Friday, December 9, 2011

COOKIE CHRONICLES - Pitzelles

Pitzelles are a family tradition in many homes over the holidays.  And why not?  They're light, sweet but not too sweet and have a distinct anise flavor.  They can be served solo or if rolled into a cone shape while still warm, they can be used as a unique flavored ice cream cone.

This recipe comes from my mother, who probably got it from my Aunt Virginia who cooked real Italian for Uncle Rocky.

Things to remember about Pitzelles:
1) When they are first made they are pliable until they dry.  This can be good - like if you want to make them into cones or tubes for filling with ice cream or piped sweetened ricotta or whatever.

2) The batter should be runny.  If it isn't, your cookies will be gummy or chewy rather than crisp and firm.   The batter should literally pour like crepe batter because underneath it all that's what it is!

3) Pitzelles can be easily over-cooked.  They can also be easily undercooked. Try a few "practice presses" to get the hang of it.  Cooking time will vary depending on what you're using.  The electronic Pitzelle irons are nifty and most, like their close relation the waffle iron, have some sort of thermostatic light to let you know when they're done. 
   Heartier souls who like to go "old school" may opt for the stove top manual press.  Its harder to determine when the cookie is done and can be very labor intensive, but hey!  That's how they did it in the old days, and how some still do it today. 

If you don't like anise or want to change things up, try adding cocoa powder or cinnamon or what ever else might strike your fancy - providing it doesn't interfere with the integrity of the dough!

PITZELLES
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, anise or what ever
1 1/2 cup flour

Sift flour, blend all ingredients. Drop by 1/2 teaspoon onto hot iron. Cook until golden brown. Shape into cones, tubes or leave flat. Dry on a rack.  Store in a dry place.
Pitzelle - photo from Wikipedia

You may notice the photo credit for the cooked Pitzelle goes to Wikipedia.  That's because I didn't get the chance to make 'em this year.  I tried, but found that my waffle iron is no substitute for a real Pitzelle cooker.
It actually got pretty messy, so I decided to hold off on making them until I have the proper iron.

At that time, I'll let you know if Pitzelle dough freezes well or not....because that's where the dough is right now, in the freezer.  This experiment should be interesting. 

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts, recipes, ideas and memories.  And as always, Enjoy!