Classic Pizzelle are wafer thin Italian cookies made in a waffle like iron press machine and one of Italy’s oldest cookies.
I was inspired to make these pizzelle after a visit to my dad’s one afternoon. One cannot visit dad without a tour of his lush garden. It is just streaming with fruits and vegetables as well as a selection of wonderful aromatic herbs. He has a hybrid pear tree that grows 3 different varieties. I don’t know how he does it.! His pride and joy are his four fig trees which will be producing over 100 figs come September. Nestled between his grape vines were these clusters of wild anise plants.
The anise plant has sweet licorice flavored kernels which can be added to a variety of baked goods and savory dishes. It is the source of flavor in the Italian liquor Anisette. It’s tear drop shaped fruits are called anise seeds. They are ready to harvest when ripened to a grey-brown color. Simply clip the entire head and leave it out to dry, on a clean dish towel, for 24 hours. Once dried, shake the plant in a brown paper bag to collect its seeds. The kernels will easily fall off and they are then ready to store in a tightly sealed jar.
You will need a pizzelle press machine to make these thin, light and crispy waffle-like Italian cookies. They are extremely popular during Christmas and Easter and for special family gatherings.They are wonderful on their own but can also be transformed into various shapes. Pizzelle, while still warm, can be rolled into cannoli shells and filled with sweetened ricotta. They can also be sandwiched together with ice-cream or turned into waffle cones and also into edible bowls with your favorite filling.
There are many different flavor combinations to choose from. They can be scented with vanilla, almond, anise extracts as well as lemon, and they can also be chocolate flavored. I have tried many different ones and I must say my absolute favorite is the anise pizzelle studded with the little anise seeds.
Let’s Get Started with the Classic Pizzelle
- 1- 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon anise extract
Preheat the Pizzelle Press while preparing the batter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, anise seeds and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about one minute, just until thickened. Reduce the speed to low and add in the melted butter, anise extract and mix just until all ingredients are combined, for about 15 seconds. Next, add in the flour mixture and also mix just until combined for another 15 seconds. Don’t over mix the batter.
Use a heat proof brush to grease the top and bottom grids of the pizzelle press with a flavorless vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening. Do not use butter because it will burn. I used a cake release product from Wilton, it works wonders, and I only needed to grease the grids once.
Scoop out about 1- 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of pizzelle batter onto each cookie grid, centering the batter just a little behind the center of the patterned grid because when closing the lid, the batter gets pushed forward to the center yielding a more evenly rounded looking pizzelle. I used a 1 1/4 inch round cookie scoop. I found that dipping the scoop in a glass of water made it easier to release the dough onto the grid.
Close the lid and lock. My pizzelle press is a Cuisinart. I set it at number 4 and the pizzelle were ready in 60 seconds. If you have a different pizzelle press, follow the manufacturers instructions. If you prefer a lighter color, reduce the baking time and for a darker color add several more seconds.
When ready, use a heat proof spatula to remove the pizzelle and place on a cookie rack to cool. Don’t worry too much if it spreads out from the outer circle, you can simply round it off with a scissor.
Here I used a liquor glass to form an edible ice-cream bowl. Simply invert the pizzelle while still warm and pliable onto the glass and let cool. Tip: Lighter pizzelle are easier to mold or roll than a darker one.
Here the Classic Pizzelle are deliciously served with black cherry ice-cream to beat the summer heat!
Variation: For the Double Chocolate Pizzelle, as shown above, reduce the four to 1 -1/2 cups, add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Add 2 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate to the sugar, butter mixture. Omit the anise extract and anise seeds and add 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.
Adapted from the Cuisinart