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Friday, December 23, 2011

Make Pizzelle Cookies

We make pizzelle cookies at Christmas-time, without fail.  It's one of our family's many holiday traditions and it's just not optional.  I still occasionally hear from my kids about the one Christmas we didn't make them...  they aren't yet recovered from the trauma, apparently.

Have you ever had a freshly-baked pizzelle cookie?  Made right and a few-minutes-from-the-pizzelle-baker, they are quite a treat -- not too sweet, light, slightly chewy & crispy, with the mild and pleasant taste of anise.  Yum.  You will not be able to eat just one.

Of course you do need special equipment (a pizzelle maker) to make these cookies, but it will last you forever and it's a good thing to ask your mom or mother-in-law to give you for Christmas.  [This one looks pretty good.  Mine was made by this company but it doesn't look like they make them anymore.]

Here is the recipe I have used over and over without fail.  This makes about 20 cookies. You really do need the anise extract and can probably find it in a better grocery or "whole foods" type store.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp anise extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4  c flour
Heat the pizzelle maker.

Melt the butter (I usually do this in a glass bowl in the microwave) and let it cool slightly.  Break the eggs into a large bowl.  Add the sugar, cooled melted butter, vanilla extract and anise extract.  Beat well (I usually use an electric mixer but my girls mixed them up today by hand and it seemed to work fine).  In a separate bowl, sift the flour & baking powder together.  (Maybe you don't have to do this but I always have for this recipe so I am not stopping now.)  Add the flour & baking powder mixture to the egg & sugar mixture and beat well again, stopping to scrape the bowl if needed.

When the pizzelle maker is ready, drop the dough by scant teaspoonful, placing the spoonful of mixture slightly to back of the center of the cookie design.  (This is because when you close the lid of the maker it will smoosh the dough slightly forward.). Close the lid and bake for about 30 seconds or until just lightly browned.  You will probably have to experiment a few times to find the exact right amount of baking time for your taste and your pizzelle maker.  30 seconds always works for me.

The girls added 2 T cocoa powder to this batch.
Carefully remove the cookie from the baker with a large hard plastic "pancake turner" (or spatula or whatever you call that thing).  Put the cookie on a waiting cooling rack.  Our technique with this is to place the warm cookie on the cooling rack and once you have closed the lid on another 2 cookies and they are baking, slide the already-baked ones toward the middle of the rack, which leaves a space for the next set of 2.  Do this one more time and you'll have 3 "rows" of 2 cookies each.  As you bake the cookies, pile up the cooled ones on the end.

We like to package our cookies 20 at a time in an inexpensive plastic "bread bag" (the kind you can buy in any grocery store in the plastic baggie aisle). Place the cookies in a pile in the bottom of the bag and gather the excess plastic up around them.  Then you can tie a piece of curling ribbon around the plastic and attach a gift tag.  This makes a really great holiday gift for friends and neighbors!  [One year I bought small round Christmas-y tins at the dollar/discount store for about $1 each and used these to package up the pizzelles.  Easy to transport & pretty but they don't hold as many cookies as the bagged-up version.]

Also, pizzelle cookies freeze beautifully -- I usually make a double batch (or two) and package them up and put them in the freezer to give away later.

Here is the ingredients list again, doubled:
  • 1 c butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp anise extract
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 1/2  c flour

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