Pizzelle – Italian Waffle Cookies
I have a huge soft spot in my heart for pizzelle. Growing up, it was extremely rare to walk into my grandma’s house and not find a large tin of pizzelles waiting to be eaten (they were usually sitting right next to the huge tin of biscotti that were also a staple in her house). My grandma doesn’t get to cook and bake as much as she used to, so I don’t feast on Italian baked goods quite as often anymore. I do try to bake biscotti on a fairly regular basis, but I have only made pizzelle a couple of times, always around the holidays.
I had just been thinking about how I was craving a good pizzelle when I went with my Chief Culinary Consultant to visit his Nana and she showed us a book she had received – Always on Sunday – which is about growing up Italian. The author is based in Pittsburgh, but it’s a wonderful book for anyone who is Italian and shared family traditions, no matter where you grew up. We started leafing through it and found a number of delicious-sounding recipes in the back of the book. There was a recipe for pizzelle so I scribbled it down on a notepad and less than two days later I had my pizzelle iron out and ready to go!
For those that are not familiar, pizzelle are traditional Italian waffle cookies made from flour, eggs, sugar, some type of fat (butter, shortening or oil), and flavorings (the most popular are vanilla and anise). I have had many different pizzelles and depending on the ratio of ingredients you can get them paper thin and crispy, thick and soft, or any variation in between. This recipe (and my personal preference) is for pizzelle that are about in the middle in terms of thickness and have a nice crunch, but don’t crumble apart when you bite into them.
Notes on the recipe:
♦ You do need a pizzelle iron to make these, but they are fairly inexpensive. You can find many varieties on Amazon, as well as at stores such Bed Bath & Beyond and local Italian groceries (which is where mine came from).
♦ If your pizzelle iron is stainless steel, you will want to spray it lightly with Pam (or whatever oil spray you prefer) before you start. I find that one spray in the beginning is sufficient since the fat from the recipe usually will act as a non-stick agent as well.
♦ I find that when I drop the batter onto the iron, putting it slightly above the center of the circle ensures that the batter spreads the whole way to the back of the mold. For some reason if I drop it exactly in the center the back of the cookie doesn’t get fully molded (you can see this in the bottom right picture above).
♦ You can do many different things with pizzelle – different flavorings, roll them while still warm and fill with cannoli filling, or sandwich two between chocolate ganache or your favorite icing. I have even been known to eat a pizzelle with peanut butter spread on top. The possibilities are endless!
1 cup butter, melted
1½ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon anise extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1. Beat the eggs on medium speed until pale and thick.
2. Add the melted butter and mix until thoroughly combined. With the mixer still running, add the sugar and mix until combined.
3. Add the extracts and continue to mix.
4. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until combined.
5. Preheat the pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer's directions. When ready, drop batter by heaping tablespoon onto iron, close, and hold closed for as long as the manufacturer states.
6. When ready, open iron and remove pizzelle with a rubber spatula. Repeat until all batter is used.
Storing: Pizzelle can be stored in either an airtight container or cookie tin. I can't tell you how long they last because I have never heard of pizzelle going bad!