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Cannoli Cheesecake

Creamy cannoli cheesecake inspired by the classic Italian dessert! This easy cheesecake recipe is finished with a sweet mascarpone topping made with ricotta, cinnamon, and mini chocolate chips.

For more Italian-inspired dessert ideas, try my easy cannoli cake and Italian cream cake recipes.

Creamy Italian-Inspired Cannoli Cheesecake

I love Italian cooking, especially when it comes to desserts. Every time I pass my local deli, I can’t resist treating myself to a fresh cream-filled cannoli. Now, I’ve turned my favorite pastry into a rich and tangy, irresistibly creamy cannoli cheesecake filled with chocolate and spice.

I make this cannoli cheesecake from moist sour cream cheesecake baked in a buttery Graham cracker crust. After a short stint in the refrigerator, the cheesecake is then layered with a sweet and fluffy mascarpone and ricotta topping spiced with cinnamon and filled with mini chocolate chips. Every bite of this decadent homemade cheesecake is better than the last!

A slice of cannoli cheesecake topped with a swirl of whipped cream on a white plate next to a fork, with the rest of the cheesecake in the background.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Cheesecake Recipe

If you love cannolis, you’re going to LOVE this cannoli cheesecake. It’s really as simple as that, but here are more reasons to be obsessed:

  • Rich and creamy. The filling for this baked cheesecake is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It’s moist, ultra-rich, and perfectly balances the sweetness and tanginess of the ingredients.
  • Cannoli-inspired flavor. This cannoli cheesecake has it all, right down to the ricotta and mascarpone cream, with plenty of chocolate and cinnamon throughout.
  • Impressive, yet easy. This cheesecake recipe may seem like it has a lot going on, but I promise, you’re going to astound yourself with your own baking skills. It’s easier than it looks, and tastes incredible!
The ingredients for the cannoli cheesecake filling.

Ingredients You’ll Need

So, what goes into a cannoli cheesecake? Besides a whole lot of delicious, you’ll need a few key ingredients. I outline these below. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card for the full amounts and recipe details.

  • Crust: For this cheesecake, we’ll prepare and par-bake a quick and easy graham cracker crust. I include the full ingredients and instructions in the recipe card.
  • Eggs: The cheesecake calls for 5 eggs in total (2 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks), to bind the ingredients and add richness and structure to the filling.
  • Heavy Cream, Cream Cheese, and Sugar: Together, these form the body of the cheesecake. Make sure to use the blocks of full-fat cream cheese and not the spreadable kind that comes in tubs.
  • Sour Cream: My secret to extra moisture whether I’m making cheesecake or a regular cake. In this recipe, sour cream yields an ultra-rich and tangy cheesecake filling.
  • Mini Chocolate Chips: You’ll stir these into the batter, for sweet pops of semi-sweet chocolate all throughout your cannoli cake.

For the Cannoli Topping

  • Mascarpone and Ricotta Cheese: This cheesecake topping mimics the filling inside a cannoli pastry, so fresh mascarpone and ricotta are a must! Both of these are soft cheeses with a mild flavor, found in most major supermarkets. If you can’t find mascarpone cheese, cream cheese will work in a pinch.
  • Powdered Sugar and Cinnamon: Powdered sugar, also called confectioner’s sugar, adds sweetness and structure to the topping, with a pinch of ground cinnamon for flavor. I also like to fold in additional mini chocolate chips.

How to Make Cannoli Cheesecake

This cannoli cheesecake looks fancy and tastes gourmet, but it’s really very easy to make (I promise!). First, we’ll ready a simple yet buttery and flavorful graham cracker crust. Get your oven preheating to 325ºF, and let’s get started:

  • Prepare the pie crust. You can make this using store-bought or homemade graham crackers. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor, then combine the fine crumbs with melted butter and the rest of the crust ingredients. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and par-bake the crust at 325ºF for 8-10 minutes.
  • Prepare a water bath. Next, you’ll lower the temperature of the oven to 250ºF and fill a large pan with about a half-inch of water. Place this into the oven to preheat.
  • Mix the cheesecake filling. Begin by whisking together the eggs and yolks, vanilla, and heavy cream. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese, followed by the sour cream. Gradually add the egg mixture, and lastly, fold in the chocolate chips. Transfer the filling to your prepared crust.
  • Bake. Before placing the cheesecake into your water bath, be sure to wrap the bottom of the springform pan with foil to keep the water out. Gently lower the pan into the water and then bake the cheesecake at 250ºF for about 65-75 minutes. 
  • Rest. When your cheesecake is set at the edges, switch off the oven. Leave the cheesecake in there with the door cracked for another hour or so. Allowing the cheesecake to cool down gradually is key to preventing cracks and sinking.
  • Chill. Once your cheesecake is out of the oven, remove the foil and use a knife to carefully loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Cover the cheesecake and place it in the fridge. You’ll want to let it chill for at least 6 hours, or overnight so that it completely sets.
  • Add the topping. Fast forward a few hours, and you’re ready to prepare the cannoli topping! Combine the mascarpone and ricotta with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Once smooth, stir in additional mini chocolate chips, and then spread the topping generously over the top of the chilled cheesecake.
Overhead view of cannoli cheesecake decorated with swirls of whipped cream and mini cannoli pastries.

Tips for Success

If you’re new to baking cheesecakes, the idea might seem intimidating. With a few helpful tips, though, you’re going to ace this cannoli cheesecake:

  • Use full-fat ingredients. Make sure to use full-fat heavy cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. This will yield the creamiest cheesecake filling.
  • Ricotta cheese and mascarpone can hold a lot of liquid. It varies, but if your cheeses are on the runny side, you’ll want to drain them first for the best results. Add the cheese to a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, place it over a bowl, and let it drain in the fridge overnight. If your store-bought cheese is dry enough, you can skip draining it.
  • If you forget to preheat your water bath in advance, no worries. You can skip that step by adding boiling water to your pan instead. 
  • Don’t open the oven door. Resist the temptation to sneak a peek at your cheesecake while it’s baking! After a little over an hour, it should be set at the edges while the middle is still a little wobbly. The filling will continue to set as the cheesecake cools.
  • Leave the cheesecake in the oven after it’s baked, with the door cracked for at least one hour. This prevents the top of the cheesecake from cracking (the result of sudden temperature changes).
  • Chill the cheesecake before adding the topping. Not only does this ensure that the cheesecake is cooled completely, but it also helps the filling to be fully set.
Cannoli cheesecake with a large slice missing on a round wooden platter.

Common Questions

Do I need to drain the ricotta cheese for the topping?

If you notice that your ricotta or mascarpone cheese has a lot of excess liquid, it will need to be drained before you add it to the topping. This ensures that your cannoli topping doesn’t turn out watery. In this case, allow the cheese to drain overnight. See my tip above for details.

How can I tell when the cheesecake is done?

Your cheesecake is baked when it’s lightly golden at the edges, with a slight jiggle in the center (it shouldn’t be loose or wet, though). Be careful that you don’t overbake it!

Why did the top of my cheesecake crack?

Cracking can sometimes happen if you don’t use a water bath, the cheesecake is overbaked, or if there’s a sudden change in temperature. The good news is, if the top cracks, you can always cover it with chocolate ganache or whipped cream and your cake will still be delicious.

Why did my cannoli topping turn out runny? 

If your mascarpone topping is watery, this could be because the cheeses were too wet before they were mixed with the other ingredients. See my notes above about draining.

A slice of cannoli cheesecake topped with a swirl of whipped cream on a white plate next to a fork.

Variations and Topping Ideas

I garnish my cannoli cheesecake with mini cannolis from my local bakery. Feel free to get creative! Here are some more easy ideas to try:

  • Whipped cream. I love piping swirls of whipped cream over the topping, in between the mini cannoli pastries. 
  • Chocolate ganache. You can even give the top of this cheesecake a drizzle with pourable ganache or homemade caramel sauce.
  • Other garnish options are shaved or chopped chocolate, fresh berries, chopped nuts or pistachios, maraschino cherries, and crumbled cookies (try these Italian ricotta cookies!). 
  • For an oven-free variation, try my no-bake cannoli cheesecake recipe.
A slice of cannoli cheesecake topped with a swirl of whipped cream on a white plate next to a fork.

How to Store Homemade Cheesecake

Store this cannoli cheesecake covered tightly in the fridge for 3-5 days. The graham cracker crust will start to soften a bit over time. 

Can I Freeze Cannoli Cheesecake?

I usually don’t recommend freezing homemade cheesecakes because the dairy tends to separate once it’s thawed, impacting the texture. However, if you absolutely must freeze it, make sure to wrap or store your cheesecake airtight. It’s best to thaw and enjoy within 1-2 months of freezing.

More Cheesecake Recipes to Try

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Overhead view of cannoli cheesecake decorated with swirls of whipped cream and mini cannoli pastries.

Cannoli Cheesecake

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chilling Time: 6 hours
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours 55 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Cheesecake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Baked cannoli cheesecake is an easy recipe inspired by the classic Italian dessert! This creamy homemade cheesecake is finished with a sweet mascarpone topping filled with cinnamon and mini chocolate chips.


Ingredients

Scale

Crust:

  • 16 full-sized graham crackers (or 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

Cheesecake:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 20 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Cannoli Topping:

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup low moisture ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Optional Garnish: Mini cannolis and/or whipped cream


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Crust: In a blender or food processor, pulverize your graham crackers into a fine crumb. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and melted butter until evenly combined.
  3. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  4. Bake the crust for 8 – 10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool.
  5. Cheesecake: Reduce oven temperature to 250°F.
  6. To prep your water bath, place a large pan filled with 1/2-inch water into the oven while you prepare the filling. You can skip this step by filling the pan with boiling water.
  7. In a medium bowl whisk together the 2 eggs, 3 yolks, vanilla, and heavy cream until combined. Set aside.
  8. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the cream cheese and sugar together until just combined. Add in the sour cream and mix on low for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  9. Turn the mixer up to medium and slowly add in the egg mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the mixture is combined, stir in the chocolate chips, and pour the filling into the graham cracker crust.
  10. Wrap the bottom of your springform pan in aluminum foil to prevent water from leaking into your pan. Place the cheesecake into the hot water bath and place in the oven for 65 – 75 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are set and the center is slightly loose. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and allow the cheesecake to remain in the oven for another 60 minutes.
  11. Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Remove the foil from the bottom of the pan and allow any excess water to drain. Run a knife around the sides of the crust to loosen it. Cover the cheesecake with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours, or overnight.
  12. Cannoli Topping: In a medium bowl mix together the mascarpone, ricotta, powdered sugar, and cinnamon until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  13. Spread the topping on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with mini cannoli and whipped cream if desired.

Keywords: cannoli cheesecake, cannoli cake, homemade cheesecake

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