Monday, January 2, 2012

Grandma Kay's Heirloom Pizzelles

To celebrate the New Year, my family and I went to an International Food Party, so we brought Italian Pizzelles - an anise waffle cookie!  This cookie has been passed down through my dad's side of the family and although my Grandma Kay is Croatian, she married into a big Italian Family who would make Pizzelles only on very special occasions, such as Christmas.  Being a very dedicated wife and eager to learn some unfamiliar Italian recipes, she bought a Pizzelle iron and started making them several times a year.  She couldn't understand why her husband's family would only make them once or twice a year, because they are so dang delicious and deserve to be eaten often.  But after making these for the first time the other day, I can fathom why...   Her 1930's iron weighs about 3 lbs, which doesn't sound like much, but when you are standing at the stove for 2 hours making these cookies with an iron that only makes one at a time... you start to feel it!  But my Grandma was a strong lady in her day!  After birthing 5 boys, I'm guessing you can do just about anything.  

So wanting to do this as traditional as possible, we, of course, used her original iron.  But you can easily use an electric pizzelle maker from Williams - Sonoma.  They are not made of iron any more and the cookies come out a bit thinner and crispier but they do the trick. 

What you'll need:

1 1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cubes butter (3/4 cup)
4 large eggs
1 small bottle anise extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 
4 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 cups sifted flour

With a spoon or spatula mix together the sugar and butter until creamed in a large bowl.  Mix in one egg at a time until evenly incorporated.  Add in the anise, vanilla and lemon juice and stir.  Gradually add in the flour and baking powder until well blended.  Because our iron is rectangular, we rolled our dough into an oblong shape of 2 in. long by 1 in. thick.  Place the iron over a medium low flame burner until it's very hot (about 5-10 mins).  Since it's iron we never have to grease ours because it's never washed.  So there is always oil still in the iron that has been leftover from the last batch.  Place the dough toward the middle back side of the iron and close.  Leave one side on the flame for about 20 seconds.  Then flip!  Leave the other side on the flame for another 20 seconds.  With a fork carefully peel out the cookie from the iron and place on a flat plate or cooling rack and let cool.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

This recipe is also great for making cannoli shells!  Since the cookie is soft right out of the iron, it's easy to mold into a hollow shell that can later be stuffed with ricotta cheese filling or ice cream! 

If you decide to use an electric Pizzelle maker, it comes with instructions that you may follow. 

When your hands smell like iron by the end of all this, you know you did a job well done!