Pizzelle with Maria Filosa
I happen to love kitchen gagets and machines. Of course, I have my favorites and they get used practically every other day. One of those machines is my pizzelle maker. It looks something like a waffle maker except that when you place the batter inside and close the lid, the two plates come together to create a flat cookie. Although making pizzelle can be a long process since you make one to three cookies at a time depending on your machine, the rewards are such that it is well worth the effort. I have seen pizzelle for sale and I have friends who purchase them but I can't seem to get myself to do that. I guess growing up in an Italian household, it was natural for us to make just about everything we ate, so it was with pizzelle. They are delicious and addictive crispy flat cookies with a design baked into each side and dusted with powdered sugar. The flavor is traditionally anise although they can be made with vanilla for those who don't necessarily like the licorice taste of anise. Being the experimenter that I am, I have made chocolate, cinnamon, coconut and even chestnut flavored cookies.
When I was young, the first time I made pizzelle with my mom, we had an iron that cooked a single cookie over the stove. Today, I have a few different types of machines that I use to make these cookies. I have an electric pizzelle maker that has two areas to put the batter creating 3 or 4" cookies and I also have an electric waffle cone machine that makes 6" cookies. Lately, this has been the machine that gets the most use. I can make flat cookies with it or roll them around a dowel as soon as I take them out for a tube shape which can be filled with whipped cream. These are best filled when it's time to serve them since the cream filling will soften the cookie over time. If you want to get really fancy, dip one end into melted chocolate and then into chopped nuts or sprinkles.
The recipe for pizzelle is really quite easy and very forgiving. My family recipe calls for 6 eggs, 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 2 tablespoons of anise flavoring, 1 cup of melted butter and 4 teaspoons of baking powder. This make a lot of cookies so if you use the full recipe, be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen. I have successfully split this batter into thirds and find that the 20 or so cookies it makes is sufficient at one time. If I make any more than that, I have to give some away or I will eat them all! The easiest way to mix the ingredients is in a blender. First mix all the wet ingredients and then add the dry. The consistency of the batter should be similar to very thick pancake batter, however, if it is too thick, you will not get a very thin crisp cookie so if needed, add some milk to thin it down if necessary.
Some pizzelle makers have an indicator light to tell you when it's hot enough, if it doesn't, let it heat up at least 5 minutes before you start. If making a small cookie, place about a teaspoon of batter in the center of each design area, for the large cookie use about a tablespoon or more. You will have to experiment with the amount of batter until you get the desired size cookie. If you put too much batter in, as it cooks the batter will ooze out and make a mess so start out with less then increase the amount as you get the hang of it. Close the lid and lock it then wait 30 seconds to a minute and open the lid. Your cookie should be light to golden brown. I use a silicone spatula to lift them out and place them onto a cookie sheet to cool. Once cool, dust them with powdered sugar or even drizzle some chocolate onto the tops.
Pizzelle make great gifts if you are visiting friends or family for the holidays. They look really nice stacked and placed into a cellophane bag then tied with a pretty ribbon.
So go out to the store to get yourself a pizzelle maker and start baking. I'm sure you'll love it just as much as I do. I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. Have a bountiful day!