cheese, and the added texture from the mini chocolate chips. You guys are going to love this cake!
Components of a cannoli cream cake
- The cake. This cake is *mwah* chef's kiss in both taste and texture. Adapted from my Vanilla Cake With Strawberries and Cream recipe, it has the best vanilla flavor and is super light and fluffy. This cake has three cake layers filled with mini chocolate chips.
- The cannoli cream. Who doesn't like cannoli cream?! This is my favorite part of the cake in my opinion. The cannoli cream is at the perfect sweetness level, but has a slight tang from the ricotta cheese. The filling also has mini chocolate chips.
- The mascarpone frosting. This frosting is SO good!!! If you don't know what mascarpone is, it is a soft Italian cheese that is similar to cream cheese in taste and texture. I think it is a bit milder than cream cheese, which I LOVE.
- Cake flour: please, please, please do not sub out the cake flour with all purpose flour! First of all, they are not a one to one swap. Second of all, the cake flour adds such a moist and tender crumb. Cake flour is a lower protein flour which is milled to a finer consistency, so a cake made with cake flour will have a tighter crumb.
- Baking soda: baking soda is used as the leavener in this cake.
- Sugar: granulated sugar adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the cake. We also need powdered sugar for the cannoli cream and mascarpone frosting.
- Fats: we use a combination of unsalted butter and vegetable oil in this cake. Both of these add to the moistness of the cake. We also add whole milk for extra moisture and to thin out the batter a bit.
- Eggs: eggs add moisture and bind the ingredients together.
- Ricotta cheese: a needed ingredient when making cannoli cream! Make sure to use good quality ricotta cheese.
- Heavy cream: we use a bit of whipped heavy cream in the cannoli cream to make it super light and fluffy.
- Mascarpone: mascarpone cheese is a soft Italian cheese that is similar to cream cheese in taste and texture, although I find it to be a bit milder than regular cream cheese. It makes for the perfect frosting!
- Mini chocolate chips: mini chocolate chips are in every component of this cake - the cake layers, the cannoli cream, and the frosting!
- Make the cake batter. Whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Beat together the butter and oil until combined, then stream in the granulated sugar and mix. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined, then add half of the milk and mix until almost combined. Repeat with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the milk. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Bake. Separate the cake batter evenly into three 8 inch cake pans. Bake for 26-32 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Make the cannoli cream. Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Fold together the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Then fold in the whipped cream until combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Make the mascarpone frosting. Beat together the mascarpone cheese and butter until combined and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Continue to add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and mix until combined. Add the milk if necessary and mix, then fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Assemble. Take your first cake layer and pipe a ring of frosting on the top edges of the cake. Add the cannoli filling. Top with a second cake layer and repeat the piping/filling. Top with the third cake layer. Use the remaining frosting to frost the sides and top of the cake. Enjoy!
Why is my cake dry?
A cake can be dry from over measuring the flour. The best way to measure flour is with a kitchen scale - it is the most accurate. If you don't have a kitchen scale, spoon the flour into a measuring cup, then level it off with a knife.
Over baking can also result in a dry cake. Just a few extra minutes in the oven can turn a soft and moist cake into a tough and dry one, so make sure to keep an eye on it. It is finished when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Why did my cake sink?
Cakes can sink for a number of reasons. First, is over mixing the batter. Make sure to only mix your batter until the dry ingredients are JUST incorporated, not any longer. Second, an underbaked cake can sink, so make sure to bake the cake all the way through. Finally, poor air circulation in your oven/opening and closing the door too quickly can cause your cake to deflate. If you have poor air circulation, make sure to rotate your cake pans around in the oven half way through baking, and don't open/close the door to fast. This will blow all of the hot air out of the oven.
Why is my cake dense?
A dense cake is likely from too much liquid. I highly suggest using a kitchen scale to measure our your ingredients - it is the most accurate and will serve better results. Using volume measurements is not ideal because my 1 cup measuring cup can be different from your 1 cup measuring cup.
How do I store this cake?
Any cake exposed to air will become dry pretty quickly, so make sure to secure it properly. Cut the cake into slices and wrap each individual slice with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge.
Can I make this cake ahead of time?
Yes! Bake the cake layers and, once cool, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. You can freeze them for up to three months. Thaw the cake layers in the fridge.
You can also make the mascarpone frosting ahead of time. Place the frosting on a piece of plastic wrap and tightly close it. Place it in a ziplock bag and into the freezer. Let it thaw in the fridge.
I do not suggest making the cannoli cream in advance.
Baking in grams
While I provide volume measurements for the recipes on my blog, I highly suggest baking these recipes using weight. It is the most standardized and accurate way to bake. I carefully recipe test all of my recipes using a kitchen scale, not by using cups, and therefore I cannot guarantee the success of my recipes when using volume measurements.
Other recipes you may like
- Vanilla Bundt Cake
- Vanilla Cake With Strawberries and Cream
- Classic Vanilla Cupcakes
- Gingerbread Bundt Cake
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Cannoli Cream Cake
- 3 cups (360 grams) cake flour spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup (100 grams) vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk room temperature
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1 tablespoon (180 grams) cake flour
- 2 cups (500 grams) ricotta cheese
- ¾ cup (90 grams) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (60 grams) heavy whipping cream cold
- ¼ cup (45 grams) mini chocolate chips
- 8 oz (226 grams) mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6-7 cups (720-840 grams) powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
- 1 ¼ cups (225 grams) mini chocolate chips
- Please read through all of the instructions thoroughly before baking.
- Preheat oven to 325F and line three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. If you are greasing the pans with spray, make sure to NOT overspray otherwise the sides/edges will brown/crisp up because of the excess fat from the spray.
- Toss together the mini chocolate chips with one tablespoon of flour. This will prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom of the pan.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on high speed until completely combined. This will only happen if the butter is fully at room temperature. About 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, stream in the granulated sugar then beat on medium speed until combined and fluffy. 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well on low speed in between each addition, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. I normally scrape the sides and bottom after every egg addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix on low-medium speed until combined.
- With the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredients. Once almost fully incorporated, add half of the milk and mix until almost combined. Repeat this with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the milk. Do not over mix. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the three cake pans (about 475-485 grams per pan). Bake the cakes for 26-32 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The edges of the cake will be slightly pulling away from the pan. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Place the ricotta in a mesh strainer or a cheese cloth over a large bowl and put it in the fridge. Leave in the fridge for the water to drain, ideally overnight, but for at least three hours.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a small bowl if using a handheld mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. About 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, fold together the strained ricotta, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Then fold in the whipped cream until fully incorporated.
- Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the cake.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the mascarpone frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the mascarpone and butter together on medium-high speed until combined, smooth and fluffy, and no more lumps exist.
- Add the vanilla extract and one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until combined - starting at low speed so the sugar doesn’t fly out of the bowl, then bumping it up to high speed. Continue to add one cup of powdered sugar add a time and beat.
- If needed, add the milk then mix until combined. Once everything is combined, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. You may need to add more powdered sugar (to thicken) or more milk (to thin) depending on desired consistency.
- Add the mini chocolate chips and fold to combine.
- Once the cakes are COMPLETELY cool (there should absolutely be no heat to them), we assemble the cake. You can even refrigerate them for 10 minutes to ensure they are extra cold.
- The cakes should not have much of a dome top, but if they do, feel free to use a serrated knife to level them off.
- Fill a piping bag with the tip cut off with the mascarpone frosting. Set aside.
- On top of the first cake layer, pipe a ring of the frosting on the outer edge of the cake - this will act as a wall to hold the cannoli filling. Add about half of the cannoli filling (but don’t over-fill) and spread into an even layer.
- Place the second cake layer on top and repeat this process of piping/filling. You may have some cannoli cream left over.
- Place the third cake layer on top. Use the remaining mascarpone frosting to frost the sides and top of the cake.
- Slice and enjoy! To store, cut the cake into slices, wrap in plastic wrap, and keep them in the fridge.
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!