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Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake

Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake. There’s no mixer required for this easy and delicious cake. It has all the cannoli flavors you love… it’s rich with ricotta, chocolate chips, pistachios and has just a hint of orange. You’ll love that there’s no waiting for anything to come to room temperature. All you need is a couple of bowls, a whisk and a spoon and you are off and running!

Some might say that all roads on this blog lead to cannoli. It wouldn’t be true in this case, though I do love the whole idea of cannoli. I mean, sweetened ricotta, chocolate chips, pistachios, cherries…even orange? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes to all!

Of course, I have no traditional cannoli post, now do I? No perfect shells to fill here.

Nope. Just my repeated attempts to bring cannoli flavors to the table in the easiest ways possible.

That means when you need a no bake option…I offer you No Bake Cannoli Ice Box Cupcakes. Those have sweet ricotta and chocolate chip filling, layered between delicious vanilla wafers. (Unfortunately,Trader Joe’s totally changed their vanilla wafer offering (the cookies I used in the post) to something I don’t like at all, but you can still use the traditional ‘nilla wafers we all know.)

Overhead view of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake with small bowls of pistachios, mini chocolate chips and powdered sugar by The Merchant Baker

Or, it means if you are absolutely wanting a scone, you might go with Chocolate Chip Ricotta Cannoli Scones.

Ask me how much I love those scones! They turned out soooooo good! Huge hit over here. I never thought I’d be so excited about a cherry on top of my scone. The flavor was just perfect! The ricotta cheese was a perfect replacement for heavy cream. And, I have found, that I am a big fan of chocolate chips in a scone. (I know. Shocking revelation ;)

Then, last Christmas, I made Chocolate Chip Cannoli Pie. Holy cannoli! That was a great pie! For that one, I added a bit of cinnamon to the pie crust to mimic the taste of a cannoli shell.

I took it to a holiday gathering and set it amongst the vast dessert assortment. Later that evening, someone found me and asked, “What kind of pie did you make? Everyone who’s eating it loves it, but wants to know what it is!”

When I told them it was a cannoli pie, they all said, ah…yes…that makes sense! I can taste all the flavors!

Side view of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake on a cake stand by The Merchant Baker

So, my friends, here we are again, tripping the light fantastic through cannoli land, but this time with a cake, a breakfast cake, to be exact.

This recipe is based on this Raspberry Ricotta Cake from Epicurious. I had printed it out to make one day and ran out of time, so my daughter stepped in to help out. As soon as I had a bite of that cake, I wrote a note to try it as a cannoli cake.

So for me, that meant chocolate chips, pistachio, a little cherry and a little orange. I thought about adding cinnamon, but thought it might be one flavor too many, and I really wanted to add the orange zest for something different.

I’m calling it a breakfast cake because it’s a pretty simple; it’s not the whole cannoli layer cake deal. (Btw, I meant to post that kind of cake awhile back, but it was my birthday cake :) And, while it was deee-licious and all, I just never quite got around to re-creating it for you. Someday, I will, though. I’d like to make it to round out this whole cannoli category.)

This won’t be the first breakfast cake I’ve posted that contained ricotta. Check out my Lemon Ricotta Crumb Cake, if you love the whole lemon ricotta thing.

Or, my Lemon Ricotta Poppy Seed Scones…if you love the whole lemon poppy seed thing. And, of course, try them if you’re a fan of my scones… ;)

Overhead view of bowls with dry ingredients and wet ingredients for Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

Okay. Back to the cake. It couldn’t be easier. Really. You don’t even need a mixer. You don’t have to wait for eggs or butter to come to room temperature. I love that. It’s like cake on demand :)

This is your typical whisk the dry ingredients, whisk the wet ingredients, fold them together along with your additions. That’s it. It’s pretty much as easy as making pancakes

How to Make Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake

The dry ingredients are typical…flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. That’s one bowl.

In the other bowl, whisk up your eggs, ricotta, vanilla and orange zest. Fold the dry into the wet, just until barely combined.

Pouring butter into cake batter for Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

After that’s all mixed up, THEN you whisk in the melted butter. Yep, that step comes AFTER all the other dry and wet ingredients are mixed.

Now, we’re ready for mixins….Really, anything goes. You can add and subtract at will here.

In addition to the orange zest, I added pistachios, cherries and mini chocolate chips.

I did struggle a bit with how much of each I wanted to add and whether or not I wanted them in the cake, on the cake or both. And, did I want it chock full or just hints of this and that?

Overhead view of mixing up batter and fillings for Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

As you can see, I decided to put them in the batter and on the top. I think that was a good idea. I liked the additional texture in the cake as well as on the top.

Triple overhead view of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake with unbaked batter in pan, unbaked batter in pan with cherries, pistachios and chocolate chips and a close up overhead view by The Merchant Baker

Can I adjust the flavors and amounts of each mix in?

Now, as far as how much of each I added, this was my rationale. This will help you decide if you’d like to follow my lead or take off on your own path:

  1. I decided that too much chocolate would over power the cake. I think the amount I used was just enough to give you that bit of chocolate here and there without becoming all about the chocolate.
  2. For the zest, I often go heavier than I did here. In my Orange Olive Oil Cake, that orange flavor is right there, front and center. But again, I didn’t want to turn this into an orange cake. So, I just used the zest of 1/2 an orange or a lightly measured teaspoon. I think it was perfect.
  3. I love pistachios. I could have added more and been very happy. They are just here and there sprinkled through the cake. Again, the cake wasn’t supposed to be all about the nuts. So, I went light and lovely with them. I may add more next time anyway, just because I love them and I don’t think they would compromise the cake at all.
  4. As for the cherries, here’s the deal. Whenever I use cherries, like in the cannoli scones, I always feel like I could use more. Clearly I should make a cherry cake or cherry something. Cherries are hardly a main focus of cannoli and often aren’t even used except to grace the occasional crown of whipped cream. However, I love that hit of cherry flavor, so I kept them in, restrained myself from increasing the amount, but actually wished for more.
Taking a serving slice out of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

I don’t think I added any orange when I made the cannoli pie, and I didn’t add pistachios when I made the no bake cannoli cupcakes. I decided to throw some orange in this time for freshness. It was a good idea and it made for something slightly different in flavor than my other cannoli creations.

You could also throw in a pinch of cinnamon, but I didn’t. I sort of subbed in the orange and skipped the cinnamon. Maybe I’ll grate a little nutmeg in next time. That could be delish.

With all this talk of options and amounts, I don’t want to confuse you with all the different choices; what I’m trying to say is that, “This cake is infinitely flexible for any flavor you want to add!”

Side view of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

Other ways to use this as a master recipe for other flavors…

So…. you could just as easily add a good amount of lemon zest and some poppy seeds instead of the pistachios, chocolate chips, orange zest, etc. and end up with a wonderful lemon cake.

I think I’m going to try it as a cherry almond cake…maybe with chocolate chips, maybe without. Then, I’ll go a little crazier with the cherries and be quite happy about it.

Options, my friends, options. For the cannoli cake, pick the cannoli flavors you love and add them. It’s all gonna be good.

Overhead view of a slice of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake next to bowls of pistachios and chocolate chips by The Merchant Baker

Final Topping Options for Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake

Once it’s baked, you can serve it as is. After all, it has all of those toppings baked prettily right into the top. It’s basically dressed and ready to go.

However, I thought a dusting of powdered sugar would be rather festive. I am a sucker for a dusting of powdered sugar. Yep…I think this cake could be a great addition to a holiday breakfast or brunch menu. Of course, it’s also great smack dab in the middle of October, when yours truly made it :)

Sticking a fork into a slice of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

It’s also nice with a dollop of whipped cream. I don’t have any photos for that, but I will tell you that my family broke out the red can of whipped cream for their serving on day 2. (“Whipped cream on demand” for our “Cake on demand” :)

Not that we don’t do fresh whipped cream around here…but if that carton of heavy cream isn’t open, my family knows we’re not breaking into it to use a small amount unless I’ve got plans to use the rest for scones or something. Waste not, want not.

So, if I was planning to serve it with whipped cream that I was whipping myself, I think that might be a nice place to add that hit of cinnamon we talked about earlier…Or, if you had some cherry liqueur hanging around, that could be a fun way to add some flavor to your whipped cream….

In any case, the cake is moist and rich from the ricotta. The pistachios add a soft nut texture, while the cherries add a sweet, juicy texture. Then you hit the mini chocolate chips for a little chocolate fix. And if you happen to get a cherry in that bite with the chocolate, then you have the whole chocolate cherry thing going on…The orange flavor sits in the background but is present throughout.

Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake lives up to its name. And, at least for today, all roads lead to cannoli. Or, maybe all roads lead to ricotta.

Slice of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake with a bite on a fork by The Merchant Baker

Either way, all roads lead to yum! :)

Taking a serving slice out of Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake by The Merchant Baker

Easy Cannoli Breakfast Cake

Yield: 9" cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 seconds
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes 50 seconds

No mixer is required for this easy cannoli breakfast cake. It is rich with ricotta cheese, has a hint of orange and is filled and topped with mini chocolate chips, pistachios and sweet cherries.


  • For the cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest from 1/2 an orange (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup frozen, pitted sweet cherries, cut in half
  • 3 Tablespoons mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup frozen, pitted sweet cherries, cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped pistachios
  • For serving:
  • Confectioner's sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9" round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment and very lightly coat the parchment with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, ricotta, vanilla and orange zest until thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour the ricotta mixture into the flour mixture and fold together just until blended.
  5. Pour the cooled, melted butter into the batter and fold until combined.
  6. Add 1/2 cup cherries, and the 3 Tablespoons each of chocolate chips and pistachios. Fold together just until evenly distributed in batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Top with remaining cherries, chocolate chips and pistachios.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  9. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and place on rack to finish cooling.
  10. Serve plain or dusted with confectioner's sugar.
  11. Store cooled cake tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days.


*If you use table salt instead of kosher salt, use a pinch more table salt.

*If you use salted butter, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon instead of 3/4 teaspoon.

*The amounts of cherries, chocolate and nuts are just enough to lightly fill and top the cake. You can increase the amounts as desired.

*I used full fat ricotta. When measuring the ricotta, stir it up to break it up and aerate it a bit before placing into the measuring cup.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

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Cyndi B

Monday 4th of November 2019

This looks great! A perfect holiday recipe. I am really excited to make this. Thanks for posting.


Tuesday 5th of November 2019

Hey Cyndi! When I first made it, I made the original raspberry version and thought of your raspberry almond cake because it looked similar even though taste and texture are different. I love how easy it comes together. It's a fun one to experiment with different flavors and add ins. I think you'll like it!

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