Pizzelles. Pizzelles, man.
I never thought I’d do this. This recipe is so incredibly close to my heart. I have so many memories attached to these simple Italian cookies.
Remember when I shared that chocolate orange panettone recipe last week? And I told you all about my dad’s family, and my years working in an Italian catering kitchen? Pizzelles were with me through all of that.
Even though my grandfather didn’t really pass down much from his culture, I do have vague memories of being at huge family gatherings with his siblings. He was one of 11 children. My great-grandparents, Calogero and Caterina, had a baby every other year for 22 years. Can you imagine?
I remember two great-aunts in particular. Aunt Antoinette and Aunt Josephine. I maybe only saw them a couple of times in my life, but they had on those printed aprons, and the sensible shoes, and they stood in front of huge vats of bubbling red sauce. There were stacks and stacks of pizzelles, spread out on a folding table covered with a vinyl tablecloth.
The taste of those pizzelles stayed with me for decades.
Years later, when I found myself working in that pastry kitchen, I became Aunt Josephine and Aunt Antoinette. My sensible shoes weren’t sturdy lace-up oxfords, they were non-slip steel-toed boots. I didn’t wear a printed apron, I wore houndstooth pants and a white chef’s jacket. But every week, I stood in front of no less than 4 sizzling-hot pizzelle irons, breathing in anise-scented steam.
I eventually quit that job, but I could never quit pizzelles. Not a year has gone by since, where I didn’t fire up the pizzelle maker, put on Christmas music, and sit, scooping batter, lowering the lid, and flipping out pizzelle after thin, crisp pizzelle.
Over the years, I’ve fussed, and tweaked, and made slight improvements, here and there, to my original recipe. I really think it’s the best it could ever be. It’s simple. The ingredients are just whisked together in a bowl, no mixer required. They’re sweet and a little buttery, with real, authentic anise flavor, and little seeds that crunch between your teeth, giving bursts of intense black licorice.
And best of all, they’re so thin and crisp. Lighter than air! The texture is really what makes these pizzelles great, and I’ve had people begging me for the recipe for years.
I never thought I’d give it up, it just felt too important, too personal. But here it is! I hope you’ll carry on the tradition, and keep it as close to your heart as I always have.
The thinnest, lightest, most crisp pizzelles ever! They're just as light as air, and this recipe is truly authentic, with plenty of sweet anise flavor.
Yield: about 30 pizzelles
*You only need to do this once, before starting. There is no need to do it after every pizzelle.