Cannoncini are delicious Italian cream horns, made of flaky and crispy puff pastry cones filled with a rich pastry cream. For a chocolate twist, dip them in melted chocolate before filling them!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Delicious: These cream horns are impossible to resist! They are like individual millefeuilles served in pretty and convenient cones!
- Easy: We’ll be using store-bought puff pastry for the pastry cones which makes the process incredibly simple.
- Customizable: I’ll be showing you how to fill the cones with pastry cream. But you can fill them with whatever cream you like. You could also add fruits such as strawberries for a touch of freshness. I absolutely love the pastry cream/strawberry combo! And if you can’t have desserts without chocolate, simply dip the pastry cones in chocolate before filling them!
- Puff pastry sheets: We’ll be using ready rolled pastry sheets. If using store-bought frozen puff pastry, let it thaw in the refrigerator the night before. If you forgot to thaw the puff pastry, let it sit at room temperature as instructed on the packaging (2 hours for me). The dough should still be cold but easy to unroll without cracking.
- Filling: Cannoncini are usually filled with pastry cream. But you can use any filling you like such as crème légère (pastry cream with whipped cream), Chantilly cream or chocolate pastry cream. It’s best to fill the pastries just before serving them so they don’t get soggy.
- Topping: I love brushing the pastry cones with egg wash and sprinkling them with granulated sugar for extra crunchiness. Sugar will also caramelize in the oven giving the puff pastry extra flavor! If you want to skip the egg wash, you can sift powdered sugar over the pastry cones before placing them in the oven.
Cream Horn Molds
You’ll need small individual molds that are either shaped as tubes or cones. I’m using steel molds for pastry cones that have a height of 12 cm (4.72 inches) and a 4 cm (1.57 inch) diameter.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough molds. You can simply use the same molds to make several batches. Just wipe them clean with a paper towel after you’ve unmolded the first batch and make sure they are cool enough before using them.
How to Make Cream Horns with Puff Pastry
We’ll start by preparing the pastry cream as it needs time to chill.
Prepare the pastry cream
- Pour the milk into a small pot and add about a third of the sugar. Heat over medium-high heat until just simmering.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar in a medium-sized bowl until combined. Tip: Whisk as soon as you add the sugar to the egg yolks to prevent lumps from forming.
- Add the sifted cornstarch and whisk once more to combine. If you find the mixture thick you can use a spoon instead of a whisk for this step.
- Tempering the eggs: Gradually add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Don’t pour all the liquid at once. We want to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs without cooking them.
- Pour the mixture back into the pot and cook over medium heat (for about 5 minutes), whisking constantly. Once the foam subsides and the cream starts to thicken, keep an eye out for bubbles forming. When this happens, keep heating for 1-2 more minutes to get rid of any starchy taste. If the cream is starting to stick to the pot or you notice lumps forming, reduce the heat.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the cold butter.
- Add the vanilla extract and whisk until completely smooth and glossy.
Chill the pastry cream
- Transfer to a wide container (to cool down quickly). Press a piece of parchment paper onto the surface of the cream to prevent a film from forming.
- Let it cool down briefly at room temperature (about 10 minutes) then chill for at least an hour or until cold.
Prepare the pastry cones
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/338°F, convection setting (or 190°C/374°F, conventional setting). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Optional: The puff pastry should be easy to release from the molds without sticking. However, if you are worried, lightly brush the molds with melted butter. Note that the butter will make the surface slightly slippery and it will be a bit harder to wrap the puff pastry around the molds.
- Carefully unroll the puff pastry and place it back on the paper that was used to wrap it (or parchment paper). If needed, gently roll it out with a rolling pin to flatten it evenly. Tip: If the puff pastry starts to crack, it’s probably too cold. Let it warm up at room temperature a little before using it. If it is sticky and hard to handle at any point, return it to the refrigerator.
- Using a sharp knife, divide the dough (along the long edge) into equally sized strips, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) each.
- Place a strip (smoother side out) on the tip of a cream horn mold (pointy side) and lightly press it so it sticks. The bottom side of the pastry sheet (touching the wrapping paper) will probably be smoother than the top side.
- Then carefully wrap the dough around the mold, slightly overlapping it. Gently press the edge onto the mold. Repeat with the remaining molds.
- Optional: Brush with egg wash (avoiding the mold) and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Tip: When applying egg wash, it’s best to do it over a small bowl to catch drips (not over the baking sheet).
- Place on prepared baking sheet, pastry seam side down so that it doesn’t unfold.
Bake the puff pastry
- Bake until puffy and golden, about 18 minutes. Let them cool down slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes, before unmolding. If the pastry won’t release easily, gently twist the cone mold whilst pulling the pastry.
- Place on a wire rack to cool down completely before filling with cream.
Fill the cannoncini
- Take the pastry cream out of the fridge and transfer to a mixing bowl. Whip using a hand mixer for 1-2 minutes to loosen.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a large tip with pastry cream. Pipe cream into the pastry cones.
And if you’d like to add a chocolate twist, dip the cones in melted chocolate when they’ve cooled down. Wait for the chocolate to set then fill them with cream and enjoy!