PIZZELLES, a crisp, lightly ANISETTE scented wafer cookie that finds it’s way onto many a table of homemade treats at the Christmas Holiday Season. It’s a great presentation and once you’ve mastered the PIZZELLE MAKER technique you can bang these out by the hundreds. The maker (iron) is essential and if you are a fan of these treats it’s a nice investment. Very kid friendly for those holiday family cookie making kitchen events. Most makers start around 39.99 or so and can be purchased in a single iron or in the double iron (worth the extra money) and can be found on line or in specialty kitchen stores. So what’s the PIZZELLE all about? It’s Italian and they are made all over Italy today as well as in Italian-American homes. However, they do have a precise point of origin and that is the ABRUZZO in Central Italy. The Abruzzo is a region that straddles the North and the South in terms of culinary traditions but I’ve always felt that it favors the South in it’s foodways. The powerful pagan mixing with Catholic traditions is a driving force in Italy and there is much talk that the pizzelle is a traditional sweet that originally was part of the feast of one of two saints. The cult of San Domenico in Cocullo or the cult of Beato Roberto in Salle both claim the pizzelle. I’ll go with the San Domenico story because of this: You’re not seeing things, apparently S.Domenico is a magnet for snakes (I’m a fan of the cheesy movie SNAKES ON A PLANE too so this is right up my alley) and they are used in the annual Procession of S.Domenico di Sora every May slitthering up and down the statue. Another example of snakes as the evil serpent and S.Domenico as the one who restored the area to good clean living. AND..the pizzelle was created to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Don’t quote me as this is one of many legends regarding the crispy pizzelle but chances are somewhere in the history books there’s something to how and why they were originated. The Anisette flavoring which is so popular may not be part of the original flavoring. That might have simply been a non flavored wafer since there are now ones made with Vanilla, Anisette (my preference), Cinnamon, Lemon, Orange, Chocolate..the usual Italian suspects. Since I’m giving you a recipe with Anisette, and then giving you a Sicilian cream to fill it with this version clearly is not authentic nor is it Abruzzese but like myself, an Italian-American mix.
Let’s start with the cream, enough to make 25 or so Pizzelle sandwiches.
1 1/3 cups SIEVED RICOTTA (drain it thru a Cheesecloth for at least 5 hours, or find a fresh made type, use whole milk Ricotta, if your Ricotta is thin or loose it will affect the creme and not be suitable for a sandwich between 2 crisp pizzelle. The way to correct the excess moisture is by sieving it, not difficult, Cheesecloth though is needed) If you have access to small amounts of IMPASTATA then you are in really good shape, that’s the low moisture Ricotta used by the pros for Cannoli and ravioli but tough
1/2 cup CONFECTIONER’S SUGAR
DROP OF CINNAMON OIL, or 1/2 TSP. GOOD GROUND CINNAMON
1/4 TSP. PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
1 TBS. GOOD SEMI SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Blend everything except the chip till thick. Then fold in the chips. Chill for at least 3 hours, covered.
For the PIZZELLE..I use the Williams Sonoma recipe with a few tweaks:
FOR 25 PIZZELLE , YOU NEED TO DOUBLE THE RECIPE FOR THE 25 SANDWICHES
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus
more for brushing
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ANISETTE EXTRACT (LOOK FOR PURE ANISE EXTRACT ONLY, chocolate, lemon, or orange are also fine to use)
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder