Friday, December 24, 2010


Shopping is done; packages finally wrapped; and my thoughts tonight turned to some last minute baking.  My most favorite Christmas memories of years gone by, involve Pizzelles.  A thin, flat, anise favored Italian cookie.  My family heritage includes no Italian, other than that of which I married into, but instead, Swedish, English, Irish, and that good ol' Heinz 57 mix!

My mother and grandmother taught me how to make these when I was growing up (my grandmother had learned from some Italian women in the neighborhood) - the old fashioned way, which involved long handled, cast iron, single cookie molds that had to be used on my grandmother's gas stove.  Many, many hours were involved in the making of these, with grandpa coming in occasionally, from the big garage he owned, to make sure we were doing it right.  The old way involved dropping spoonfuls of yellow batter onto the center of an iron (Mom and Grandma would "double team" it, with an iron apiece); holding one side of the iron over the flame until just the right moment (they had it down to a science); and then flipping the iron over so that both sides baked equally.
Our move to Vegas in '94 found me with an updated version of my grandmother's favorite gas appliance...perfect for pizzelles - but instead, I purchased an electric, two cookie, non-stick pizzelle iron.  I had inherited my husband's grandmother's iron upon marrying into the family, and had made them that way, myself, for years - even figuring out that I could actually use my electric range to make them with the old iron.  My recipe makes twelve dozen cookies (144), that would SERIOUSLY take me 7 hours.  My electric iron has shaved 5-1/2 hours off that time.  My house will smell like these cookies for DAYS, now - that's a memory in and of itself! 
My same grandmother also had the most beautiful Christmas Cactus, up the creaky old, narrow stairs in her house; under the light that hung from a cord that you had to pull on the chain to turn on; on the table in her bedroom window.  She had it for as long as I could remember - it was massive, and it was beautiful!  A few weeks ago, I chanced upon one sitting at the grocery store, ready to bloom, and loaded with just about a hundred buds - it started opening up last week - just wanted to share.  My daughter made the other memory this year - the beautiful Victorian gingerbread house.

Here's wishing you lots of your own Christmas memories - make some new ones this holiday season (my own daughter is in on all the cookie baking now) and, most certainly, cherish the old.  My Mom (and Dad) are in Denver - she still makes her Pizzelles, though she has retired the old iron for an electric one, also.  And I know Grandma is in both kitchens, helping out, this time of year...Merry Christmas, to you and yours - may it be happy, and safe!

Grandma Rhyno's Pizzelles
2 tsp. Oil of Anise
6 eggs
2 cubes butter
1-1/2 C. sugar
4 C. flour
(This is the recipe my Mom still uses to this day - it makes a little thicker version of the cookie.  My husband likes his a little thinner, so I use the second version lately, given to us by a "little old lady in Denver" - seriously how I refer to the recipe.  Anise Oil (the "good stuff", and not Anise Flavoring), can be purchased from most Italian Deli's, or your local pharmacist.

The Little Old Lady's Pizzelle Recipe
1-1/2 C. Wesson Oil
1 dozen eggs
2 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. Oil of Anise
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
4 C. flour
(This is the recipe that makes 12 dozen)


Ahl Cooped Up said...

I love your post. My Mother's neighbor makes Pizzelle's every year, and gives her some.
We make Stroopnypers, a Dutch cookie that is made one at a time with an old iron on the stove. Its not Christmas without them, or the Dutch butter cookies.
Merry Christmas!

Norine ~rosethoughts~ said...

The anise pizelle scent has been wafting through our house for over 2 weeks now. I sent out over 150 pizelles as gifts this year and today I am making them just for Sam and I.
Tanya, I am just about out of the wonderful anise "oil" you gave me.
I use my Father in law's iron that was given to me after he passed. He and I would sit for hours together in his kitchen when Sam and I were first together...I think this was his way of "bonding" with his future daughter in law.
I'm with Lou and prefer the thinner pizelles (and more anise please!)
Merry Christmas!

Jackie said...

I had never heard of them...I do lead a sheltered life...I can't wait to try one!!
Your photo is great!

Hopewell Creek Designs said...

Oh Tanya that was so wonderful. I really enjoyed your post and someday I will have to try and make those.Yes old memories and traditions are really the best part of the holidays.

The Primitive Bucket said...

Those look to pretty to eat and Jaci's house is amazing. Good work ALL of you!!