Italian Pizzelle Cookies: Creative Dessert Recipes
What Do You Know About PIZZELLES?view quiz statistics
History of the Pizzelle
A Pizzelle is an Italian wafer-like treat that appears to at least date back to the twelfth century and is thought to be the oldest known cookie.
It is believed that Pizzelles originated in the Abruzzo region of Italy where blacksmiths used railroad nails and pieces of track to construct the metal irons used to bake the Pizzelles over an open fire. The irons had very long handles to avoid the user being burned. Many of the irons included an imprint of a family crest or a design that gave a hint about the village where it was created.
A dollop of dough would be closed in between two iron plates and baked over a fire. The original ingredients have not changed much over the years although today there are many creative things to do with Pizzelles other than serving a simple, flat cookie.
The traditional flavor of a Pizzelle is anise which gives the cookies a subtle licorice flavor, but you do not have to use it of course. There are many fun options as you will see below.
Nowadays, you can purchase electric Pizzelle Irons (or Pizzelle Bakers) that are much easier and quicker to use than so many years ago. The cookies can be hard and crispy or soft and chewy depending on the method of preparation and ingredients used. Pizzelles remain extremely popular, especially in countries with large Italian populations including the U.S.A.
Pizzelles can notoriously be found in areas with large Italian populations such as:
C. Palmer Manufacturing Co. was the first U.S. company to make electric Pizzelle Irons.
My Family's Traditional Pizzelle Recipe
Pizzelles have been made in my family for as long as I can remember. I can still picture my mom sitting at the kitchen table trying to make and stack them faster than her kids could eat them. They were a staple at every holiday and family gathering. Here is the recipe that we continue to use today.
Original recipe cut in half if desired:
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
- 1 teaspoon anise flavoring
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups butter, melted and cooled
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
- 2 teaspoons anise flavoring
What do you think of the Traditional Pizzelle Recipe?
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until blended.
- Add melted butter, vanilla and anise.
- Sift flour and baking powder together. Slowly blend into the egg mixture.
- And last, blend in the sugar. If your dough is dry or too sticky, add a few drops of water at a time. If the dough is too soft, add a tablespoon of flour at a time. It will take a little practice to determine the best dough texture so that it isn’t too dry and yet not too loose either.
- Heat Pizzelle Iron. Drop one tablespoon dough onto the iron and close the lid tightly. Open and check after 30 seconds. The cookie should be a light golden color. Bake for another 15 seconds if necessary. The exact timing will depend on your iron. Note: For a thicker, softer cookie, use more dough and do not close the iron as tight.
- If you are leaving the Pizzelle cookie flat, simply cool on a cooling rack and stack. If you are shaping the cookie into a roll, bowl or cone, you must do so immediately after removing it from the iron.
- Once you experiment, making Pizzelles will become fun and easy.
- This recipe makes approximately 125-150 cookies depending on the thickness and width you choose.
Shaping Your Pizzelles
Pizzelles do not have to remain a flat cookie. When fresh off the iron, you can shape the Pizzelle into:
- Cones for ice cream type treats; roll on an angle or use a Pizzelle cone roller.
- Mini-baskets/bowls to hold things like fruit, candy, ice cream or puddings; place the warm cookie over the bottom of a drinking glass and shape into a bowl.
- Cylinders/rolls to be filled with ice cream and creamy type mixtures; simply roll into a tube shape.
- Taco shapes to be filled with any kind of treat you can think of; just briefly hold warm pizzelle in a taco shape until it sets.
Have fun and experiment with the cookie shapes.
Variations for Pizzelle Flavor, Color and Texture
Many people do not like the taste of anise and therefore, there are many other options to use for flavoring. You may have to adjust the flour depending on how much more liquid you use.
- Add a liqueur such as Amaretto or Rum.
- Add a flavored extract such as: almond, lemon, strawberry, orange, peppermint, etc.
- Add zest from an orange or lemon.
You, of course, can leave the color of the dough alone. Although, there are some fun options:
- A favorite is adding cocoa powder to make the Pizzelles brown in color and chocolate in flavor. Use 1/2 cup cocoa for the traditional recipe above and 1/4 cup cocoa for the recipe split in half.
- You can add drops of food coloring to change the color. For example, you could make red and green Pizzelle’s for the Christmas holiday.
- Another option when using food coloring ~ instead of mixing it thoroughly into the dough, you could slightly cut it in and your Pizzelles will have a “swirl” effect.
You can change the texture and taste by adding to the dough for example:
- Mini chocolate chips
- Ground nuts
Pizzelles can be rolled and stuffed, similar to an Italian Cannoli.
Cannoli Cream Filled Pizzelles (rolled)
Rolled Pizzelles can easily be stuffed using a pastry bag or a plastic baggie with a corner tip cut off.
Cannoli Cream Filling
- 2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoons vanilla
- 12 ounces mini chocolate morsels
- Chopped pecans (if desired)
Blend first three ingredients together. Fold in chocolate morsels. Fill pastry bag and stuff rolled Pizzelles. Dip both ends in chopped pecans if desired. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Mint Chocolate Pizzelle Treats (flat)
Make Pizzelles as instructed above with the addition of cocoa powder.
Do not shape cookies, leave flat.
Mint Chocolate Filling
- 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon mint extract flavoring
Place chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave on medium starting with two minutes until soft and melted. Stir in mint extract.
Lay Pizzelle flat and place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each cookie. Create a sandwich by evenly pressing another cookie on top.
New Pizzelle Makers
Pizzelle Ice Cream Sandwiches
Any pizzelle shape will work for a delicious ice cream dessert.
- Fill a pizzelle bowl/dish with ice cream.
- Fill a pizzelle cone with ice cream.
- Crumble a pizzelle cookie on top of a bowl of ice cream.
For ice cream sandwiches, soften ice cream enough so it is easy to work with. Lay pizzelle cookie flat and spread desired amount of ice cream evenly. Place another cookie on top to make a sandwich. Gently roll the ends in coconut, chopped nuts or candies to help hold the ice cream. Place in the freezer to set.
Just a Few More Pizzelle Tips to Leave You With
- Did you know that many grocery stores sell Pizzelles? If you are short on time, you could buy the cookies and then create your own dessert.
- Another quick option is to partially dip pizzelle cookies in melted chocolate (and chopped nuts if desired) to create a simple yet elegant display.
- If your Pizzelles are sticking to the iron, lightly coat the iron with cooking spray.
- Pizzelles are best stored in a tin or airtight container. If Pizzelles get moist, they can be briefly warmed in an oven to evaporate excess moisture.
- You do not have to be Italian to enjoy the wonderful tradition of fresh-baked Italian Pizzelles. The Pizzelle-loving side of my family is Polish and Ukranian!
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