My family's anise pizzelle recipe is a classic for these thin crisp waffle cookies. Using anise oil for flavour, this recipe has been passed down for generations. I'll share tips and tricks for these Italian favourites.
What are Pizzelles?
Well, firstly, to be precise - the plural is pizzelle, the singular is technically pizzella. Not that it really matters when it comes to eating one of my favourite cookies!
Pizzelle are Italian waffle cookies, made using an iron press.
It is shockingly difficult to get your hands on a pizzelle iron in the UK. Mine comes from C. Palmer Mfg. in the US and was shipped over by my parents many years ago. I learned the hard way that using electrical appliances between the two countries is not always straightforward and nearly blew it up. But, luckily, the iron (and my kitchen) survived. Many years and the purchase of a voltage transformer later, I'm now able to make pizzelle again!
Ingredients for Anise Pizzelle
To make my family's recipe you'll need:
- Flour - you can use either all-purpose flour or plain flour in this recipe.
- Baking powder
- Sugar - caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar.
- Butter - unsalted and softened to room temperature or melted.
- Anise extract - you could also use anise oil or aniseed flavouring, though if using pure anise oil, reduce the amount to half a tablespoon.
Mixing Pizzelle Batter
Pizzelle batter is basically the same as any other bake - start with creaming your sugar and butter. Add your eggs and flavouring. Then sift in your flour and baking powder.
You should end up with a thick dough - a bit more runny than a classic cookie dough, but a bit thicker than pancake batter.
Tips to Pressing Pizzelle
So using the pizzelle iron takes a bit of time to finesse. The key is to start by heating it up. Leave the iron on to warm while you prepare the batter.
In my family, we never grease the iron - no spraying or oiling should be necessary. Simply discard the first two pizzelle.
Dollop about a tablespoon of the batter into the centre of each mould. Then press the top firmly closed and latch this. The trick to full even pizzelles is to make sure to clasp the iron shut - this firmly presses the sides together and helps the batter spread more evenly over the entire mould.
Leave the iron sealed for about 30 seconds before unlatching, releasing and carefully detaching the cookies.
Common Issues with Pizzelle
There are some common issues you might encounter when making pizzelle:
- You will most likely have a bit of batter squeeze out around the edges. This can be removed with a knife while the cookies are cooking. Simply scrape round the outside of the iron while this is latched shut.
- The first pizzelle in particular will stick a bit. This is why they're best discarded. If you struggle with them sticking, as long as you're not using a non-stick iron, you can dislodge with a knife or toothpick. Take care as the iron will be very hot.
- Pizzelle often stick together in the mould. When removing, score down the middle to separate the two before carefully removing from the iron. This makes it easier than trying to remove two together.
- The cookies cool extremely quickly, so to ensure flat pizzelle, you will want to remove and immediately lay flat either on a wire rack of piece of parchment. If you bend them they will quickly set with curves.
Flavour Options for Pizzelle
My family's pizzelle are anise based. This is the traditional flavour for the cookie and is very subtle. If you are not familiar with anise, I would recommend giving it a try!
If you do not like anise flavouring or do not have any extract available, you can easily substitute for different flavours. For example try:
- Vanilla extract - substituting vanilla in place of the anise extract will provide lovely vanilla pizzelle.
- Lemon extract - for a zesty citrus biscuit, try making lemon pizzelle by replacing the anise extract with lemon extract.
- Almond extract - another great flavour option for these cookies is almond. Almond pizzelle are easily made by substituting the flavouring with almond extract.
Making Pizzelle Cones
Classic pizzelle are served as thin waffle cookies. These are flat and essentially a thin pressed cookie wafer. An alternative option for serving is to make these into cones or cannoli shapes (a bit like brandy snaps).
In order to do this, you must act quickly when removing the pizzelle from the iron. Immediately roll into your desired shape. The cookies cool very quickly, so once rolled, you should be able to release and they will hold their shape without needing additional moulds.
Take care not to roll too tightly or they will split.
FAQs for Anise Pizzelle
Pizzelle are surprisingly easy to keep fresh. My family always used to store them in a tin, lined with parchment paper and they will stay good for days if not weeks. We've even been known to eat them months later, though I don't necessarily recommend that for peak freshness!
Yes, pizzelle can be frozen. Allow them to cool first before placing wrapping or placing in a ziploc bag to freeze. Since the cookies themselves are fairly fragile, thin wafer cookies, be gentle when bagging them and store stacked in the freezer. Allow to defrost before consuming.
Firstly, I always make a bit of a mess when I make pizzelle so don't worry too much there! If you're finding that they are sticking, you may not be cooking them quite long enough. Make sure you're clamping the press down tightly and try giving them a few extra seconds. The cookies should release more easily from the hot press when they are baked through.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
Classic Anise Pizzelle Recipe
- pizzelle iron
- 6 eggs
- 4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon anise extract or ½ tablespoon anise oil
- 3½ cups all purpose flour or plain flour
- 1½ cup sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature or melted
- Begin by making the pizzelle batter. Cream together the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the eggs (two at a time) and beat after each addition.
- Then add the anise extract and beat to incorporate.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate - making sure there are no pockets of unmixed flour.
- Heat the pizzelle iron. Once this is hot, dollop out about a tablespoon into the middle of each mould space. Press the iron lid firmly shut and latch this. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds before unlatching and lifting the lid. Carefully remove the pizzelle from the press. Discard the first two. Repeat the process and place pizzelle a piece of parchment paper or wire rack to cool. Repeating until done with the batter.