• 6 eggs
• 3 ½ cups (12 ¼ oz) all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ cups (10 oz) granulated sugar
• 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter , melted and cooled
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 2 tbsp anise extract
• ½ tbsp anise seeds
• Good pinch kosher salt
1. In a stand mixer, beat eggs on low until combined. Add the sugar gradually; beat until smooth. Add cooled melted butter and anise extract.
2. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Be sure to keep the mixer on low, or else you’ll end up wearing the batter instead of cooking it. Once fully incorporated, stir in anise seeds. Be sure to thoroughly combine the mixture, so no flour streaks remain. The dough will be very thick and sticky enough to be dropped by spoon.
3. Refer to your pizzelle iron’s directions for proper usage. Generally speaking, though, it’ll act like a standard waffle iron – plug it in to turn on, wait for the light to indicate that it’s come up to temperature, then spray it lightly with a nonstick spray.
4. Using two tablespoons, scoop a heaping tablespoon onto each waffle plate, just behind the center of the waffle design (towards the hinge of the waffle iron). Cook each pizzelle for approximately 60 seconds, or until lightly- to moderately-browned. Remove with a spatula to brown paper to cool.
5. Pizzelle are ready to eat when cool to room temperature and crisp. For better flavor and texture, store then in tins or closeable boxes, layered between wax paper, for up to two weeks.
This is one of those recipes you simply cannot make without this special piece of equipment – it’s essentially a very specialized waffle iron. Time was, you could only find these things in hardware stores in the Italian section of town for a couple weeks before Christmas. Now you can get them just about anywhere that kitchen equipment is sold, and most definitely on the internet. It’ll likely run you around $40-$60. Not expensive, per se, but remember – it’s a dedicated piece of equipment that only does one thing, and you’ll have to find storage space for it somewhere.
These have pretty traditionally been made with anise – that sweet licorice flavor. You could make them with vanilla or lemon extract, or any flavor extract, really, but what’s the point in that? The anise makes them special. Don’t skimp on the anise seeds, either – they work in tandem with the extract to really give a great full flavor.
This dough is thick. In fact, while you’re adding the flour, you may think, “this is too thick – I shouldn’t add it all.” But you should – you need it to be stiff to handle the waffle iron. I also don’t worry too much about overmixing this – since it’s going to be very thin and very crispy, toughness isn’t too much of a worry. But that said, don’t press your luck; always mix just until combined, and then stop.
You can keep this batter in the fridge for a few hours, if you’re not quite ready to cook them right away. Just let the batter sit out for 10-15 minutes before you’re ready. Baking the waffles isn’t hard – but it is time intensive, up to 45 minutes. I usually set up a table in my living room with the waffle iron on one side and the rest of the table covered in brown paper. This way, I’ve got my stations set up and ready to go, factory-style, and I can watch TV while I cook. I usually drop the dough just behind center; when you close the waffle iron, the forward squeezing motion will move the batter into the center of the waffle plates, forming a more symmetrical cookie. When you close the waffle, you may hear a little hissing – it’s just the batter complaining and getting used to its new surroundings. If you’ve used too much batter, you’ll see it ooze out the sides – no worries, just scrape those uncooked bits away, and the rest of the pizzelle will be fine. And now you know how much batter is too much batter.
The first few pizzelle are always going to help you feel your way around your particular iron – how hot the iron is, how long to cook them to get the desired brownness, where exactly to place the batter, etc… Always refer to the instructions that came with your model, as it’ll tell you about the “proper” settings for your iron. But really, it’s always going to come down to trial-and-error.
I have tried several different recipes, and they’re all variations on the same thing. This recipe was my grandmother’s, which means it came from the booklet included in her pizzelle iron from back in the late ‘50s. It’s been tweaked just a bit (the original called for margarine – bleagh! – and no salt), but otherwise, I find the proportions make the best pizzelle out there.
Always let them cool to room temperature before serving. If you eat them while they’re still warm, you’ll get a good anise aroma, but the flavor will be a bit disappointing. Additionally, you want them to be crisp, and they won’t get crisp until they’ve set all the way. And I really think these do best to sit for a while. Surprisingly, they don’t go stale, but they do get crispier and even more flavorful. My family would keep them in tins or old shirt boxes and leave them on the porch in the winter, where it would stay cold and act kind of like a large refrigerator. But now I live in Southern California, and I’ll keep them at room temperature for up to two weeks with no ill effects.
Serving… some people dust them with powdered sugar. Some people dip the edges in melted chocolate. Some industrious people even pluck them hot straight from the iron and roll them into tubes and cones before they harden, so they can be filled with things, creams and berries and whatnot. That’s all well and good, but it’s a hell of a lot of work. A good pizzelle doesn’t need anything.
Pairs Well With
Pizzelles are Christmas. They always have been in my family. They are a traditional Italian recipe - not quite a pastry, not quite a waffle - crispy and mellow with a nice aromatic anise flavor. A recent Pantry discussion led me to post my recipe. A word of note: making pizzelles require a special pizzelle iron. If you have one and you're going to try this recipe, be sure to look at my notes at the end for some clarification.