This delicious snake cake is inspired by the Moroccan dessert, M’hanncha. Made with rich ricotta, cream cheese, phyllo dough, chocolate, and crunchy pistachios, this dessert pastry cake is an absolute must-make. Named after its coiled shape, this cake is light, easy-to-make, and comes together so quickly. This recipe swaps the traditional almond for a creamy cannoli filling, with flecks of dark chocolate and a hint of nutmeg, resulting in a gorgeous, crispy spiral with a mouthwatering filling. The best part is that it takes less than an hour to make from start to finish and is always a crowd pleaser!
9-10 sheets of phyllo dough
1/2 cup melted butter
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, drained overnight
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate, or ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Chopped pistachios for garnishing
01Pull the cheeses and the phyllo out to come to room temperature, melt your butter, chop your chocolate and pistachios, and gather all the other things and tools you will need.
02To make the filling, using a rubber spatula, mix the cream cheese and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar until very smooth. Add the ricotta, vanilla, nutmeg, salt and chocolate to your bowl, and mix until combined.
03Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment, you can spray the pan with oil to prevent the tart sticking to the pan.
04To make the cake, place one sheet of phyllo dough on a clean dry surface, vertically oriented (think portrait, not landscape). Use a pastry brush to coat the phyllo completely with a thin layer of melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo next to the first sheet, overlapping their edges by two inches. Coat this sheet with another thin layer of butter. Repeat this with a third sheet of phyllo.
05Using a spoon, scoop teaspoon-sized amounts of the cannoli filling onto the buttered phyllo sheets, about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom, and leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space on either side. You should use 1/3 of the cannoli filling. Using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread the dollops of filling into an even line. Carefully fold the bottom edge of the phyllo over the strip of filling and roll the dough with the filling inside, like a cigar. Work slowly and gently to avoid ripping the delicate phyllo dough.
06At this point you should have a 2-ish-foot-long, 1-inch-wide tube. Pinch the ends closed, adding more butter if needed, and fold them under the dough to seal it shut. Roll the tube into a loose spiral and use a spatula to transfer it to your prepared baking sheet.
07Repeat this process of making the cake two more times, adding each tube onto the outside of the first dough spiral. Repair any cracks with an extra piece of phyllo dough brushed with butter.
08Brush a final layer of butter all over the outside of the tart. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
09Let the tart cool for at least ten minutes, then dust with the powdered sugar, scatter the chopped pistachios all over the top, slice, and enjoy!