Pizzelle with pizzazz!

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Ah, Easter! Another holiday, another occasion to make pizzelle.

I didn’t grow up Italian; I never heard of, saw, or tasted a pizzelle till after I’d married my Italian husband, and began visiting Boston’s North End – close by the Haymarket, where Rick’s family sold vegetables from their farm.

Since we lived in Maine, the trip to the North End was pretty much confined to holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We’d make the rounds, from the meat market, with its hanging skinned rabbits; to the bread bakery, where we’d pick up light-as-air loaves showered with sesame seeds; to Trio’s, where you could get every kind of fresh pasta imaginable.

A tiny underground bakery, Galleria Umberto, offered a few desultory loaves and rolls, but mostly did a brisk business in pizza: big sheet pans of thick Sicilian-style pizza, hot from the oven. It was a mother and son operation: son baked, and mother, clad in black, hair pulled back in a severe white bun, handed you your slab of pizza on a paper napkin.

It was the simplest possible treat – bread, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan – but walking Boston’s cold streets on Christmas Eve day, it was the ultimate comfort food.

Galleria Umberto has since moved to larger quarters, and now serves arancini, panzarotti, panini, and calzone, as well as its signature pizza. Totally worth a visit if you’re in Boston.

Sometimes, instead of pizza, we’d stop at Salumeria Italiana, a tiny grocery store offering dried ceci (chickpeas), farro (wheat berries), olive oils, cured meats, and cheeses. It wasn’t advertised; but if you asked the old man behind the counter, he’d make you a sandwich: salami and provolone, hot peppers, a drizzle of olive oil, all on the freshest, crustiest bread ever.

Finally, we’d find a pastry bakery to pick up the obligatory box of cannolis. Mike’s or Modern Pastry are Boston’s two long-time contenders for cannoli supremacy; each offers a slightly different style. I prefer Modern’s, but when you’re talking about cannolis – they’re all good.

Italian bakeries usually divide along two lines, as mentioned above: bread, or pastry. But there’s one treat that can be found in either one: pizzelle. They’re equally at home bagged and displayed among stacks of crusty bread, or atop a cold case of cheese-filled cannoli or cream-filled cakes.

The simplicity of this plain, unassuming sugar cookie is its major asset: pizzelle can be intensely vanilla flavored; redolent of rum or anise; aromatically almond or orange. The pizzelle is a blank slate, awaiting only your imagination.

We’ve flavored pizzelle with a variety of extracts and flavors: coconut, vanilla butternut, maple. We’ve sprinkled them with colorful sugar nonpareils, chocolate jimmies, or coarse sparkling sugar midway through their bake. And of course, you can always simply apply their traditional final touch – a shower of confectioners’ sugar.

This Easter, I thought I’d branch out a bit and try chocolate pizzelle. More milk chocolate-y than dark, they’re yet another successful variation on the theme. And, since chocolate loves vanilla, how about two-tone cookies – half vanilla, half chocolate? Or half coconut, half chocolate. Or half hazelnut, half mocha…

Whoa – one thing at a time. Let’s start with Chocolate Pizzelle.

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The simplest variation: Chocolate pizzelle, with coarse sugar and without.

OK, let’s dive in.

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No way around it: you need a pizzelle iron to make pizzelle.

Our choice is ChefsChoice. I’ve been making pizzelle for years, and this iron is a definite improvement over some of the slow, clunky ones I’ve used in the past. It’s ultra-fast, cooks very evenly (no hot spots), and makes pizzelle that aren’t too thick (hard), or too thin (fragile and crumbly), but just right: crunchy-crisp.

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Place the following in a mixing bowl:

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
3/8 teaspoon salt

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Beat till smooth.

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Add 1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

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Again, beat till smooth.

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Add 1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

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Stir till smooth.

Add 1/2 cup melted butter.

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Stir till smooth. (Do you sense a repeating pattern here?)

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Dollop the batter onto your pizzelle iron. A tablespoon cookie scoop (which holds about 4 level measuring teaspoons) works well here.

Drop the batter just above the center line; as you close the cover, it’ll be pushed forwards slightly, and end up centered in the design.

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Cook according to the manufacturer’s directions. Our Chef’sChoice pizzelle iron makes pizzelle in just 30 seconds flat – WOW. It’s the fastest iron I’ve ever used; most take anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes.

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Hint: For crunchy pizzelle, cook for half the required time. Open the iron…

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…and sprinkle about 1 1/2 teaspoons sparkling white sugar on the pizzelle.

Close the iron, and cook for the remainder of the required time.

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Here are two pizzelle: one plain, one with sugar.

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You can also dust baked, cooled pizzelle with confectioners’ sugar.

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A thorough coating (back); or just a dusting (center).

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Now, how about those cool two-tone pizzelle? It took a bit of figuring, but I’ll cut to the chase (pretty much) and show you how to do this.

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First, make both chocolate batter, and classic pizzelle batter.

A teaspoon cookie scoop is a HUGE help here. Actually, two scoops are even better. Pictured above are a teaspoon scoop (left), and tablespoon scoop (right). The smaller scoop is perfect for half-and-half pizzelle; the larger, for single-flavor pizzelle.

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If you’re using scoops, put each of them in a cup of water; ditto if you’re using spoons. This will keep the batter from sticking as you scoop.

Let’s quickly run through a few mistakes I made along the way.

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First, I dolloped equal-sized balls of batter – vanilla, and chocolate – on the iron.

Hmmm… looks like the chocolate spreads more. So, I need to use more vanilla batter than chocolate.

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A heaping teaspoon scoop of vanilla…

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…and a level teaspoon scoop of chocolate.

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Better, but look how the vanilla pushed the chocolate right over the edge… DARN.

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How about if I reverse the two – chocolate on the top, vanilla on the bottom?

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Ah, NOW we’re talking.

A few tweaks in placement, and pretty soon I was turning out nearly perfect half-and-half pizzelle.

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Speaking of perfect, ragged edges are inevitable. But not permanent. Simply use a pair of scissors to trim the pizzelle. Do it while they’re warm, or wait till they’re cool; doesn’t matter.

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Much nicer, eh?


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Here’s the whole good-looking lineup: half-and-half; chocolate with coarse sugar; plain vanilla; and plain chocolate.

By the way, the next time I made these, I substituted 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut flavor for the vanilla in the plain pizzelle batter. And served the resulting pizzelle with Nutella. Be still, my heart!

One final note: The  chocolate batter makes more pizzelle than the vanilla. If you go the half-and-half route, you’ll get about 47 pizzelle, with enough chocolate batter left over to make 7 chocolate ones.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Chocolate Pizzelle.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Nancie

    Whoo, hoo I just so happen to have a pizzelle iron in my cupboard, just waiting to be used. Thanks so much for the post to remind me I need to get it out and use it.

    Go for it, Nancie! PJH

    Reply
  2. Erin in PA

    Looks AWESOME! I love making pizzelles and I have been looking at getting the Chef’s Choice one – I have been using my grandmother’s pizzelle maker (from the 1940′s) since I learned to make them from her! It’s getting up there in age (I am afraid it will stop working soon), but I always remember eating those anise flavored ones (with the seeds) at her house when I use it. Can’t wait to try some two toned ones (and I love the idea of the rainbow nonpareils too!)

    Reply
  3. Shana Segat

    My Grandma used to make the most yummy pizelles. She passed away in November. Between her passing away and my not being able to eat gluten, I was afraid I’d never get to eat a pizzelle again. Thank you so much for this!! I’m getting a pizzelle maker and some of your flour.

    Reply
  4. Beth @ 990 Square

    Now my mouth is watering…I really want some pizzelles! I wanted some around Christmas but never made it to Vaccarro’s our local Baltimore Italian institution. Thanks for reminding me!

    The recipe looks fantastic, but I’m sure my husband would kill me if I ever had a dedicated pizzelle iron!

    Reply
  5. Amy

    My great-grandfather immigrated from France when he was a child. His family brought with them a recipe for what we call French Cookies. The recipe is very similar to the vanilla pizzelles. My dad always used an electric pizzelle iron to make them, but I have my grandmother’s manual gaufrette iron. The gaufrette makes a pretty grid pattern like a waffle cone, but at 2 minutes per 2 cookies and about 20 dozen per batch I don’t make them very often except at Christmas.

    I’ll be on the lookout for Chef’s Choice. I would like to have an electric iron and the pattern on yours looks like I remember from my childhood. When I think of it, I look in the kitchen stores for a pizzelle iron, but no one carries them. The link you included was incomplete. Is this brand available online?
    Here’s the link again. Enjoy! Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  6. Farrah

    I just recently made these for St. Joseph’s day. For the past 15 years I’ve made these for Easter and will again this year. I haven’t tried the chocolate/vanilla combo that looks great. For extracts I’ve always used lemon. I love the flavor! For the first time ever I used the Fiori Di Sicilia, it gave a nice orange citrus flavor. I always dust with confectioner sugar. My recipe is similiar to yours but my dough is thinner making the cookie dainty. As a side note, I’ve always made the pizzelles into cannoli shells while they are warm. I’ve used the pizzelle recipe and I have a cannoli one.
    Pizzelles ROCK! I haven’t met a person yet after eating a pizzelle not reach over and get another one.

    Reply
  7. Debby

    I was just thinking about making pizzelle, getting ready for Easter. My mother-in-law has the best recepie for vanilla pizzelle, but I will try the chocolate version you have here, thanks for a great idea. Just curious if I can use oil instead of butter? Mother-in-law says it makes the pizzelle too crispy.
    HI Debbie,
    There are pizzelle recipes that call for oil instead of butter, but whether you will like the texture is definitely bakers choice. Why not try a half batch each way, one butter, one oil, and see which one you like better? Have fun! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. Jeannine

    My batter seems to be sticking…Any advice?

    Jeannine, did you make the recipe as written, using the full amount of melted butter? Did you grease your iron? Is your iron non-stick? PJH

    Reply
  9. christina

    How did the pizzelles get the colored dots on them in the other picture? Was it colored sugar in the mix? sprinkles?

    Christina, they’re colored sugar nonpareils – PJH

    Reply
  10. Sue

    OOOH yeah! I have made anise flavored pizzelles with an electric iron at Christmas time. I learned to make them on a range-top iron from my best friend, Judy, back in the 70′s! I did experiment with the chocolate flavor but never perfected the recipe. I never considered them at any other holiday but will now. Our neighborhood dairy sells eggnog at Easter so why not pizzelles? Yummy!

    Reply
  11. AJ

    I love pizzelles, however we don’t have room for another cooking
    utensil so I’ll have to buy mine. On ther other hand I have my norwegian
    aunt’s rosette irons so may I’ll give them a go. Have you ever tried them?

    Yes, AJ, I’ve made rosettes – VERY tasty!! Definitely worth making…

    Reply
  12. Allan

    This looks like the kind of thing it might be fun to make at work. But can the pizzelle batter be refrigerated for later use? And if it can, does it have to be brought back to room temperature before putting into the pizzelle iron or can it stay cold?

    Allan, unless you want to show people how it’s done, not sure why you’d choose to make these at work. Unlike most cookies, pizzelle are best eaten at room temperature, not warm. And they don’t get stale quickly; you could make them at least a week ahead, and they’d still be just fine. That said, I imagine the batter could be refrigerated (I’ve never had occasion to do it, but don’t see why not – can’t tell you how long it can be left in the fridge, but probably several days); and no, you wouldn’t need to bring it to room temperature to use it. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  13. Marianna

    I put the pizzelle maker in my “shopping cart” on Monday and was pondering if I really wanted one. Tuesday comes and I find this recipe. Talk about timing! I have one question. if I use the method of adding the coarse sugar during the cooking process, do those pizzelles have the same shelf life as ones without the coarse sugar?
    Hi Marianna,
    The “crunchy sugar added” cookies will last quite well, but they are often among the first ones eaten by hungry, happy people!
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. Amy

    I use half vanilla and half almond extract. So yummy! I like the idea of the sugar but does it ever get stuck or burnt on the iron? Mine is old.

    It didn’t get stuck on my iron, Amy – no telling on yours, though. Give it a try – be sure to grab the pizzelle off the iron FAST when you open it. PJH

    Reply
  15. Pat

    Seeing this recipe posted today brought me down a sentimental journey. My friend Mary made these cookies for years and she is now in the hospital.

    I think I will make them in her honor this weekend. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and great information.
    What a lovely thought Pat. I’m sure Mary will be delighted. Our best wishes for her speedy recovery. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  16. Mary

    Thank you for the very specific directions so that they all turn out the same size. Trimming them with scissors…simple but brillant idea for very professional looking pizzelles. I have been looking for a new idea for our church bake sales. I think I found it. Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Carla

    Loved the intro about the North End. I worked in Boston (in City Hall & vicinity) from ’72 -’82. The North End was lunch most of the time. We always got our cannolis from The Prince a tiny pastry shop on Prince St. (where else), then around to the Cafe dello Sport for our “cappa.” Thanks for jogging my memories!
    One Question can I use my Grandmother’s Krum Kaka Iron to make pizzelles?

    Carla, then you must remember Umberto’s, yes? It’s moved over to Hanover Street now. I remember the Cafe dello Sport, too. I used to visit a lot in the ’70s/’80s, so we were same timeframe. And sure, use that krumkake iron – I think it’ll make a slightly thinner pizzelle, but should work just fine. PJH

    Reply
  18. Maureen

    Beautiful! The sparkling sugar looks like a great touch. We make these for Christmas, but never Easter, so seeing them here is a great surprise. I have my family’s manual, custom-made, Italian iron with our monogram (which my father and brother used to hold over the fire because it is so heavy). I’m used to the traditional anise recipe, but I look forward to trying new flavors.
    Grazie mille!

    (And in response to Allan’s question above, yes, the batter can be refrigerated; it will tighten up a bit, but works fine.)

    Reply
  19. John VanNierop

    Thanks for the trip down the North End memory lane. I miss the great food since moving to Florida over 30 years ago. We either have to make it or go without it here. After reading your post I am tempted to buy an iron.

    Reply
  20. teri

    Teri, My mother wipped up this dessert in no time when i was younger and toped with powered sugar you just cant have just one.
    Thank you for the scoop method i will try this myself.

    thank you,

    Reply
  21. Daria

    Yum! This blog gives me a good excuse to pull out the pizzelle iron I got for Christmas from my mother-in-law. She always makes anise flavored, but I think chocolate is in our future.

    Reply
  22. Diane

    I’m excited to try the chocolate! I usually make them for Christmas with the colored sugar non pareils! They add just the right amount of color for my cookie tray! I think that I will make some for Easter this year!

    Good show, Diane – I need to make some for Easter, too. Along with my Italian Easter Pie – YUM. :) PJH

    Reply
  23. Arloa Dahl

    The timing of the chocolate pizzelles is right on. We have been buying chocolate pizzelles locally but they are no longer available. My husband loves them and can have one for dessert as he is diabetic. He wants me to order the pizzelle iron from KAF so will be doing that soon. I make krumkakes at Christmas but they are thinner and more fragile. My daughter bought me that iron.They want to keep this old grandma baking!

    You go, Grandma! Glad we can help you as you keep your family happy. :) PJH

    Reply
  24. MaryAnn

    I made chocolate ones this Christmas and they were a big hit – people were excited to try a new variety. Many thanks for the tip to spoon the batter slightly above the middle. I was having trouble with centering on my new pizzelle iron and you may have solved my problem. Thank you!

    Reply
  25. Kathie

    I was intrigued with not only your recipe, but the photos. I have made pizzelle for years with my Godmother’s recipe. There is no way you could get a semi-solid scoop of that. Aunt Del’s recipe comes out like a rather thick waffle batter, spreads nicely and makes a nice delicate (but not too delicate) cookie. Hers is an oil recipe, so I think I will have to give yours a try (but for heaven’s sake don’t tell my Aunt Del!)

    Reply
  26. gerardaddy

    Just a BIG TKS!! Your post is fantastic!

    How long can they last, fresh, room temperature, in sealed plastic baggies?

    Gracias.

    Gee, a long time – couple of weeks, maybe? They’re like biscotti, they stay crisp and nice if you keep them well wrapped. Enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  27. cheryl s.

    Thank you so much Ms. Hamel for this incredibly informative post.

    Referencing your “FEW TWEAKS” comment for the half chocolate, half vanilla pizzelles which indeed, achieved a perfectly symmetrical pizzelle, you neglected to say what those “few tweaks” were as the “ALMOST RIGHT” pizzelles would have been destined for the reject bin if I were making them.
    How DID you ultimately achieve the perfect symmetry?

    Thanks again for this great tutorial.

    Hi Cheryl – It helps to start each ball of dough very slightly towards the back of the circle (hinge end of the machine), rather than centering them around the center line. The lid pushes them forward a bit as it closes, so starting a bit back from center accommodates that. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  28. Amber

    I recently made the two tone Pizelles for a cookie exchange. I made gingerbread and eggnog Pizelles instead of chocolate and vanilla. Delicious!

    Reply
  29. Kristin

    I made pizzelles for the first time this year with a recipe that uses butter rather than oil. They taste great, but they are a little too crumbly — I can’t tell you how much powdered sugar I have spilled on myself when a cookie breaks in half as I take a bite. Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hmm, quite odd! I would try adding 1-2 tablespoons of water to the dough if it seems too dry. You may need more or less, depending on the time of year. Jon@KAF

  30. Debora

    These are beautiful cookies indeed. I have made the chocolate and can’t wait to branch out.
    Wondering if anyone out there knows where I might get a custom iron with family crest on it made?
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sadly, we don’t have a resource for family crest pizzelle irons, but some on -line research may help you find a resource. Best wishes in your quest and Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  31. Robb

    My Dad’s grandmother and mother made pizzelles when I was growing up. We grew up close to the North End in Winthrop. In recent years my Dad’s cousin Virginia made them and I always loved the anise smell in the containers with the cookies. Sadly she passed away last year. I got an iron for Christmas and will be practicing with your recipes to surprise my Dad at the cottage this summer. We ate them all year long in our family. Thank you for the North End memories. I’ve been gone from New England since 1985. Grazie PJ

    Reply
  32. Louisa Roberts

    I have misplaced my recipe book that came with my VillaWare pizzelle maker. There’s a recipe that uses vegetable oil instead of butter. (I just made a batch with butter and they are way too brittle, and burned easily.)
    Does anyone have the oil recipe? I know it calls for 1 3/4 cups of flour and 3 eggs.
    Thanks.

    Reply

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