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This is a traditional christmas speciality in our home. Manicotti is a labor of love. These are light and airy and they're "melt in your mouth good"; worth every second of the time it takes to prepare. If you use this as a first course, I calculate approximately 2 per person; as the main course with a salad, 4 per person would do nicely.
- You are making a simple batter; resembling a crepe or pancake batter; consistancy is thin.
- In a blender mix all the ingredients.
- Heat a 5 to 6-inch skillet on medium heat on the stovetop; about 5 minutes.
- Pour 1/3 cup batter into the hot pan and swish the batter around very quickly, covering the bottom of the pan completely; 30 seconds.
- Aim for a thin, constant shell that covers the entire pan.
- Until the pan gets properly seasoned, you may lose one or two shells.
- If this happens, scrape the shell out, do not wet or rinse the pan.
- Return it to the heat and as the pan reheats, the bits stuck to the pan will dry out and can be brushed away.
- Success results as you go further along repeating the process.
- The shell is done when the sides curl away from the sides of the pan; some tiny bubbles may form on top, less than 1 minute.
- The shell will be light in color and pliable.
- Gently lift shell out of the pan with your fingers by pulling the shell away from the sides of the pan and transfer quickly onto wax paper.
- Cover with clean tea towel until ready to fill.
- This process goes very quickly.
- Depending on the size of the pans you use, this recipe makes about 50- 60 shells.
- Filling:In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and beat with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy- 3 minutes.
- Fill the shell with 1 rounded Tablespoon of cheese filling into the center of the round shell.
- Fold both ends into the middle and gently flatten out the filling.
- Place shell folded side down into roasting pan or cookie sheet which has been coated with tomato sauce.
- Top the shells with tomato sauce before cooking.
- Only one layer of shells to a pan.
- (I do these on a cookie sheet 1" high and get approximately 30 manicotti to a sheet).
- These can be frozen in this state at this point and made in advance, or Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and baked for 35-45 minutes or until the cheese has set and shells are firm to the touch.