cannoli.jpg
In Detroit, pizza is square; hot dogs are topped with chili, mustard and onions and cannoli are stuffed with custard.

The custard comes as a

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Holy Cannoli Brings Detroit-Style Pastries to Seattle

cannoli.jpg
In Detroit, pizza is square; hot dogs are topped with chili, mustard and onions and cannoli are stuffed with custard.

The custard comes as a surprise to cannoli eaters who were raised in New York and New Jersey, where immigrant bakers adapted to the dearth of fresh ingredients by filling their pastries with ricotta. Italian-Americans didn't encounter the same grocery headaches in southeastern Michigan, and so stuck with the traditional recipe of egg yolks and cream.

"I take cream, vanilla bean and a whisk," says Adrienne Bandlow, a native Detroiter who just opened Holy Cannoli in Belltown. "Ricotta cheese is kind of lazy. You're not cooking a custard, you're putting a pre-made ingredient in a bowl."

Producing a single batch - or enough custard to fill 200 shells -- takes Bandlow about an hour. She also makes stromboli for sale in her shop, but says she's still struggling to figure how many sweet and savory pastries to prepare. She's pinballed between running out of cannoli and having unsold cannoli at the end of the day.

"I thought it was going to be easy, I'd just make food and people would show up," Bandlow says. "I'm overwhelmed."

Bandlow decided to open her shop after being laid off from her public health job in June. She wanted to create the kind of friendly hangout she remembered from Detroit. "When I say Detroit-style, I'm talking Detroit prices here," she says. "My highest menu item is $5."

Although she'd worked in a deli as a kid and helped out at her family's diner, Bandlow had no bakery experience when she launched Holy Cannoli. Bandlow's grandmother, who taught her how to make cannoli, is constantly worried about her chances.

"She's such a worrywart," Bandlow says. "It's that generational thing. She's worried because when they had the restaurant in Detroit, someone drove a truck into it."

There are four cannoli on Bandlow's menu - plain, mocha, chocolate and rum raisin - and each of them is an argument in Bandlow's favor. The delicate cannoli are lightly sweet, with sturdy crisp shells.

"It makes me happy, making cannoli," Bandlow says.

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