Cannoli Cups

Cannoli Cups are an elegant, but easy, dessert from the American Diabetes Association cookbook, The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen by Barbara Seelig-Brown.
Cannoli Cups

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of the American Diabetes Association and Kitchen PLAY. All opinions are 100% my own.

Several years ago, my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. We knew nothing about diabetes at the time. Seriously, nothing. But we quickly learned that it was excessive weight gain that was the main contributing factor for my husband. We got serious and through changes in his diet (and mine) and weight loss, he was eventually removed from his medications. It was a happy day when the doctors said that he was no longer considered to have diabetes.

While we have continued to improve our eating, we still have a ways to go. My husband and I, along with our oldest daughter, are working to lose a lot of weight. We track our food daily and we focus a lot on eating foods that are lower in calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates — and less processed. We aren’t perfect with it — but we do our best to keep focused and feel that small changes are better than no changes at all.

Cannoli Cups

This week, I was invited to participate in the American Diabetes Association Cookbook Tour called “30 Days of Family Health”. I was sent two wonderful cookbooks full of healthy and delicious recipes, but I wondered: would they benefit my cooking, considering that I wasn’t cooking for anyone with diabetes?

I reviewed both books and I have to say — they are perfect for a family trying to get (and stay) healthy like us. And I think you’ll like them too. Little did I know that diabetic cookbooks aren’t just for people with diabetes — it’s for everyone that wants to eat healthier.

The first of the two American Diabetes Association Cookbooks I want to share with you is called “The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen” by Barbara Seelig-Brown. It’s full of healthy and delicious recipes. And my favorite part? The recipes are easy and truly stress free. I would say almost every recipe is one that you could make on a hectic weeknight.

The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen Cookbook

To formally introduce you to “The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen”, today I’m sharing one of the recipes from it. I love to create desserts (and my family loves to eat them), so I went straight to the dessert section. I decided to make Cannoli Cups — a healthier version of traditional fried cannolis.

One of the key ingredients in making Cannoli Cups is phyllo dough. For those unfamiliar with Phyllo dough, it’s paper thin pastry dough. It’s very delicate and when cooked, it’s very light and crispy. This was my first time using phyllo dough, but once I got the hang of it, I could see it as a great dough substitute for making desserts healthier.

To make the Cannoli Cups, it takes cutting the dough into squares. The original recipe (which you’ll find at the bottom of this post) recommends spraying olive oil cooking spray in between four sheets before cutting. I found that I was having issues with the phyllo dough drying out too quickly (I live in Vegas in a dry climate), so I decided to work with smaller pieces by first cutting the phyllo into squares and then spraying after. Both options work, so I recommend going with what works best for you.

Cannoli Cups - Fillo Dough

With my cut squares of phyllo dough, I laid down one square, gave it a spray and then laid another square down at a slightly different angle (repeating with 2 more squares of dough).

Cannoli Cups - Layer the Fillo Dough

The stack of 4 olive oil-sprayed phyllo dough squares was carefully pressed into a muffin tin. Remember, the phyllo is delicate, so you’ll want to be sure to hold and lift the edges while pressing it into the bottom of the muffin tin.

Cannoli Cups - Place Fillo Dough in Muffin Tin

The phyllo dough is baked in the oven until golden brown, which only takes about 5 minutes. I loved how quickly it cooked because we are still dealing with 100+ temperatures in Vegas and I try to keep my oven off as much as possible in the summer.

Cannoli Cups - Bake Fillo Dough Cups

Meanwhile, in a bowl, you will mix up the remaining ingredients: ricotta, vanilla extract, orange liquor, cinnamon and a bit of confectioner’s sugar.

Cannoli Cups - Ricotta Mixture 2

The ricotta mixture is spooned into the phyllo shells, and it’s topped with a bit of chocolate shavings and chopped pistachios.

Cannoli Cups from The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen

See, I told you it was easy! My family commented how “fancy” it looked and thought I had spent hours making them. Everyone enjoyed them — and my daughter (who tracks all her food intake) was amazed at how low in calories, fat, and carbs these were. The portion is very sensible, but I think the elegant style of the Cannoli Cups makes you feel like you are indulging.

If you do, or even if you don’t, cook for someone with diabetes, I encourage you to check out the catalog of books, such as The Stress Free Diabetes Kitchen, from the American Diabetes Association. I have a discount code for you too — just enter KITCHEN2013 at checkout which will gives you 25% off all books in the ADA online store (valid through October 4, 2013).

With thanks to the American Diabetes Association and author, Barbara Seeling-Brown, I am able to share the full recipe with you. Feel free to print or add to your ZipList recipe box.

Cannoli Cups
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 6 cannoli cups
  • Serving size: 1 cannoli cup
  • Calories: 95
  • Fat: 4
  • 4 sheets (14 × 9-inch) phyllo,
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, or any orange flavored liquor
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼-ounce piece of chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons chopped nuts (such as pistachio or walnuts)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay one sheet of phyllo on parchment-lined cutting board. Spray with olive oil spray. Repeat with all four sheets. Cut into six equal size squares. Place each square in a muffin or cupcake pan. Bake 5–6 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients together. Just before serving, fill each of the Phyllo cups with equal portions of the cheese mixture. Garnish with shaved chocolate and crushed nuts.
1/2 Carbohydrate
1 Lean Meat
1/2 Fat
Calories 95
Calories from Fat 35
Total Fat 4.0 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 15 mg
Sodium130 mg
Potassium 95 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 4 g
Protein 6 g
Phosphorus 95 mg

Want even more healthy family recipes? I’m just one of several food bloggers who are sharing ADA recipes. Visit to see all the other recipes.

Cannoli Cups

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  1. says

    Like you I would have had to educate myself very fast, as I know little about diabetes. This dessert doesn’t look like it’s lacking anything – certainly not deliciousness!

  2. Gail H. says

    Although I’m not diabetic, I love to cook and am trying to lose weight! Just bordered the cookbook :) Thanks for the code, and glad I found your blog thru Pinterest!

    • says

      Yes, totally my situation too, Gail (wanting to lose weight). I’m finding the recipes to be a great help, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy the cookbook. Stay tuned because I’m going to be featuring another recipe from another diabetic cookbook (called “Healthy Calendar”) — that should be going up on September 23. Thank you for visiting and commenting! :)

  3. says

    My bestie ended up with gestational diabetes a few years ago. She had to make a lot of changes. She always says the diet is pretty much how people should eat. I think she’s right from what I’ve seen her eat. It’s fairly similar to the WW diet too. I need to start watching my diet a little more closely. I eat like an 8 year old, on vacation, in a candy store, with no adults to supervise. Terrible.

    I love these cannoli cups. I’ve done phyllo with peaches in them. So good.


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