Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pass the Pizzelle, Please

I'm sure I've said it before, but the part I love best about the holidays now is blending the traditions Keith and I grew up with, and making some new ones with Bert. When it comes to baking Christmas cookies, we each picked a few of our favorites to make: peanut butter kiss cookies (some people call them peanut butter blossoms), snowballs (or Russian teacakes), chocolate cream cheese cupcakes. And this year, we got to add one that is traditional for my family, and goes way back: pizzelle. They are a light, buttery, sugary, waffle-life cookie made on a special pizzelle iron.

Not having one of these irons, it would have been a little tough to carry on this Italian tradition. But this year for my birthday, my grandparents gave me one and I've been itching to make some since then. I guess I could have made them in the summer, but eating these snowflake-like cookies then just wouldn't have seemed right.

So, we waited until this weekend to pull out the pizzelle iron and make our first batch, using my grandpop's recipe.


6 medium eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons anise extract (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, add sugar gradually, beat until smooth. Add cooled, melted butter. Stir in anise extract. (We used about 2 teaspoons of vanilla instead.) Stir together flour and baking powder; add to egg mixture and mix until smooth.

Heat pizzelle iron. Drop batter, about one tablespoon, in center of heated grid. Check for doneness after about 30 seconds (time will be particular to your iron!). Life with fork. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

My grandpop advised having two people to do this: one to run the iron and move the pizzelle to a cookie sheet to cool, the other to sprinkle with powdered sugar and stack them in a can. They cool in seconds so it can be a pretty quick process. Especially if your brand-new pizzelle iron cooks them in under 15 seconds, not allowing you the anticipated 30 for sprinkling and stacking. It took us a little bit, but by the end we had a pretty good system going. It looked a little like this:

Our first  couple rounds on the iron got a little dark before we got the timing right. And by then, it was all hands on deck so I don't have any pictures of our more perfect pizzelle. No worries though, these taste just fine.

My grandparents even gave us a large coffee can, which is the perfect size for storing them. But you need two cans to hold a whole batch, so we found this plastic bucket to hold the rest. We've also been sharing them with some of the neighbors and they are a bit of a novelty around here.

We have an idea about making little ice cream cones with the pizzelle iron because you can roll the pizzelle when they are still warm, so we just might break it out in the summer after all.

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