Pizzelles are traditional Italian waffle cookies that somehow manage to be homey yet sophisticated. They're baked in a special iron (scroll down for photos), and can be flavored a number of ways. This is the lemon-almond version. See endnotes for tips and suggestions.
Yield: approximately 25 to 30 five-inch diameter pizzelles
1. Heat the pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer’s directions. Season it if
necessary (see endnotes).
2. Whisk together these dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside:
2.5 ounces almond flour
4.75 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3. In a blender, blend the following ingredients:
Zest of two large, fresh lemons. If you don’t have lemons, use a half-teaspoon of lemon extract (or another extract – see endnotes for flavor suggestions)
About ½ teaspoon of another complimentary extract, such as vanilla or almond
5.25 ounces of sugar
4 ounces melted butter or margarine, or a neutral-flavored oil such as sunflower
4. Dump the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
The batter is going to be thick.
5. Using a #60 disher (this is a scoop that holds about 1 tablespoon of batter), plop a
portion of batter onto each cavity in the pizzelle iron (see picture below). Close the lid. When the steam stops, the pizzelle is ready – this takes about 35 to 45 seconds on my pizzelle iron. If you like them darker, leave the lid closed a little longer.
6. Immediately lift off the pizzelles and let them cool flat on a cooling rack. Once cool, they can be stacked and stored in a plastic bag. They’ll keep for several days at room
temperature, sealed airtight against humidity.
Pizzelles are a classic Italian cookie that is cooked in an electric iron that looks like a waffle iron. If you’ve never had a pizzelle cookie before, buy some from an Italian bakery and see whether you like them enough to invest in the specialized iron.
Other European countries have similar waffle-type cookies. The French and Belgian versions are are called gaufrettes. Dutch stroopwafels are sweeter variation that
sandwiches caramel filling between two waffle cookies.
In my family, pizzelles were served at holidays and special family gatherings. They
were always included on Italian-cookie trays, along side giuggiulena (sesame) cookies and cucciadati (fig) cookies. Pizzelles were especially appealing to us children because they were big, crispy, and “normal” tasting, containing none of the exotic flavors of citron or fiori di Sicilia that made their way into other Italian desserts.
How to flavor pizzelles. Like many Italian baked goods, pizzelles are not super-sweet. They can be flavored a number of ways. Anise – that licorice flavor so beloved by Italians -- is a common choice. Other options include: almond, vanilla, orange, lemon, and lime. You can also add a few pinches of spice such as cinnamon or cardamom, or instant espresso powder.
The recipe here calls for lemon peel because I prefer to use fresh citrus peel
whenever possible rather than extract. However, if you don’t have access to fresh
peel (or you’re short on time), extract works well.
It is possible to combine flavors, such as orange and almond, lemon and lime, coffee
and cardamom. My flavoring philosophy is to limit the combination to three
complimentary flavors at the most – more than that, and there is a risk of cluttering
the flavor profile.
Serving suggestions. Pizzelles are delicious served alongside ice cream or espresso. You can use them to make “sandwiches.” Here’s how. Spread one pizzelle with one of the following fillings: softened ice-cream, caramel sauce, nutella, fruit preserves, berries, or
whipped cream. Top with another pizzelle. Serve immediately so that the cookie
A hot pizzelle straight off the iron is pliable enough to wrap around a cone form so that the cookie becomes a cone, similar to an ice-cream cone. Fill the cone with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
About pizzelle irons. My pizzelle iron is made by Villa Ware. It is a traditional design that nonnas have used for decades. The metal plates cook the batter at a high temperature, while pressing the batter very thin. I always season my pizzelle iron before cooking the batter: I heat up the pizzelle iron, then wipe down the metal plates
with cooking spray and shortening (the shortening should melt into the grooves of
the metal plates and sit there for a minute or two to season them). Then I wipe
down the hot iron with paper towels held with tongs, and I proceed with the recipe.
The first batch of cookies might look a little mottled because of residual grease, but
subsequent batches should be fine. Any crumbs stuck in the iron’s crevices can be
brushed away with a pastry brush.
This is my Villa Ware pizzelle iron. Notice that it is all metal -- no non-stick here!
I use a #60 disher/scoop to portion out the batter. You can use a regular spoon, but the scoop is faster, easier, and keeps the portions more exact.
Pizzelles on a plate, ready to be served. Yum!