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Cones simplify cannoli construction

Lately, ice cream cones have been on sale for less than $1.50. It got me thinking, what else can we do with these inexpensive, whimsical holders of happiness? Turns out, lots of things.

Bake ice cream cone cupcakes. Place a flat-bottomed cone in each well of a mini-muffin tin. Prepare a boxed cake mix and pour batter ¾ of the way up the cone. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. Decorate as desired.

Make individual servings of treats for kids. It’s perfect because every child gets their own portion, they eat the bowl so there’s no cleanup and it keeps their grubby little hands out of the communal candy dish. They’re great for trail mix, popcorn, pretzels, candies, fruit salad and crispy rice treats.

Who loves cannoli? Everyone. Who likes to make cannoli? People with extra time. This Italian classic literally means “little tube,” named for the deep-fried tube of pastry filled with sweetened and flavored ricotta cheese. The filling is easy to make. The fried pastry tubes, not so much. So, let’s take a shortcut by substituting waffle cones for the pastry.

ICE CREAM CONE CANNOLI

What you’ll need

1 32-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of one orange

1 10-ounce bag mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided

8 to 10 waffle cones

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate baking wafers, optional

Here’s how

For best results, drain the ricotta overnight. Place ricotta in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter, placed over a mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put a plate on top, weighted with a small can (like a tuna can) to press the liquid out.

Make the filling: Mix together ricotta, sugar, vanilla, salt and zest. Fold in ½ cup of the chocolate chips. Before you do, if you’re going to use a piping bag with a star tip to finish the cones (as pictured) remove about ¾ cup of the filling and set aside. The chips always get stuck in the tip and make us cranky. Place the filling in a zippered plastic bag and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, dip the cones in chocolate. It’s optional, but why wouldn’t you? Melt the chocolate wafers in a bowl just large enough to accommodate the top of the waffle cone. Dip the top of the cones and let the excess drip off. Let the chocolate begin to firm then roll the chocolate into some mini chocolate chips. If you have extra chocolate, drizzle some in the bottom of each cone.

To assemble: Cut the corner off the zippered bag and squeeze the filling dividing between the cones. If finishing with a piping bag; place the reserved filling sans chips in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Swirl the top of each cone. Sprinkle with mini chips. Serve immediately.

Stale cones? Feed the birds by spreading cones with peanut butter and rolling in birdseed.

If all else fails, buy ice cream.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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