Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to Make Italian Pizzelle Cookies in 5 Easy Steps

pizzelle stacks

Pizzelles are Italian waffle-like cookies made from flour, sugar, eggs, and butter and typically flavored with anise or vanilla. The name pizzelle comes from the Italian pizze, meaning "flat" or "round."

Believed to be the oldest cookie in Italy, pizzelles have a unique history. According to legend, in 700 BCE, snakes had infested Abruzzo, in south central Italy, and after they were banished, the townspeople celebrated by eating pizzelle. To this day, pizzelles are eaten to celebrate the Festival of the Snakes, now known as the Feast Day of San Domenico.

Pizzelles were originally baked over open fire using irons that were embossed with a family or village crest. Today they are made using a pizzelle iron, which is similar to a waffle iron, but has an attractive floral pattern rather than a grid. Need a pizzelle iron? Click here for some resources or here for specific models. Don't forget to read the story about how I received my new pizzelle iron.

Makes 60 pizzelles.

This recipe makes a thicker, firmer pizzelle--my family's favorite.
Print recipe only here.

6 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (or 2) teaspoons anise seed**
1 tablespoon anise extract
4 tablespoons baking powder
7 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat pizzelle iron. Coat with cooking spray and wipe off excess with a paper towel. You do not have to re-apply.

Beat eggs and sugar. Add cooled melted butter, vanilla extract, anise seeds, and anise extract. Sift flour and baking powder in a bowl and add to the egg mixture. Beat for a few minutes, or until the batter becomes thick. It will have a dough-like consistency. Knead with your hands for a couple of minutes until dough is smooth and has a sheen. With your hands, roll into one-inch round balls and place in the center of the pizzelle iron grids. Close the cover of the iron and bake for about 45 seconds, or until golden brown. Remove from iron and place on a cookie rack to cool.

Dust with confectioner's before serving, if desired.

Pizzelles will last for a couple of weeks if stored in an air-tight container and kept in a cool area.

**The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon anise seed. However, I like a stronger anise flavor, so my dad put 2 teaspoons of anise seed and 1 tablespoon of anise flavoring. With all the flour in the recipe, it's not overwhelming, but put as much or little as you'd like.

Here's a step-by-step guide showing you how to make pizzelles.

adding anise extract to the mix

1. Mixing the ingredients. Here Dad is adding anise extract to the cooled melted butter, vanilla extract, and anise seed mixture.

Dad's mixing the pizzelle dough

2. After mixing the batter with an electric beater, knead the dough by hand until smooth.

rolling the pizzelle dough into a ball

3. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls.

Dad's placing the pizzelle dough on the iron

4. Place the dough balls on the center of each grid. Close the cover and bake for 45 seconds, or until golden brown. Note that every pizzelle iron is different and baking time can range from 35-70 seconds, so experiment with yours.

baked pizzelles on the iron

5. The finished pizzelles with be lightly golden brown. Remove from the grid immediately and allow to cool on a wire rack. Pizzelles will harden as they cool and will have a crisp, biscuit-like texture.

Dad's finished pizzelle

Pizzelle irons come in different beautiful designs though this simple flower pattern is most typical.

They will last for a couple of weeks if stored in an air-tight container and kept in a cool area.

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