Pizzelle | Italian Waffle Cookies

Pizzelle | Italian Waffle Cookies

These traditional Italian waffle cookies are popular in Italy during the Christmas and Easter holidays, but to me, pizzelle are special all year long.

Mama, can you tell me a story from when you were little?

It’s a question she asks me many nights, after I’ve tucked her in, read stories, and cuddled. It’s the question she asks right before she asks for that final glass of water, before she finally resigns herself to saying goodnight. The ritual may be a way to eke out a few more minutes to avoid bedtime, but I don’t mind. It’s our little moment, where she hears about my life as it were when I was her age, and I open up the vault of memories, unearthing favorite moments to share, some nearly forgotten.

By now, my daughter knows that my summers were spent outdoors, in the back yard. I would pick lilies of the valley and hunt for Smurfs among the mushrooms and moss. I would hide in the snow pea vines that climbed over the net my mother fashioned, with walls, roof and even an opening for a door. In here, I could find a cool refuge with my book as the temperatures and humidity soared. I would pick the snow peas for my mom, who tended that garden so lovingly, it was almost one of our siblings.

We lived in a typical New York neighborhood; at the time, the tree lined street was home to mostly Irish and Italian families. Next door to us, lived (and still does, to this day) a family with three adult sons. Mrs. B, as I called the mother, was the typical Italian neighbor, and I would sneak peeks at her cooking at her stove when the side door was open. Like good neighbors, we would share food. If we were grilling, we would send over skewers of tender marinated pork, or some extra fish from our weekend of fishing on Long Island. Mrs. B would walk over with all kinds of treats, but nothing would excite me more than her Pizzelle.

She would call to me in the garden over our low fence, and I would skip at the sight of the foil wrapped plate. Underneath the shiny covering was a stack of warm, crisp and perfectly formed cookies, fresh from the Pizzelle iron. The cookies were oval, the size of plates, with delicate waffling. In the center was a square, with a boy and a girl facing one another. I would run my fingers over the little figures, feeling the bumps of their heads. I always wished I could join them in their little vignette.

I would take one cookie for myself and bring the rest into the house to my mom. Back in my little snow pea clubhouse, I would nibble the delicate pizzella, working my way around to the square. I used to imagine that Mrs. B had an ancient Pizzelle baker, hefty and straight from Italy, since I had never seen one anywhere. I never did get a chance to see it.

Pizzelle | Italian Waffle Cookies | Kitchen Confidante

Decades later, and I never did forget about Mrs. B’s Pizzelle. When I saw a pizzelle baker a couple of months ago, I jumped at the chance to try my hand at making my own. But life got a little busy and my new toy sat in the cabinet for a few weeks, at least until my story reminded me. The following weekend, I pulled out the Pizzelle iron. I stirred the dough. And I pressed. As the scent of vanilla traveled, my kids came downstairs to investigate.

How do you say it again, Mama?

Pit-zelleh, I coached.

Pit-zelleh, they repeated.

Molto bene! Very good! I laughed.

Yeah, these Pizzelle are molto belly, Mama, my son proclaimed.

Molto belly. I think Mrs. B would agree.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

Pizzelle {Italian Waffle Cookies}

20-24 cookies

These traditional waffle cookies are popular in Italy during the Christmas and Easter holidays, but growing up, I was oblivious to this. Pizzelle to me meant summer, since this is when Mrs. B most often made them. And why not? It makes perfect sense to me now — light and airy, these cookies are made on a pizzelle baker, very similar to a waffle iron, so there is no need to heat up the kitchen by firing up the oven.

I distinctly remember her cookies as very crispy, with a lot of snap. These are crisp but definitely more tender, and keep well wrapped in aluminum foil. They taste great both ways. You can experiment by shaping them as they cool, too.

Ingredients

3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions

Melt the butter and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and sugar with an electric beater until light in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the melted butter and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Fold in the flour mixture into the batter in two additions. The cookie batter will be sticky.

Preheat the Pizzelle iron. Using a small ice cream scoop or some spoons, place about a tablespoon of batter close to the center of the pattern, just a tad higher to allow for the batter spreading when you close the waffle lid. Let it bake for 35 seconds, until golden brown and crispy. Use a spatular to transfer the hot Pizzelle to a wire rack to cool completely. Continue with remaining batter.

Comments

  1. Cassie

    These are beautiful. We make them around the holidays, but call them French Cookies. Your recipe is very similar (my family has always sneaked in a little bourbon!)

    Reply
    • Liren

      I love the bourbon addition! Will definitely play around with *that* next time :)

  2. Andrea Wong - So D'lish

    What a beautiful picture you paint! These pizzelli look so delectable. I also love the idea of your mum’s for the snow pea frame/house – a great way to incorporate a playhouse into a functional garden :)

    Reply
    • Liren

      I always wondered if my mom had planned that out for me or more for the snow peas :) Either way, we both benefited – for a little girl, it was magical :)

  3. Maja

    I love Pizzelle since I had them in Roma. Amazing pictures!
    Thanks for sharing :)

    Reply
  4. Cheryl

    I have four Pizzelle machines and none of them make Pizzelles as perfect as the ones in your photos. What kind of machine was used to make them?

    (On my site, you’ll see the four Pizzelle machines and the results.)

    I’d love to make them with the scalloped edges.

    Reply
  5. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Hi Liren! I’ve seen Pizzelle for the first time from an Italian’s blogger’s site last year and I was so surprised how beautiful these waffle cookies are. I think she didn’t have an iron, it was more like old fashion kind. I would love to have this iron (and surprised it’s not as expensive as I thought – hehe I already googled it), but I’ll be eating non stop… I love waffle textures. But oh my…these look just beautiful! Your photos make it extra special too!

    Reply
  6. Norma

    Liren keep those memories going…building a strong relationship is so important…

    You are just a lovely person…just like these delicate pizzells….

    Reply
  7. natasha

    when you say “melted butter” do you mean melted in the microwave or just melted in a room temperature? how melted is it supposed to be? sorry if my quastion is dumb..:)
    thank you

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Natasha, don’t even apologize! Melted butter — yes, you can either melt it in the microwave or on the stovetop in a saucepan. Hope that helps :)

  8. Cristina

    Liren, your Pizzelles turned out so perfect. I’ve been wanting one of these irons for years, but have yet to make the investment. They must smell so good when cooking. I may just have to save my pennies for an iron this year. Thanks for sharing and the inspiration.

    Reply
  9. Donna

    Loving this version…my old florentine one…scribbled out years ago…used olive oil instead of butter….Is it superior with butter?..It has anis or fennel seeds as well…I use an old-fashioned pizzelle iron that is placed directly over the flame…Thank you for your continuous beautiful prose, photography and delicious recipes.

    Reply
  10. Cynthia

    I LOVE my Pizzelle Maker! I bought my daughter one, too. We make them every Christmas. I am making my Pizzelles this Sunday (If I make them too early hubby will eat them all before Christmas Day). I like making several batches with different flavors, too.

    Reply
  11. Jan

    What brand of iron did you use? I am ready for a new one and your cookies came out perfect!

    Reply
    • liren

      Hi Jan! My pizzelle iron is made by CucinaPro. Hope that helps, have fun shopping for a new one!

  12. Priscila

    I dont have a pizzelle iron not even waffle… humf! is it possible to use a simple pan?

    Reply
    • Liren

      Hi Priscila, it is possible, but without a heating element from both sides, the cookie will probably not have the thin crispness — it will be more like a pancake (but a tasty one!). I hope that helps, let me know how it turns out for you!

  13. ann rimene

    please where can I buy pizzelle cooker in New Zealand?

    Reply
  14. mere

    If my great grandma heard you say air tight container she’d smack the table and say ‘what’s a matta for you!’ (She was very old and off the boat :) )
    Wrap them in foil! They will keep 10x as long!  The plastic wrap or Tupperware makes them mushy. 

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      I can just hear her! You’re right! She’s right :) That explains why my neighbor always gave it to us wrapped in foil. Thanks for the tip!

  15. Tatyana

    What kind of other flavor can you put in the dough? I make these but roll them kinda like a canoli and then make a filling. Sooo good!

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      So many possibilities! Almond extract, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or even some interesting savory/herb flavors might be interesting!

  16. Deb

    Hi, these are traditional Christmas cookies in our family.  We use anise flavoring and they have a distint flavor.  

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      I love using anise, too, Deb! Definitely one of my favorite cookies to make during the holidays.

  17. Ai Jen

    I have made these for 50 years! LOVE THEM! I have always used anise oil for myself, as it was what I grew up with, though I make vanilla for friends. On my third pizzelle iron!

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      Wow, third pizzelle iron! I agree, the anise flavor is definitely what I grew up eating too, but my children and friends also prefer the vanilla. Can’t go wrong either way :)

Kitchen Confidante