One of my favorite cookies is the pizzelle. I grew up eating them whenever we went to Pittsburgh for holidays and they are indelibly associated with Christmas and Easter in my mind. The aunts would make huge cookie platters for the holidays, especially Christmas and we always went home with a generous assortment. In more recent years my Aunt would receive a huge tin of them for her birthday or Christmas that she would reluctantly share with me. Last years pickings were slim and I realized that I would have to take the reins and finally begin making my own. After much consideration I ordered the Villaware Prego nonstick pizzelle maker. On the plus side, cookies don't stick, on the minus side there is no timer. I quickly learned that you don't need one, you just need to listen to the sizzle. When it begins to die down, the cookie is done. They say this takes 30 seconds but depending on how much color you like in your cookie it could take as long as 45 seconds. Once you get a rhythm going it's easy.
Then I needed a recipe. The pizzelles I grew up on are made with Crisco and I wanted to experiment with butter. I just think cookies made with butter taste better. So I went to Betty, Betty Crocker that is. I have the 40th anniversary edition and though my book is not beautiful, the cookie section is well used. I've learned that if I use butter wherever it says shortening and add a bit of salt wherever there is none, I can hardly go wrong. So there I went for my pizzelles and unsurprisingly, I was not disappointed.
The last ingredient that took these cookies over the top was the vanilla. I was shopping in Home Goods, what can I say, I'm a bargain hunter at heart, and I came across Nielsen Massey's vanilla bean paste. I love this stuff, I use it in all my cookies now. It has a wonderful flavor and there's something about being able to see all those vanilla flecks that makes my cookies taste better. The pizelles were yummy straight off the iron but as they sat overnight the flavors developed and this morning they were crisp bites of buttery, vanilla goodness. Alex even liked them and that's saying a lot.
Pizzelles (adapted from Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary cookbook)
Makes about 3-3.5 dozen cookies
2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or extract)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Turn on your pizzelle make so it can heat up while you make the dough. Put the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Add the butter, vanilla and eggs and stir well with a rubber spatula to blend. This will make for a stiff batter/very soft dough. Use a sorbet scoop to put 1 tablespoon of batter in the center of each cookie mold. Gently close the lid completely and cook for 30-45 seconds. Repeat until all the batter has been used up.