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Oven-Baked Pizzelles Are The Sweet Shortcut To Your Favorite Italian Cookie

Delish 9/26/2022 Francesca Zani

Pizzelles originate from Abruzzuo, Italy, a region where part of my family stems from. It’s no wonder my mother makes these every Christmas. Many call these the oldest cookie in the world—maybe to the Italians—with a crunchy or soft exterior and beautiful lace design. "Pizze" means round, and "elle" means small, so guess what, the name derives from these two words combined… genius. These thin waffle-like cookies are in the same family as Swiss bratseli and French pirouettes because the batter is typically thin and the cookie is pliable once released from the iron before it turns crunchy. Not entirely traditional, but these can also sub in for cannoli shells.

You might compare pizzelles to waffles or snowflakes. Pizzelles are known for their whimsical design and patterns engraved on what look like waffle irons. My mom uses a modern one that’s simply plugged into the wall, but some are cooked on the stovetop. I always imagine these cookies to be strictly about the thin, crispy break, but these are made to be softer, which is great because the oven-baked cookies are borderline crispy and soft.

How do I shape them?

Most people who are familiar with pizzelles won’t associate them with the oven. But because not everyone is going to get their hands on a specialty pizzelle waffle iron—unless it was passed down from generations of grandparents—then how do you make them? With the additional flour in this recipe, the batter is thicker and more pliable. I wanted to keep the integrity of the classic cookie imprints, so I used cookie stamps; however, if that’s too much work, you can simply roll out the dough and shape them as you want. The cookies don’t spread too much in the oven, so their shape will hold up well.

Do I have to use anise extract?

Anise or licorice is a popular flavor in these cookies, but if you’re appalled by the taste of licorice, vanilla will do. Some may flavor these cookies with orange or lemon too. Chocolate might even be an acceptable choice.

How should I decorate the pizzelles?

Traditionally these cookies are dusted with powdered sugar. If you want to give them a pretty glaze, whisk 2 teaspoons whole milk (or any type of milk) into 6 tablespoons powdered sugar. Then using a spoon or whisk, drizzle the cookies with the glaze.

How do I store the pizzelles?

Pizzelles have a decent shelf life. To keep them tasting fresh and crunchy, stack them between pieces of parchment in an airtight container. They can also be popped in the freezer for a few months or left on the counter for a few days.

Yields: 17-19

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 c.

    (240 g.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1/3 c.

    (65 g.) granulated sugar

  • 1/4 tsp.

    baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp.

    kosher salt

  • 2

    large eggs, room temperature

  • 1/2 c.

    (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • 3/4 tsp.

    anise extract

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, butter, and anise to combine. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir until incorporated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Roll dough into 1-ounce balls (about 1 heaping tablespoon), lightly dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Arrange balls prepared sheets and slightly flatten with the palm of your hand. If you’re using a cookie stamp, press into dough to create an indentation.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating sheets top to bottom halfway through, until lightly golden on the bottom and edges are crispy, 20 to 22 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely on sheets. Dust with powdered sugar.
OVEN BAKED PIZZELLES © PHOTO; ERIK BERNSTEIN; FOOD STYLIST; MAKINZE GORE OVEN BAKED PIZZELLES
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