I was so excited to buy my first pizzelle press to make these cookies this year! My Auntie Deanna was kind enough to share her Nana’s (my Great Nana’s) pizzelle recipe and this beautiful family story, keeping her memory alive so many generations later.
“Christmastime ushers in familiar sights and sounds…and for me…smells. We often hear that certain smells will trigger within us a memory, and for me, that triggering smell is anise. One whiff and I am transported in time to Christmases past and my Nana’s basement kitchen. Nana’s basement was where our big Italian family would gather for Sunday dinners and all holidays, and while we were there weekly, there was something magical about Christmas. We would arrive at her home in the early evening hours, arms full of gifts for cousins and aunts and uncles and of course Nana and Papa. There was almost always snow on the ground and we were thankful for the warmth that greeted us when we opened the basement door. But what I remember most when walking through the door, was the smell of anise permeating the air. The smell that meant Nana was making pizzelles. We of course had all the usual Italian fare, lasagna, veal cutlets, green salad, but what I looked forward to was the pizzelles, a traditional Italian cookie that gets its unique flavor from anise extract. I would watch as Nana mixed up the dough and then scoop a small amount into her vintage pizzelle cookie press. The press made two cookies at a time. Nana would remove them from the press with a fork and place them on a plate and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar. We barely allowed them to cool off before we were snatching them from the plate. I knew when I got married that I wanted to continue the tradition of pizzelles at Christmas. I wanted my children to recognize the smell and have it stir memories as they grew older. While my cookie press isn’t vintage as my Nana’s was, the recipe is hers.”- Story and recipe from Deanna Hart (@deannamarkhart).
Ready in 40 minutes – Makes 36 cookies
To make this recipe you’ll need:
- 3 cups (480g) flour
- 1 1/2 cups (335g) sugar
- 2 sticks (227g) butter, softened
- 5 eggs
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) anise extract
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
Preheat pizzelle iron and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Wipe away excess.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. (Nana used to do this by hand, I use my stand mixer). The batter will be thick. Scoop a tablespoon full of batter and place in the center of each cookie plate.
Bake until golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from iron with a fork or non-stick utensil.
Cool completely on a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
- Deanna’s tip: Because my daughter has a gluten intolerance I have begun making batches of these with gluten free flour as well. I have found the Pillsbury Gluten Free all purpose flour works well.