When you enjoy all four seasons in Canada, you learn that each season has its own sweet spot. Summer’s best time is the end of June when everything is in bloom but the stifling heat of July hasn’t chased you indoors. Fall is wonderful, right when the leaves turn and the cool breeze first fills your lungs for the first time in months. Winter is beautiful during the first couple of snowfalls then it comes at you with all it’s icy, cold force. Between fall and winter – those rainy, damp late November days – the skies are grey and you realize summer is long gone. So you wait by the window for the first picture-perfect snow, those big fluffy flakes that land on the window, resting just long enough that you can see the crystals in full form.
I say: why wait for it? On those grey days, I get to baking, and, well, make my own snowflakes. In the form of pizzelle. These thin biscuits are simple to make, so long as you have the pizzelle iron, and resemble snowflakes so much to me that I really only get the craving for them in the winter. The easy batter can take on flavours, the cookies themselves can be molded into shapes, and each one comes out the press unique – each their own special snowflake.
I’m trying to be positive, that is, calling each one unique. I used to try as hard as I could to get each one perfect – filled fully to the edges and not over to get each full pattern. Trying this will drive you crazy. You have to love the pizzelle for what they are – handmade snowflakes that disappear as soon as you make them, gobbled up by you and anyone you serve them to. A great staple for the Christmas cookies trays, but also a simple cookie to have around for coffee, pizzelle are popular and there’s a lot of recipes for them. But I would be remiss not to include them here on the blog. Plus, it also gave me a chance to photograph my mom’s pizzelle maker, I love it’s tarnished, well-loved look.
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla (you may opt for other extracts like anise, almond, coconut, etc.)
1 pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Plug in the pizzelle maker to get it warming. Mine has no on/off button – it’s just on once the power is headed to it!
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until well mixed and smooth. Add the flour and stir until just moistened. The batter will have the consistency of a very thick pancake batter or very thin cookie dough.
With the pizzelle iron heated, place about one tablespoon of the batter onto each circle. Close the iron and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the pizzelle are lightly golden brown. You’re going to have to really wait that minute or two – you don’t want to open the iron too early – but then act fast when you open it up. If you see it nicely lightly golden, remove them immediately with tongs onto a wire rack or cool tray.
The pizzelle are soft when they come out of the iron but cool down and harden quickly.I like the traditional shape but if you want to mold them to make something like a cannoli, or bowl, you can do this as soon as they are ready. You can roll it by hand into a tube or cone (and later, fill it with cream or custard) or drape it over an upturned muffin tin to make bowls that can hold ice cream or fruit. You’ll have to accept that the first few that you try to form will be trial-runs, but as soon as you get the hang of it, you’ll see how quick the process will go.
The beauty of simple recipes like this is just how flexible they are to your own creativity. Not only can you shape them – you can flavour them too. Different extracts add different twists of flavours. Add some cocoa to make them chocolate. Sprinkle some nuts on to the batter before you close the iron for some extra crunch. You can opt to cook them a little less or make the batter a bit thicker (with a bit more flour) to have a softer version. Sandwich two together with caramel or chocolate in the middle. Make them your own!