Pizzelle

Cucina Conversations

Welcome to the December edition of Cucina Conversations! This month, we made our theme a little broader and are bringing you Italian recipes that are perfect for sharing and gift-giving during the Christmas season. I love baking year-round, but I really love baking during the holidays. The Christmas music comes on Thanksgiving Day, I spend a day or two with my nose in my cookbooks deciding which recipes to make for my annual cookie gift tins, and then my kitchen turns into a cookie-making factory for a solid two weeks (or more). Gifting homemade cookies from my kitchen to our dearest friends and family members is my favorite Christmas tradition. From deciding which recipes to bake, to selecting the gift tins, to the happy flour-and-butter-filled mess I create in my kitchen, to even standing in the long lines at the post office waiting to ship out my packages, I am happiest when I am creating something homemade in my kitchen to give as gifts. The cookies that make it into my yearly gift tins changes from year to year (I want to learn to bake as many different types of cookies as I possibly can!), but the one cookie recipe I make every year are pizzelle.

pizzelle

Pizzelle are a cookie very dear to my heart  because they were introduced to me by Peter’s late aunt Gloria. No sooner were Peter and I engaged, Aunt Gloria and I formed a close bond that lasted until she passed away two years ago. I will never forget how warmly and enthusiastically she welcomed me into the Scalzitti family, and how she and I connected through our shared love of Italian food, culture, and cooking. We would often spend the better part of an hour (or more) on the telephone talking about recipes and Italy. Aunt Gloria was known for her pizzelle. There was always a tin filled with them in her kitchen, and when she and her husband–Peter’s late uncle Bill–would make the twelve hour drive from their home in the Florida panhandle to Peter’s parents’ home here in Houston, there was always a tin (or two) of pizzelle carefully tucked away in the back of their minivan along with grocery bags filled with Aunt Gloria’s jalapeño pepper jelly, hot pepper relish (Peter’s favorite), and tomatoes, peppers, and herbs from Uncle Bill’s meticulously tended and prolific garden. Aunt Gloria and Uncle Bill lived for sharing food and the bounty of their garden with their family and friends and it is one of the fondest memories I have of both of them. Aunt Gloria also loved sharing recipes, and when I was gifted a pizzelle iron from my mother-in-law, Eleanor, she quickly sent me her pizzelle recipe, which I still use to this day. She will always be an example for me on how to live life to the fullest–with joy, integrity, faith, gratitude, generosity, and a lot of laughter.

Aunt Gloria

Pizzelle were first made in the eighth century in the region of Abruzzo. Two small towns in the region claim to have created the treat: Salle in the province of Pescara, and Cocullo in the province of L’Aquila. In Salle, a festival is held in July to honor Beato Roberto, a twelfth century monk. Celebrants walk down the streets carrying branches on which pizzelle are suspended as an offering. In Cocullo, pizzelle are made and enjoyed for the festival in honor of the town’s patron saint, Domenico of Sora. Cocullo’s festival is known as the Festa dei Serpari (feast of the snake handlers). It’s a peculiar celebration because Saint Domenico’s statue is carried throughout the town draped in live (non-venomous) snakes which commemorates the time when Cocullo was once overrun by snakes who were then chased out. Celebrations followed in which pizzelle were made and shared throughout the town. Today, pizzelle are made year-round, not only in Abruzzo, but all over Italy, and they have gained recognition and popularity abroad as well. For me, Christmas isn’t complete without turning out several batches of pizzelle to keep in a cookie tin on the kitchen counter ready to share with friends. Because they are delicate, I don’t ship pizzelle to my out-of-town cookie gift tin recipient friends. Instead, I share them with local friends and they are always a hit. What I especially love about making pizzelle is that they have become a way to stay connected with Aunt Gloria and keep her memory alive.

pizzelle

My fellow Cucina Conversations friends will be publishing their recipes in the next few days, but not all links to their December recipes are posted yet, so be sure to follow them on social media and visit their blogs to find out when their December Cucina Conversations posts go live. You won’t be disappointed–there are some delicious recipes coming your way!

Francesca at Pancakes and Biscotti
Daniela at La Dani Gourmet
Carmen at The Heirloom Chronicles
Rosemarie at Turin Mama
Marialuisa at Marmellata di Cipolle
Lisa at Italian Kiwi

In a few short days, Peter and I will be celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in Italy with my extended family and dear friends. I have been traveling to Italy my whole life, but this will be my first time celebrating the holidays in Italy and I’m so excited about it. I will be posting my adventures on Instagram (wherever I can find Wifi!), so be sure to follow along. I’m looking forward to sharing more Italian recipes and stories with you in the new year!

Buon Natale e Buon Anno a tutti!

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Vanilla Pizzelle
A recipe from Gloria Walker
Makes about 36 pizzelle

Special equipment: Electric pizzelle iron

6 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla or anise extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat the pizzelle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add in the melted, cooled butter and vanilla (or anise) extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until it is just incorporated. Finish incorporating any flour by hand using a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl, taking care not to over-mix the batter. Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes to let it thicken.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto each mold–how much batter you place in each mold will depend on the size of your pizzelle iron molds. Cook the pizzelle according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the pizzelle are finished cooking, use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely to allow them to crisp.

Storage: Store in a cookie tin or airtight container at room temperature.

 

Chocolate Pizzelle
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Special equipment: Electric pizzelle iron

3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
½ (1 stick) cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Preheat the pizzelle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add in the cocoa powder and baking powder and mix until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour and mix until it is just incorporated. Finish incorporating any flour by hand using a spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl, taking care not to over-mix the batter. Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes to let it thicken.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto each mold–how much batter you place in each mold will depend on the size of your pizzelle iron molds. Cook the pizzelle according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the pizzelle are finished cooking, use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely to allow them to crisp.

Storage: Store in a cookie tin or airtight container at room temperature.

pizzelle

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1 Comment

  • Reply Lisa January 1, 2017 at 11:08 am

    What beautiful cookies! I’ve heard about them, but I hadn’t ever seen them “for real”. I need to get one of those pizzelle irons! Do they always have the same decoration? Have a wonderful time in Italy!

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