Delicate, patterned cookies are a lovely traditional treat, just like Nonna used to make.
Delicate. Thin. Crisp. Wafer like. This is how I would describe this Italian cookie, Pizzelle della Nonna.
According to history, the first pizzella was made in the region of Abruzzo (geographically located in Central Italy) back in the 8th century. This highly recognizable cookie gets its 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. Follow this link to see some examples.
When the pizzella is removed from the iron plate, it is 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). Alternately, you can lay them flat.
There are four basic ingredients to make pizzelle-eggs, sugar, 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 grandmother’s Italian dialect, these simple Italian treats were referred to as “ferratelle”.
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 pizzelle press with long handles. Imagine the afternoons spent making pizzelle when the basic recipe called for one dozen eggs…a dozen!!! The Pizzelle della Nonna 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.
I have scaled down the original recipe, but if required, it can easily be doubled…or quadrupled and stored in your bread box.
- 1¼ - 1½ cup all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 3 eggs (room temperature)
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ 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.
To make chocolate pizzelle use 1 cup all purpose flour sifted with ¼ cup cocoa powder.