LITTLE ITALY — A Little Italy institution plans to mark this year’s San Gennaro Feast with an ambitious project: a 12-foot cannolo containing 50 pounds of chocolate chips.
Ferrara Bakery and Cafe at 195 Grand St. has been working on a giant-sized version of its cannoli, a Sicilian pastry made with a light, crispy shell filled with sweet cream, chocolate chips and citron, said Ernest Lepore, president of the cafe, whose family opened the business in 1892.
If all goes according to plan, he said, the bakery will have created the world’s largest cannolo, which is the singular form of cannoli.
“We always like the challenge and if we get to it and it breaks, it’s still fun trying,” he said, explaining that the festival’s organizers, the Figli de San Gennaro, approached the bakery with the idea.
According to Guinness World Records, the largest cannolo in the world weighed in at 123 pounds. Scott Wilkinson and Guilio Pistolesi from the Cake Bin Bakery in Newburgh, N.Y., set the record in August 2010, according to the record keeper’s website.
Ferrara’s pastry will likely weigh more, since Lepore plans to fill it with approximately 270 to 300 pounds of sweet cream and about 15 pounds of citron in addition to the 50 pounds of chocolate chips, he said.
The bakery has spent the last few weeks figuring out the logistics of the project, he said. The pastry shell’s is especially challenging, since it is so large.
To make it, the bakery is using a 12-foot dowel to wrap the dough around and a crane system it built to lower the shell into a large fryer in its New Jersey factory, where the restaurant makes shells for its regular- and mini-sized cannoli shells.
Lepore said he plans to make extra shells, which he’ll deliver to the Little Italy storefront for assembly, just in case one of them breaks.
“I need two extra shells in case I make a mistake,” Lepore said.
According to San Gennaro organizers, the cannolo will be unveiled on Sept. 20 at 3 p.m. in front of the bakery. Lepore said Ferrara’s will also hand out 2-inch mini cannoli to the public during the unveiling, as well as the day before in honor of the saint whom the festival celebrates.
Ferrara’s 12-foot cannolo is just one several attractions at the 88th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, which begins Thursday. The Italian heritage festival will include a 9/11 tribute, live music and more than 200 vendors. Mayor Bill de Blasio will act as the grand marshal of the feast’s procession on Saturday.
The Feast of San Gennaro starts on Sept. 11 and runs to Sept. 21 on Mulberry Street. The hours are 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. Visit the festival’s website for a complete schedule of events.