Truth: Baking and cooking are the only holiday chores that do not make my blood pressure rise. So it is with great joy that I have entered the week of creating cookie deliciousness.
Elvis on the stereo, leopard ho-ho-ho hat slightly askew, wine on the side and the kid tucked snug in his bed, visions of trains and Legos dancing in his head. Now, this. This the Jersey Girl can deal with.
So here goes with my pizzelles. If you don't know what a pizzelle is, you've obviously never rocked out Christmas in Jersey. It's a traditional Italian waffle cookie, or as my big boy Evan calls them, snowflake cookies.
According to legend, I mean my very opinionated family, the best pizzelles are thin as paper and are so delicate and crispy that you must handle them with the utmost level of care.
The original recipe can be found on a vanilla-stained, time-worn faded light blue index card that was always stowed away in my Mom's index-card recipe box on the top shelf of her corner kitchen cabinet. The one with the lazy-Susan, above the coffee pot.
As is the case in many of the gems you will find in the box, now located in Florida, the "recipe" is merely a list of ingredients in no particularly important order. But as we know, nothing can be left to chance when baking. It's all about instinct. Precision. A feeling.
Of course, I will share with you my process. But, I must warn you dear readers, your pizzelles won't ever match mine. Not because of my fine baking prowess or stellar kitchen skills. No, sir. You see, when my parents left our childhood home for sunnier skies down south, my Mom would sneak into my house many of her "treasures." Pink Santa Claus circa 1985, harvest gold Tupperware circa 1972 and a pizzelle iron circa older than dirt. It is magical. Truly. I am completely convinced that the only reason my pizzelles are anything to write home about is because they are made on the gadget that I have treasured for my entire life.
6 extra large eggs at room temperature
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 lb. margarine melted and cooled (2 sticks)
4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract or anise
Preheat pizzelle iron.
In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
In a large mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and margarine until smooth. One at a time, add eggs and continue beating on medium-low speed. Add vanilla or anise (I use vanilla). Add flour mixture a cup at a time while mixer is beating slowly. Stop occasionally to scrape sides. Continue until flour is all completely added.
When ready to bake, place one teaspoon on each side of pizzelle iron. Press down iron for about 60 seconds. Remove from iron with the help of a fork. Lie flat on paper towels to cool. Once cool, the pizzelles can be piled up to make space for more.