Before I met S, I’d never tasted a pizzelle, the delicate, anise-scented Italian waffle cookie. It just wasn’t in my Jewish-American food vernacular. But S’s family is, as we all know, Italian-American; when he started inviting me along to clan get-togethers in south Jersey, I learned all about the cookies, quickly. His Big Gram would bring several batches to every gathering—including one coffee can filled with the crispy snowflakes for S, and one for his older brother. Licorice has never been my thing so I approached them cautiously, but it didn’t take long for their lacy, light flavor to win me over. On the bus ride back up to New York, S and I would open the canister every few minutes and pull another pair out. By the time we’d get home, they’d be half gone.
At my bridal shower, Big Gram gave me a pizzelle iron. When I unwrapped the package she confessed to being uncertain she’d done the right thing—we hadn’t registered for it, and she’d never noticed me eating them—but I was thrilled. In fact, S and I had considered registering for one, but for some reason hadn’t bothered. The first time I went to make them, though, there was one problem: Big Gram hadn’t included her recipe, which both S and I assumed was an heirloom of sorts. S made a quick call, and returned with funny news: Big Gram didn’t write anything out because she uses the recipe in the instruction booklet!
We made old-fashioned pizzelles a couple of times, S and I, before I had to make a confession: I just don’t like licorice that much. It was one thing to eat pizzelles as a special treat from Big Gram, but it was another thing altogether to make them ourselves every week or two. The booklet had a recipe variation for pizzelle con cioccolate—using cocoa powder and a little more sugar, and leaving out the anise extract—that sounded interesting. S was game (who can turn down a new way to eat chocolate, after all?) so we tried it. They were wonderful, not too sweet, nicely chocolaty, and perfect with a cup of coffee. Recently I picked up a simple wooden gadget at a kitchen supply store, and made a new treat: homemade chocolate ice cream cones!
Weight Watchers readers: each pizzelle is one point.
Makes about 45 cookies
3 large eggs
1 scant cup sugar
½ cup melted butter, cooled
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa [I use Dutch]
Beat eggs and sugar. Add cooled melted butter and vanilla extract. Sift flour, baking powder, and cocoa into bowl and stir to combine. Batter will be quite stiff enough.
Plug in pizzelle iron, and when the ready light goes out (it’ll take about 5 minutes) spray both plates of the iron lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Pre-set a timer for 35 seconds [the original recipe says :30, but I like them a little more cooked]. Using two soup spoons, place about ½ tablespoon of batter slightly off-center (towards the back of the iron) on each grid pattern.
Close and lock the iron, and turn on the timer.
Remove the baked pizzelles with a spatula, and set on a wire rack to cool completely—if you stack them too soon, they’ll be soggy.
To make cones:
Remove one pizzelle from the iron and roll it around a cone mold while still warm. The other pizzelle will remain pliable until you are ready to remove it from the iron. It’s pretty difficult to roll them tight enough that the bottom doesn’t have a sizable hole, so I just drop a few chocolate chips in each one before spooning in the ice cream. Any excuse to use more chocolate…
Note: Be sure to store your pizzelles in an air-tight container. They really don’t like humidity, so in the summer they can go quite limp. I line a coffee can with plastic wrap, and then pull it over the top of the cookies for extra security.