A staple of my Christmas cookies is the Pizzelle. Pizzelle means small pizzas. Although these cookies don’t resemble the savory pizzas we are accustomed to, they are flat and they usually have a diamond pattern. You may have seen them shaped as circles and in different flavors. Growing up we only had one shape (rectangular) and one flavor (vanilla), so for me this all I need. You may also be more familiar with the electric Pizzelle irons which make the cooking part much quicker but they don’t always give me the taste and tradition that I grew up with. We only had the iron that was heated on the stove. It makes one cookie at a time, one side at a time. I still use my grandmother’s iron which is probably about 70 years old by now and it makes the best cookies.
Pizzelle cookies are light, crisp and slightly sweet. You don’t get overwhelmed with decadence, sweetness or richness – not that there’s anything wrong with those things, as many of my recipes are decadent, sweet and rich – but when you’re in the kitchen chatting with your family or friends and there’s a stack of Pizzelle nearby, you’ll find that you’ve eaten one, then two, then before you notice ten or twelve.
One recipe makes a ton of cookies and that’s definitely a good thing. I give these away to friends and family. One of my friend’s young adult sons have fought over these cookies. Every year my sisters demand to get their fair share of the Pizzelle for Christmas. Last year I brought Pizzelle to my cousin’s open house party and her father said that my Pizzelle tasted just like my grandmother’s did fifty years ago when she brought him some.
Our favorite way to eat Pizzelle is to nibble on the ends first before eating the rest. As you can see from the cookies in the pictures we don’t fill the entire rectangle with dough for a couple of reasons. First, you get more cookies when you use less dough and second, they’re more fun to eat when you’re able to nibble on the ends.
You can still purchase a Pizzelle iron similar to mine. My youngest sister purchased one online from Fante’s at http://www.fantes.com/pizzelle.html. The iron is made in the US and is inexpensive. When I showed my sister how to make Pizzelle, I found that the iron was little different, in that, the handles were a little more lightweight than my iron but made no difference to the quality of the cookies made with it.
I realize this is a lot of discussion around one cookie but it’s just that this recipe has been such an integral part of our Christmas tradition for so long (since before I was born) that I felt it needed to be shared.
Enjoy – it’s worth it.
My sister’s brand new Pizzelle iron.
The dough for this recipe is different than most cookies. The dough is much thicker and you’ll need to mix it as far as you can with your stand mixer.
A closer look.
The dough after additional manual mixing of additional flour. Note that I use an Ice Cream Spade to mix in additional flour until the dough is about the consistency of Play Dough.
Shape the dough into finger-like portions to get ready for cooking.
After cooking the dough you have delicious Pizzelle cookies.
Yield: 175 – 200 cookies Cook Time: 3 hours
- 1 dozen large eggs (only 11 eggs if using extra-large)
- 1 1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil)
- 6 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons vanilla or to taste (I usually pour directly out of the bottle until I see the mixture change to the correct color)
- 4 cups sugar
- 5 pounds flour, approximately
- Cooking spray as needed
- 3 large eggs
- 2.5 ounces oil (75 ml – just below 1/3 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla or to taste
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 cups flour, approximately
Step 1: With a stand mixer beat eggs on medium until frothy. Blend in oil, baking powder and vanilla.
Step 2: Lower the mixer speed so the dry ingredients aren’t splashed out of the bowl. Slowly add sugar, waiting for each cup to be blended before adding the next until all the sugar is incorporated. Begin adding flour in small increments, about 1/2 cup at a time. Wait for each addition to blend with the remaining ingredients.
Step 3: Once the dough becomes too thick for the mixer to continue, divide the dough in half and transfer each half into ceramic or glass bowls. The reason I separate the dough is to mix it to an even consistency throughout when the dough is halved.
Step 4: Using a very heavy and very strong spoon like an Ice Cream Spade, continue blending the flour in small increments into one of the bowls of dough. You will not be able stir the dough but you can fold it over itself and use the back of the spade to drag the flour across the dough (it’s easiest if your dragging motion starts from the point of the dough farthest from you and drag the spade towards you) and thereby incorporating it. Be aware that you should not use your hands to mix the dough as it changes the flavor of the cookie.
Step 5: When the dough no longer sticks to the spoon (very thick), turn it over in the bowl to ensure the consistency is equal throughout. If there are parts of the dough that aren’t as thick or are sticky, then continue incorporating flour until it is the same consistency throughout. Repeat from Step 4 with the second bowl of dough.
Step 6: Begin forming the dough into finger-like portions about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches long. After forming many of the dough portions, spray both sides of the pizzelle iron with cooking spray. On a gas stove turn the heat to medium. Heat the iron for 10 minutes alternating sides every minute. Have a large tray nearby to stack the finished cookies.
Step 7: Open the iron while it sits on the gas burner and place one dough portion in the center of the iron with the long portion of the dough matching the long portion of the iron. Close the iron so the dough will squeeze into the crevices of the iron. Cook on one side for a count of 10 or 12 seconds and then turn over and cook the other side for 10 or 12 seconds. Check the cookie it should barely have a golden blush. The first cookie may be too dark or too raw. If it’s too raw, cook it on the side(s) that need it a little longer. Once the cookie is done, use a fork to lift one end and quickly pick it up and place it on the tray to cool. You’ll need to adjust the heat setting so you can get into a groove with making the cookies. Repeat cooking until all the dough has been cooked. You may need to spray the Pizzelle Iron with cooking spray periodically as you cook (maybe after half the dough is cooked). As the cookies are made you will be making stacks by creating a row of cookies across a tray and then repeating to make a second row, a third row and so on. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.
Tips: These cookies need to be made on cool dry days because warmth and humidity change the dough and you’ll use more flour than needed and the dough becomes difficult to work with. If the entire recipe yields too many cookies for you the recipe can easily be cut in half or a quarter. While cooking it’s helpful if you have someone else forming the cookies, so you constantly have dough portions ready to cook.
Storing: Store cookies on a tray and cover the top so they don’t get dust on them. The cookies are fine for quite a long time (several weeks).
Variations: Sprinkle with powdered sugar (don’t breath in while eating or you’ll start coughing). Drizzle with melted chocolate (my husband loves this). Shape into a cone while still warm and fill with ice cream or make an ice cream sandwich. Alternatively top with cannoli cream.
My family recipe adapted about fifty years ago from a friends recipe.
12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop
Week 2, October 4, 2012
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