Cannoli Cake

5 from 3 reviews

Tender sponge cake layers are brushed with a chocolate liqueur syrup and then spread with a luscious cannoli frosting, perfectly creamy and fluffy.



Sponge Cake Layers: (makes 2 (9 inch) sponge cake layers)

  • 8 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • ½ cup milk and melted butter, total (1/4 cup each)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup chocolate liqueur

Filling and Frosting:

  • 2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or to taste)
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • Mini chocolate chips, for decorating


Sponge Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of 2 round (9 inch round) cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another.
  3. Beat the whites using a whisk attachment on a standing mixer or a hand-held mixer until foamy. Gradually pour in half of the sugar. Mix the whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. In the other bowl with the yolks, add the remaining sugar and use the same whisk attachment to beat the yolks until they are pale and fluffy.
  5. Combine the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl or cup. Set aside.
  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the egg yolks, being careful not to deflate the batter as much as possible.
  7. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt over the folded eggs and gently fold in the batter.
  8. When there are still some remaining streaks of flour, pour in the milk and butter mixture into the batter by the side of the bowl.
  9. Continue gently folding until evenly distributed.
  10. Divide the batter in half, pouring into the prepared cake pans.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.
  13. Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate liqueur syrup, the cannoli filling, and the frosting.

Chocolate Liqueur Syrup:

  1. Make a simple sugar by heating the sugar and water in a small pot until sugar dissolves and add the chocolate liqueur. Set aside to cool.

Filling and Frosting:

  1. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar.
  2. Add the mascarpone cheese and vanilla. You can just fold in the mascarpone cheese with a rubber spatula, since it’s soft enough or mix with the mixer just until combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in the cold heavy cream and starting mixing the mixture on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed.
  4. Mix until the heavy cream is incorporated into the frosting, becomes thick and fluffy.
  5. Set aside half of the mixture in a medium bowl. This will be the frosting. Set aside.
  6. Add the ricotta cheese to the second part. This is the cannoli filling. Set aside as well.

Assembling the Cake:

  1. Cut each cake in half horizontally.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush the top and bottom of each layer with the chocolate liqueur syrup.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the Cannoli filling over the cake layer.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the cake layers, brushing the chocolate liqueur syrup over both sides of the cake layer and spreading the cannoli filling over the other two cake layers. You can sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the filling. I only sprinkled chocolate chips over the middle layer, leaving them out of the first and third layers, but it’s completely up to you.
  5. Use the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
  6. Cover the sides of the cake with cake crumbs, any nuts that you like or chocolate chips. I used some leftover scraps from another cake that I was making, putting the cake scraps into a food processor to get fine crumbs. Cup a handful of crumbs or nuts in your palm with one hand and holding the cake with the other hand, slightly turn it, press the crumbs/nuts all around the sides of the cake.
  7. I piped some buttercream frosting around the top of the cake and sprinkled the decorative dollops with mini chocolate chips. Adding some mini cannolis to the top of the cake gives everyone a hint of what kind of cake this is.
  8. For best results, refrigerate the cake for 2-4 hours so that the cake has time to meld together and the filling and frosting soak into the cake. I prefer to do this overnight.
  9. Store the cake in the refrigerator, but let it come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving it, so that the cannoli filling softens and becomes so velvety and smooth.