Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Almighty PIZZELLE

At this time of year, the almighty Pizzelle flourishes across the dessert tray of many Italian families. We all recognize them immediately: a flat, round-shaped cookie, almost resembling a waffle in some sense. Yet different..

When one sees this cookie, its appearance creates a bit of a fa├žade regarding its ingredients: after all, how much variation could go into a cookie that always seems to look like the same thing, when found in so many different families’ dessert lineups? They must all do theirs the same way, right? WRONG.

The ones that I had seen most prominently when growing up were the plain kind (more commonly known as “vanilla”), as well as an anisette-flavored kind, and I think on some occasions I’d learned that there was a lemon variant out there. However, in recent years I was introduced to a chocolate version that one of my cousins in the Ghione family likes to make. That was neat to see, because I only remember my mother doing the vanilla ones (or anisette, which look the same).

Over the years, I’ve always tried to take a moment to ask the baker what it was about their personal Pizzelles that they felt made theirs different from the others that were made out there. I don’t want to threaten the security of anyone’s family recipe secrets out there (you know how protective we Italians are of our recipes), but the answers that I got (which were few and, even provided conditionally, hehe) included all kinds of things from using a specific Pizzelle iron type, to totally ELIMINATING certain ingredients which others believe are mandatory to use in the make-up of the Pizzelle, to all kinds of little nuances. The art of making these cookies really does have an underground chain of customizations which, even though the cookie may LOOK the same as the Pizzelle type you know and love from your family, there just might be something different about that one at a friend’s or other family member’s.

There are also variations as to how that cookie should be, texturally- some believe it should be crunchy, so you can dip it in your coffee. Others believe it should be a softer cookie instead. There really are a lot of different ways to spin a Pizzelle! But at the end of the day, the important part is this: as long as you made some time to make some for the Holiday season, you’re good to go..


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