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When I fry cannoli shells, I find that about a quarter of them -- apparently at random -- stick to their molds so that they are hard or impossible to remove without breaking.

The two tactics I use to combat this -- which do make a difference, but not 100% -- are to spray the molds fairly heavily with vegetable oil before wrapping the sheets, and to wrap loosely. I don't roll the sheet tightly around the mold.

When unmolding, I've found it best to wait until the shells are completely cool. Then, for the ones that stick, gripping the shell (as firmly as possible without immediately shattering it) and gently twisting either it or the mold often helps it break free. Sometimes the shell is damaged in the process, though, and sometimes it won't come off at all without being smashed.

The dough is made with vegetable shortening (lard isn't an option, unfortunately: they need to be vegetarian), all-purpose flour, wine, and sugar, and rolled out to translucency on a pasta machine. I'm extremely happy with the product, but I'm open to changing the formulation if evidence suggests that e.g., there's too much moisture. (Although on that point, I've tried making the dough as dry as possible while still coming together, and it didn't seem to have an effect.)

What other possibilities am I missing? What can I do to make unmolding more reliable?

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    I don't make these, but the most similar thing I do make ("rosette" cookies fried on a mold) suggest possibly preheating the mold in the fryer, and unmolding hot (even though your experience is unmolding cold is better) - when unmolding hot, there's a little flexibility left in the fried product - once cold, it's brittle. This recipe/method does not preheat, but does unmold hot: foodnetwork.com/recipes/alexandra-guarnaschelli/… – Ecnerwal Mar 25 '15 at 2:13
  • Thanks for the info, @Ecnerwal; I can't see myself trying to wrap the dough around a hot mold, but I will definitely take a look at that article. – jscs Mar 31 '15 at 8:19
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Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. I've found that simply increasing the amount of oil on the molds makes the shells slip off cleanly every time.

There needs to be a visibly thick layer of oil on the parts of the mold that the sheet touches. I've taken to using pourable vegetable (canola) oil rather than spray. I have the molds in a pan, pour the oil over them, and then take care to roll each mold in the oil to coat it thoroughly before wrapping a sheet around it.

It's surprising to me that so much oil is required when the thing is about to be submerged in oil, but it does make a considerable difference, and doesn't seem to affect the texture of the shell.

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I have found rubbing with butter works well,have tried cooking spray they still stick. As always said everthing is better with butter.

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