Holy Cannoli’s in Rochester: Global Fame with a Family Recipe
“All my grandmothers, aunts and uncles lived to be 100 – or just about,” she states, chuckling.
NICOLE SCHULTE-FRANEY (left)
Depending on the number of special orders they may be filling for parties, holidays, retail customers and corporate gifts (especially to doctors’ offices, salons, and schools), the Holy Cannoli’s crew might hand roll 1000-1500 pastry shells every day, wrapping each flat circle of light, homemade dough around a wooden dowel and then quickly dip-frying it to airy, golden, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
One of those fine points is the consistency of their cannoli filling.
The making of the cannolis began in 1896. They were for their region’s “Carnivale,” the celebration before Lent.
She continues, “On the other side of the mountain, there were goats – and the cheeses they made included ricotta. On our side of the mountain, we had cows and made our sweet, smooth, Sicilian cream for filling our cannolis.”
And now, great-great grandchildren Andrew, age seven, and Benjamin, age four, are the sixth generation to be learning to roll cannolis — though, for now, they only fill their own.
Using traditional recipes, time-tested techniques and quality ingredients, Holy Cannoli’s continually innovates new products and flavors.
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They have also created unique ways of packaging the cannolis and fillings.
For retail sale, parties, office luncheons and other special events, Holy Cannoli’s offers “heavenly chips and cannoli dip:” big-bite pieces of cannoli shells for dipping into the cream, which is packaged on the side.
For Mardi Gras, they fill hundreds of paczkis with cannoli, and for national donut day, they served cannoli-filled donuts.
“We make cakes, cupcakes, cookies and dessert trays for weddings and showers – or just because you’d like a dessert for yourself.”
One of those customers is Holly Mincer, from Sterling Heights.
“My best friend is Italian,” she said, “and she is a fantastic cook and dessert maker.”
Last winter, Holy Cannoli’s made new fans from around the United States when they attended a Goldman-Sachs event in Washington, D.C., for which they made over 10,000 hand-filled cannolis.
“If we get asked to do something, we just figure out a way to make it happen,” Nicole says.
In 2017, while at Detroit’s US-China Small Business Conference, event host and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba expressed keen interest in making Holy Cannoli’s products available to Chinese citizens who yearn for high-quality goods from midwestern America.
“So, this baby that is our business is walking,” says Nicole, “maybe, with continued product development, all the way to China. We’re in an extremely exciting position.”
“Meanwhile, here in Rochester and at our Berkley store, we have great customers that are like family,” Cathy says. “People may come in grumpy, but they leave happy.”
A smiling, nine-year-old guest says, “I love this place. It’s magical!”
As Sharon leans over to give him his rainbow-sprinkled cannoli, she whispers, “I hope you keep coming here until you turn 100.”