Pizzelle with pizzazz!

Ah, Easter! Another holiday, another occasion to make pizzelle.

I didn’t grow up Italian; I never heard of, saw, or tasted a pizzelle till after I’d married my Italian husband, and began visiting Boston’s North End – close by the Haymarket, where Rick’s family sold vegetables from their farm.

Since we lived in Maine, the trip to the North End was pretty much confined to holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We’d make the rounds, from the meat market, with its hanging skinned rabbits; to the bread bakery, where we’d pick up light-as-air loaves showered with sesame seeds; to Trio’s, where you could get every kind of fresh pasta imaginable.

A tiny underground bakery, Galleria Umberto, offered a few desultory loaves and rolls, but mostly did a brisk business in pizza: big sheet pans of thick Sicilian-style pizza, hot from the oven. It was a mother and son operation: son baked, and mother, clad in black, hair pulled back in a severe white bun, handed you your slab of pizza on a paper napkin.

It was the simplest possible treat – bread, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan – but walking Boston’s cold streets on Christmas Eve day, it was the ultimate comfort food.

Galleria Umberto has since moved to larger quarters, and now serves arancini, panzarotti, panini, and calzone, as well as its signature pizza. Totally worth a visit if you’re in Boston.

Sometimes, instead of pizza, we’d stop at Salumeria Italiana, a tiny grocery store offering dried ceci (chickpeas), farro (wheat berries), olive oils, cured meats, and cheeses. It wasn’t advertised; but if you asked the old man behind the counter, he’d make you a sandwich: salami and provolone, hot peppers, a drizzle of olive oil, all on the freshest, crustiest bread ever.

Finally, we’d find a pastry bakery to pick up the obligatory box of cannolis. Mike’s or Modern Pastry are Boston’s two long-time contenders for cannoli supremacy; each offers a slightly different style. I prefer Modern’s, but when you’re talking about cannolis – they’re all good.

Italian bakeries usually divide along two lines, as mentioned above: bread, or pastry. But there’s one treat that can be found in either one: pizzelle. They’re equally at home bagged and displayed among stacks of crusty bread, or atop a cold case of cheese-filled cannoli or cream-filled cakes.

The simplicity of this plain, unassuming sugar cookie is its major asset: pizzelle can be intensely vanilla flavored; redolent of rum or anise; aromatically almond or orange. The pizzelle is a blank slate, awaiting only your imagination.

We’ve flavored pizzelle with a variety of extracts and flavors: coconut, vanilla butternut, maple. We’ve sprinkled them with colorful sugar nonpareils, chocolate jimmies, or coarse sparkling sugar midway through their bake. And of course, you can always simply apply their traditional final touch – a shower of confectioners’ sugar.

This Easter, I thought I’d branch out a bit and try chocolate pizzelle. More milk chocolate-y than dark, they’re yet another successful variation on the theme. And, since chocolate loves vanilla, how about two-tone cookies – half vanilla, half chocolate? Or half coconut, half chocolate. Or half hazelnut, half mocha…

Whoa – one thing at a time. Let’s start with Chocolate Pizzelle.

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The simplest variation: Chocolate pizzelle, with coarse sugar and without.

OK, let’s dive in.

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No way around it: you need a pizzelle iron to make pizzelle.

Our choice is ChefsChoice. I’ve been making pizzelle for years, and this iron is a definite improvement over some of the slow, clunky ones I’ve used in the past. It’s ultra-fast, cooks very evenly (no hot spots), and makes pizzelle that aren’t too thick (hard), or too thin (fragile and crumbly), but just right: crunchy-crisp.

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Place the following in a mixing bowl:

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
3/8 teaspoon salt

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Beat till smooth.

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Add 1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

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Again, beat till smooth.

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Add 1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

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Stir till smooth.

Add 1/2 cup melted butter.

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Stir till smooth. (Do you sense a repeating pattern here?)

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Dollop the batter onto your pizzelle iron. A tablespoon cookie scoop (which holds about 4 level measuring teaspoons) works well here.

Drop the batter just above the center line; as you close the cover, it’ll be pushed forwards slightly, and end up centered in the design.

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Cook according to the manufacturer’s directions. Our Chef’sChoice pizzelle iron makes pizzelle in just 30 seconds flat – WOW. It’s the fastest iron I’ve ever used; most take anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes.

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Hint: For crunchy pizzelle, cook for half the required time. Open the iron…

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…and sprinkle about 1 1/2 teaspoons sparkling white sugar on the pizzelle.

Close the iron, and cook for the remainder of the required time.

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Here are two pizzelle: one plain, one with sugar.

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You can also dust baked, cooled pizzelle with confectioners’ sugar.

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A thorough coating (back); or just a dusting (center).

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Now, how about those cool two-tone pizzelle? It took a bit of figuring, but I’ll cut to the chase (pretty much) and show you how to do this.

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First, make both chocolate batter, and classic pizzelle batter.

A teaspoon cookie scoop is a HUGE help here. Actually, two scoops are even better. Pictured above are a teaspoon scoop (left), and tablespoon scoop (right). The smaller scoop is perfect for half-and-half pizzelle; the larger, for single-flavor pizzelle.

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If you’re using scoops, put each of them in a cup of water; ditto if you’re using spoons. This will keep the batter from sticking as you scoop.

Let’s quickly run through a few mistakes I made along the way.

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First, I dolloped equal-sized balls of batter – vanilla, and chocolate – on the iron.

Hmmm… looks like the chocolate spreads more. So, I need to use more vanilla batter than chocolate.

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A heaping teaspoon scoop of vanilla…

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…and a level teaspoon scoop of chocolate.

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Better, but look how the vanilla pushed the chocolate right over the edge… DARN.

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How about if I reverse the two – chocolate on the top, vanilla on the bottom?

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Ah, NOW we’re talking.

A few tweaks in placement, and pretty soon I was turning out nearly perfect half-and-half pizzelle.

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Speaking of perfect, ragged edges are inevitable. But not permanent. Simply use a pair of scissors to trim the pizzelle. Do it while they’re warm, or wait till they’re cool; doesn’t matter.

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Much nicer, eh?


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Here’s the whole good-looking lineup: half-and-half; chocolate with coarse sugar; plain vanilla; and plain chocolate.

By the way, the next time I made these, I substituted 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut flavor for the vanilla in the plain pizzelle batter. And served the resulting pizzelle with Nutella. Be still, my heart!

One final note: The  chocolate batter makes more pizzelle than the vanilla. If you go the half-and-half route, you’ll get about 47 pizzelle, with enough chocolate batter left over to make 7 chocolate ones.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chocolate Pizzelle.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Louisa Roberts

    I have misplaced my recipe book that came with my VillaWare pizzelle maker. There’s a recipe that uses vegetable oil instead of butter. (I just made a batch with butter and they are way too brittle, and burned easily.)
    Does anyone have the oil recipe? I know it calls for 1 3/4 cups of flour and 3 eggs.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Sherry

      This is a bigger batch, it is “Gina’s Pizzelles” from Mario Batali on the Food Network Website. I do have my own and will find it. I use almond, lemon or vanilla. I don’t like the taste of licorice.
      6 eggs
      1 cup sugar
      3/4 cup vegetable oil
      3 cups all-purpose flour
      1 tablespoon baking powder
      3 tablespoons anise seeds
      Anise oil, as needed
      Optional:
      1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 additional egg, or
      1/4 cup amaretto and an additional 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      Note: You will need a pizzelle iron to make these cookies.
      Directions
      In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and oil and mix until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder, anise seeds, anise oil, and optional ingredients if desired, and mix well to form a homogenous batter. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

      Heat the pizzelle iron until very hot. Pour 2 tablespoons of batter onto the iron, close it, and return to the heat. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used.

    2. Sherry

      Here is the one I use.Makes 2-3 dozen depending on the size of the pizzelle maker
      The vegetable oil will make them thin and crisp.

      Ingredients:

      1 cup sugar
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      3 eggs, room temperature
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1 tablespoon grated orange zest
      1-1/2 teaspoons extract (lemon, rum, almond, vanilla, or anise)
      3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

      Directions:

      In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and oil. Add the eggs, salt, zest, and
      extract. Beat well. Gradually stir in the flour until the mixture is smooth. It will
      be very soft and sticky.

      Heat the pizzelle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wet
      your hands. Take a scoop of dough the size of a walnut and roll between your
      hands to form a ball. Or you can use a spoon to place the dough on the
      pizzelle baker. Place the dough on the pizzelle surface. Close and clamp the
      lid and cook until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Transfer pizzelles to paper
      towels to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

    3. PJ Hamel, post author

      Thanks so much for sharing with us and all your fellow readers, Sherry – much appreciated. They sound yummy! PJH

    4. MaryJane Robbins

      Thanks for sharing this, Sherry. I’ve never seen a pizzelle recipe that made a dough you could roll. I’ll have to add this to my list to try out. ~ MJ

  2. Robb

    My Dad’s grandmother and mother made pizzelles when I was growing up. We grew up close to the North End in Winthrop. In recent years my Dad’s cousin Virginia made them and I always loved the anise smell in the containers with the cookies. Sadly she passed away last year. I got an iron for Christmas and will be practicing with your recipes to surprise my Dad at the cottage this summer. We ate them all year long in our family. Thank you for the North End memories. I’ve been gone from New England since 1985. Grazie PJ

    Reply
  3. Debora

    These are beautiful cookies indeed. I have made the chocolate and can’t wait to branch out.
    Wondering if anyone out there knows where I might get a custom iron with family crest on it made?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sadly, we don’t have a resource for family crest pizzelle irons, but some on -line research may help you find a resource. Best wishes in your quest and Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  4. Kristin

    I made pizzelles for the first time this year with a recipe that uses butter rather than oil. They taste great, but they are a little too crumbly — I can’t tell you how much powdered sugar I have spilled on myself when a cookie breaks in half as I take a bite. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hmm, quite odd! I would try adding 1-2 tablespoons of water to the dough if it seems too dry. You may need more or less, depending on the time of year. Jon@KAF

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