Product Review: Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli Shells

Product: Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli Shells – $15.99+

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Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli Shells

So, one of my roommate’s favorite desserts is cannoli.  She can indulge quite a bit when we go out to Italian places that offer it as a dessert…but it is a very rare treat for me.  Gluten free cannoli is just…not often found.  Sweet ‘N Savory Food Truck did it once during Cluster Trucked…and I had one at Da Luciano in Chicago the night before the Chicago Marathon…but otherwise, I’m normally not able to partake in this classic Italian pastry dessert.

Which is too bad.  Because I’m the one who introduced this amazing treat to my roommate, prior to the Celiac diagnosis.

But, over the New Year holiday, my roommate, my friend Jenn, and I all ventured out to Jungle Jim’s International Market, and went on a small, tightly budgeted shopping excursion.  Because…it’s sort of become a tradition.  We wound our way through the store, finally reaching my favorite destination…the gluten-free aisles.

YAY!  Let my shopping begin.

And…breaking the budget bank happened almost immediately when my roommate spotted a big yellow box on the top shelf of the first row…

GLUTEN. FREE. CANNOLI. SHELLS.

Oh hell yes.  So…with most of the budget gone for this high ticket…the shopping got a little more picky.  But I was elated…because I had gluten free cannoli shells in my basket and could easily pick up Kite Hill ricotta to make a vegan cannoli filling.

The brand was Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet.  Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet came about from Neil Russo, a professional chef who was hard at work on gluten-free recipes, which he was striving to perfect after hearing about the many people connected to himself that were having a hard time finding food while on a gluten-free diet due to intolerance or Celiac disease.  After experimenting on his Italian bread loaves and Tiramisu, Russo was ready to give his food to the world.  He first introduced the gluten free food in his restaurant, where he got high praise.  Soon, he opened up Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet.  And from there…the frozen versions of some of the classic Italian foods he perfected in gluten-free form.  So good, that people even would ask if he was certain it was gluten free.  All of Russo’s products are prepared in a strictly gluten-free facility.

We decided to do it on our least favorite “holiday”…Valentine’s Day.  And with all that in mind, after a quick jaunt out to the grocery store before the weather hit yesterday…I prepped the filling and made dinner (Smokey Zucchini Cakes with a Vegan Lemon Cream Sauce) and, afterwards, went to fill a cannoli shell for each of us.

I pulled the box of Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli Shells down from the top shelf of the pantry and went to work.  The shells looked amazing.  Golden and crisp…they weren’t broken, which was my main concern to be honest.  I was terrified they would be these fragile little rolls…but they held their own for sure. I put some of my vegan ricotta cannoli filling into a piping bag and piped it into each of the shells I had removed for us.  I passed one off to my roomie and then went to get mine.  She was already diving in.

And that’s when I knew…this was not going to live up to the expectations I had built up in my mind. Nope.  I was just finishing up filling mine and I look up and cautiously ask…”How is it?”

“The filling is delicious.  The shell…”  When her voice trails off…I know.  I know it can’t be  good.  “…is nothing special.”

Hmmm.  So, I settled in, wine glass in one hand, cannoli in the other.  And take a bite.  Or, at least I attempted to.  This gorgeously constructed, perfectly golden, durable gluten free cannoli shell is…solid.  It was the hardest thing to actually bite into.  It was crispy alright…to the point I was almost concerned about chipping a tooth.  And…trust me…these were marked as good through April…so they weren’t over their best by date.  UGH.  But, I was determined to have my cannoli, dammit.  It was Valentine’s Day.  I owed myself that much.  I finally managed to bite through it and then loud crunching ensued.  It was…really flavorless.  Didn’t taste like much.  Tough as bricks (literally).  And heartbreakingly disappointing.  I had this grand image of devouring cannoli on Valentine’s Day…just me, my wine, and my dessert smorgasbord (I had vegan and gluten free cookie dough from Annie May’s Sweet Cafe as well).  And here I was, with sub-par, tough-as-a-rock, cannoli shells.  UGH.  They were really too tough to eat.  My roommate and I persevered, said a prayer for our teeth…and then today, decided not to risk it again…and tossed them out.  I hate when expensive gluten-free products don’t live up to their price tag.  I wouldn’t pay $5.00 for these, and here I payed $16.  Just to trash them.  Since my filling was awesome, I did dig out my gluten-free cinnamon graham crackers and made up a new recipes…that was much easier to eat and much kinder to my teeth.

Sorry, Russo’s.  Your other products have been good…but these…were horrible.  And I was not impressed.  In fact, I was beyond let down and a little angry I paid that much for a product I didn’t enjoy.  Not even a bit.

Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli shells are not made of cement, as you might make yourself believe if you ever tried to bite into one.  In fact, these dessert vehicles are made from rice flour, corn starch, tapioca dextrin, xanthan gum, rice extract, water, marsala, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.

As for nutrition, I believe you will burn more calories than you consume just trying to gnaw through these, but with that being said, a serving of Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli Shells is 1 shell and there are 6 shells in the box.  This serving will give you 70 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 14 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, 1 gram protein.

When people conjure up an idea in their mind of what gluten-free foods taste like (cardboard, tasteless, etc)…this would definitely not convince them otherwise.  It has been awhile since I’ve actually been disappointed with a product.  And I am beyond disappointed with Russo’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cannoli Shells.  Take my advice…don’t spend your money on these.  Your craving for cannoli is not worth the letdown you will endure if you decide to break the bank and try these.  It’s not worth it.  Trust me.

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