Delicate. Thin. Crispy. Wafer like. This is how I would describe this classic, authentic, Italian cookie: Pizzelle della Nonna. This amazing recipe for pizzelle is an easy, simple, no butter recipe, that can simply be flavored with vanilla, anise. or even chocolate. Includes storage tips on how to keep pizzelle crispy.
According to history, the first pizzelle cookies were made in the region of Abruzzo (geographically located in Central Italy) back in the 8th century. These highly recognizable Italian cookies get their shape by flattening the batter between two hot iron plates (just like waffles). These plates (rectangular or round) often had the pattern of the family crest engraved on them.
Nowadays, the imprint can be a geometric/waffle design, a flower or even a snowflake pattern.
When pizzelle are removed from the iron plate, they are extremely malleable. You literally have a few seconds to drape it over a bowl, or to wrap them around cannoli tubes to get your desired shape (cannoli, bowl, tulip, cone, etc great for custard or ice cream). Alternately, you can lay them flat.
Pizzelle recipes will always include these four basic ingredients:
- flour and
- a fat source.
The quantities and the type of fat used will determine the texture and thickness of the pizzelle; and as for the flavoring, it really is a question of taste. My personal preference is the flavor of my childhood, vanilla.
In my nonna’s Italian dialect, these simple cookies were referred to as “ferratelle”. My dad’s mother was born in Ripabottoni, in the province of Campobasso, in the Italian region of Molise. I have so many fond memories of my mom and my grandmother making these special treats, especially at Christmas.
I can remember eating pizzelle faster than they could make them. Back then, my mom and grandmother would make the “ferratelle” one at a time, with a stove top press with long handles. Imagine the afternoons spent making pizzelle when the basic recipe called for one dozen eggs…a dozen!!!
The cookies were made religiously every two weeks and they were stored in a bread box which was placed in the pantry. No bread in that box – only pizzelle. There were probably near a hundred of them, all stacked up, ready to be eaten as an after school snack or placed on the table when family and friends came over.
HOW TO OBTAIN PIZZELLE THAT STAY CRISPY:
After witnessing my grandmother making pizzelle for decades, here is what I do:
- as soon as the they come out of the press, lay flat (I use a cooling rack);
- do not stack them as the steam will cause them to lose their crispiness;
- once all the pizzelle are done, allow them to air dry overnight.
I will usually spread them out on the dining room table in small stacks of 3-4 and place a strip of wax paper loosely over the top. The following morning, I store them.
HOW TO STORE PIZZELLE:
If you do not have a bread box, here are other ways you can store these delicate treats to keep them nice and crisp:
- wrapped in aluminum foil, at room temperature;
- placed in cookie or coffee tins;
- paper bags.
Pizzelle stored in this manner will keep well for a few weeks. Whatever you do, do not place them in plastic or airtight containers (like Tupperware) as the will get soft.
Have you ever noticed that with time, the anise flavor intensifies in pizzelle? That’s why they are such a great cookie to start your holiday baking with.
ORIGINS OF THE RECIPE FOR PIZZELLE:
When my grandmother passed away, we found a small notebook which had some recipes written in it. It is remarkable to me that a woman, born in 1908, in a small village, in the middle of nowhere, learned to read and write. This little booklet symbolizes so much more than recipes.
This is truly priceless.
I have scaled down the original recipe, but if required, it can easily be doubled…or quadrupled and stored in your bread box 🙂
Pizzelle della Nonna
Delicate. Thin. Crispy. Wafer like. This is how I would describe this classic, authentic, Italian cookie: Pizzelle della Nonna. This recipe for pizzelle is an easy, simple, no butter recipe, that can simply be flavored with vanilla or anise. Did you know you can also make chocolate pizzelles?
- 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon anise extract optional
- Preheat pizzelle iron.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until frothy and beginning to thicken (about 3-4 minutes).
- Add sugar. Continue to whisk until well thickened.
- Add the oil and extracts. Mix well together.
- Slowly add the flour mixture until well combined, dough will be soft and sticky.
- Drop 1 tablespoon of batter on hot pizzelle press.
- Close lid and cook 30 - 45 seconds or until slightly golden.
- Remove from press with the help of a fork.
- Transfer to flat surface or mold into desired shape.
Special Equipment needed to make this recipe is a iron.
To make chocolate pizzelle use 1 cup all purpose flour sifted with 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I do not use the anise flavor-only vanilla).
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.
Ciao for now!
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2015.12.22 This post has been updated.