Italian Cannoli Poke Cake

No need to run to an Italian bakery when you can make this decadent Italian cannoli poke cake at home. Creamy condensed milk keeps the cake deliciously moist. A fantastic mascarpone ricotta icing and generous topping of chocolate chips finishes this cannoli poke off. The result is a delicious Italian style treat you can make as a dessert that everyone you serve it to will adore.

I love a good cannoli. That creamy rich filling is so good, I could just eat it all day long. I almost never make cannoli at home though.

It’s a bit difficult to find cannoli shells. Plus, making cannolis is generally more fussing than I want to do especially this time of year with all the extra hustle and bustle.

This Italian cannoli poke cake has all the flavors of the classic Italian dessert, but with less work.

Plus this delightfully decadent cake serves a crowd with no extra effort whatsoever. It’s the perfect addition to a holiday dessert table.

What is a cannoli anyway?

Cannoli are Sicilian pastries that are very popular dessert items in Italian restaurants. Basically they are little mini cheesecakes in a crunchy pastry shell.

Only unlike American cheesecake, cannoli filling has ricotta and mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese.

Mascarpone is an Italian style cream cheese that doesn’t have the tang of American cream cheese. It’s extra silky and creamy.

Unlike other cheesecakes, the filling in cannolis isn’t baked or cooked so there is no egg. It’s just a delicious mixture of the cheeses, vanilla, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar.

In short, it’s absolute perfection. I used that filling to inspire the icing this cake gets slathered in.

How to Make Cannoli Poke Cake

While with some of my other poke cake recipes I take shortcuts and use a box mix, here the cake is totally homemade. Trust me when I say the resulting cake with its delicate crumb and moist texture is worth the bit of extra effort.

To make this cannoli cake, start by creaming together butter, shortening, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then add in one egg yolk at a time until all 5 of them get incorporated into the mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and baking soda. Alternate between adding flour and the buttermilk mixture into the stand mixer a little at a time.

Make sure you start and end with the flour. Now you can fold in the vanilla and your egg whites that you have beaten to soft peaks.

Now you can pour the batter into a greased 13×9 baking pan and bake at 325 for about half an hour.

Once the cake is baked through, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Let it cool completely, so ideally somewhere away from the still hot oven.

With the back of a wooden spoon, poke holes evenly throughout the cake. Pour half of the condensed milk evenly over the cake and then put the cake in the fridge for an hour so that it sets some.

There’s no jello or gelatin in this poke cake recipe, especially since we’re going for a more authentic cannoli flavor profile. So don’t expect the condensed milk to completely firm up.

When the cake is done setting, combine the ricotta, mascarpone, vanilla, and the rest of the condensed milk into a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until velvety smooth.

Then add in your powdered sugar and beat again until the frosting is smooth. Spread the frosting out evenly over top of the cake.

Finish by sprinkling on mini chocolate chips and a dusting of powdered sugar. Then dig in!

Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Cannoli Poke Cake

While making cannoli poke cake is pretty easy, follow these suggestions for the best success:

  • Don’t add the eggs into the batter whole. Take the time to separate the eggs and beat the whites. The whites will add lift to the cake making it light despite all the rich ingredients.
  • Allow your cake to cool thoroughly prior to poking holes in the cake. The cake will collapse around the holes if you poke holes in it before it has cooled.
  • Don’t skip letting the cake set in the fridge prior to frosting. The cake needs time to firm slightly.
  • If the frosting is too thin, you can add a bit more powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency.

Other Italian Inspired Dessert Recipes To Try

This Italian cannoli poke cake is a hit for dessert at any gathering! Make it this holiday season as a delightful alternative to cookies and pies and wait for your guests to rave.

If you are looking for other Italian inspired desserts try these:

If you’ve tried this ITALIAN CANNOLI POKE CAKE, or any other recipe on the site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTERESTFACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!

Italian Cannoli-Style Poke Cake

This Italian cannoli poke cake is a hit for dessert at any gathering! Skip making cannoli shells, and transform the traditional Italian dessert into a rich & creamy cake instead.
4.58 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cake, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 290kcal


  • 1 stick of Butter softened
  • 1/2 a cup of Shortening
  • 2 cups of Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Soda
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 1 cup of Buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 5 beaten Egg Whites
  • 1 14 oz. can of Condensed Milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 cup of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Powdered Sugar


  • Start by creaming together butter, shortening, and sugar.
  • Add in egg YOLKS one at a time.
  • Mix together your buttermilk and soda in a separate bowl.
  • Add in flour and buttermilk mixer one after the other. Start and end with the flour.
  • Fold in vanilla and egg WHITES.
  • Bake in a greased 13x9 inch baking pan at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until baked through.
  • Let cool.
  • Using a utensil poke holes throughout the whole cake as shown.
  • Pour HALF of your condensed milk over the cake and refrigerate for one hour.
  • In a mixing bowl combine your Ricotta, Mascarpone, vanilla, and remaining condensed milk, until smooth.
  • Add in powdered sugar until smooth.
  • If frosting is not thick enough add in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.
  • Ice cake with Cannoli frosting.
  • Cover in chocolate chips and top with powdered sugar.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 141IU | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg
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