Italian Holiday Classic: Pizzelles
I've always been a huge fan of pizzelles. These delicate waffle-like cookies come in many flavors but my preference is for the traditional anise flavor. I had never made pizzelles until about 10 years ago. Around the holidays, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publishes several articles in the food section devoted to holiday baked goods. I look forward to seeing the recipes and I've often found some really, really good recipes which have become favorites in my family. I came across a recipe for traditional Italian pizzelles and decided to give it a try. The cookies are delicious and easy to make but you will need a pizzelle iron. Oh, for best results you will also need two days for this recipe. Two days?? This is quick?? Yes!! Read on and you will see what I mean!
As I said, I found this recipe in the local newspaper. That's my copy to the right. The recipe as written calls for ONE DOZEN EGGS!!! That's if you want 10 to 12 DOZEN cookies. That's a lot of pizzelles! I always make a 1/2 batch of pizzelles. In order to avoid making mistakes in measuring, I wrote the amounts needed for a 1/2 batch on my copy of the recipe. In addition to eggs, these cookies call for sugar, melted Crisco sticks, AP flour, salt and either anise extract or anise oil. I also like to add fennel seed to the batter to boost the anise flavor.
Mixing the batter is easy. Now, this is important. For best results, you need to mix the batter and then refrigerate it covered for about 24 hours. Why the long rest after mixing? I read somewhere (can't remember where!) that resting the batter 24 hours allows the gluten in the AP flour to strengthen. If you bake your pizzelles immediately after mixing, the cookies will be full of holes and cracks and will fall apart. I have not tested this theory myself but given my experience with gluten in bread dough, it makes sense. I can tell you that I have always let the dough rest for 24 hours and my cookies always turn out perfect. Here's my batter after its 24 hour rest, ready to go!
I have an electric pizzelle iron which makes two cookies at a time. Prepare the iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Mine needs a quick spritz of PAM at the start of baking. After the iron is heated, drop a teaspoonful of batter onto each grid and close the lid. 26 seconds is all it takes for the baking to be complete.
After 26 seconds, lift the lid to reveal two pretty pizzelles! Using a silicone spatula, lift the cookies from the iron to a plate. Take care, the cookies are very soft and pliable. Repeat the process by dropping two more scoops of batter onto the iron and closing the lid.
Transfer the cookies to paper towels to cool completely. The pizzelles firm up quickly as they cool.
That's it! Keep going until you have used all of the batter. I let the cookies sit out on the paper towels for a couple of hours before storing them in a plastic bag.
Do you like pizzelles? Maybe you have a family recipe that you would be willing to share? I would love to hear from you! Enjoy these cookies, dear friends! Happy holiday baking!