Pizzelles are the oldest known cookie from the mid-section of Italy. They were made many years ago for the “Festival of the Snakes” also known as the “Feast Day of San Domenico” in the Italian region of Abruzzo. The legend is that after the snakes were chased out of the Ortona village, everyone celebrated with pizzelle.
Pizzelles are known as Italian wafer cookies. The name comes from the Italian word “pizze” for round and flat. Pizzelles are eaten flat or folded into cone shapes that are filled.
Pizzelle makers are typically called irons, because the first ones were just that — irons that were forged by blacksmiths. Women would go to local blacksmiths, and ask them to make an iron with a design. Some irons would be made with family crests on them which would be passed down to each generation.
The cookie dough or batter is put onto a pizzelle iron. The pizzelle iron is held by hand over a hot burner on the stovetop, although some models today are electric and require no stove. The iron stamps a pattern into both sides of the thin golden-brown cookie.
When I was growing up, it was a real ordeal to make these cookies because my grandmother had the iron that heated on the stove top. It was messy and required finesse to manipulate it so you didn’t burn your fingers, hands, arms, well you get the picture. And the old-fashioned irons only made one pizzelle at a time. Well, if you are any kind of Italian, you have to make hundreds of these cookies for the holidays….. yes, it took ALL day.
I inherited the pizzelle iron from my mother but truthfully, I just couldn’t get up enough excitement to make these cookies with that old iron. I guess I remember too many years where it took forever to not only make the cookies, but to clean up afterwards – the iron and the stove top were a mess.
So when I found an electric pizzelle maker at a reasonable price (using a coupon of course) I had to buy it and try it. I had the best time making these cookies. Not only did it bring back memories of making pizzelle with my family, it was fun and easy, not a hot mess like back in the day.
For the first batch, I used the recipe that came with the pizzelle maker. My grandmother’s recipe is buried somewhere in my recipe files (you must understand that I have boxes of recipes). I have to say, these came out very good and the batter made 90 cookies. So a good start!