Recipe: Italian Cookies for the Holidays
Right after Thanksgiving, my boys prepare for Christmas with the familiar questions, “Is there eggnog in the stores yet?” and remind me of the cookies they plan to make. Baking for hours is an involved process we all love, and my boys take on more responsibility for baking now that they are more experienced in the kitchen. I no longer worry that the beater will be lifted out of the bowl, spattering dough on the shutters right as my husband walks in from work (it was chocolate dough when that happened). My youngest has put a claim on Grandma’s chocolate cookies while my oldest stakes his tradition on Nana’s pizzelles.
Both my grandmother and mother made pizzelles every year, and handed the pizzelle maker to me several years ago. It was supposed to be a one-year commitment and then I’d pass it on to my sisters, but I can’t give it up. Each December, we dust off the pizzelle iron and carefully pull out the yellowed directions from 1967.
We start by mixing the batter and letting it rest in the refrigerator overnight. A full batch includes a dozen eggs, sugar, and oil. The biggest decision we have to make is whether to stick with tradition or be adventurous. We honor tradition—anise and lemon it is.
Part of the appeal of the cookies is counting how many we make. Italians are always cooking for an army and these cookies reflect that: over 100 cookies per batch, even subtracting the broken ones. When my boys were little, I was always up until 10 p.m. making the cookies once they were tucked into bed. I love that we work together now.
Each one takes a job assignment. One pours the batter into the pizzelle maker, checks for doneness, and removes them from the maker. The other carefully trims the edges to make each cookie a circle. Once cooled, the cookies are counted and moved to a plastic container for storage. A separate container stores the crumbs, which is magically emptied by the end of the night.
Making cookies together is a great way to pass along family traditions. Pizzelles are great on their own with a glass of milk or a latte. Or, try what my growing tween and teen like best:two pizzelles with eggnog ice cream sandwiched between.
1 cup Unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup Margarine
4 cups Granulated sugar
12 Large eggs
1 teaspoon Anise extract
- 10 to 12 cups Flour
Special equipment: Pizzelle Iron
Cream together butter, margarine, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add anise extract. Begin adding flour 1 cup at a time. You want a thick, but not dry, dough. You may or may not use all of the flour. Store in refrigerator, ideally overnight, to allow flavors to blend.
Heat pizzelle iron until light goes off. Roll dough into walnut-size balls. Press slightly flat between your palms and place one on each side of pizzelle iron. Leave iron pressed down for a few minutes. Remove pizzelle to flat surface to cool. Transfer and store in container, even a box, to keep crisp.
What are your family’s favorite cookies to make during the holidays?
Trina Robertson, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. As a HealthyEating.org Mom she shares her positive approach to healthy eating with the goal of inspiring others to prepare and enjoy foods from each of the food groups. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates, and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. At home she enjoys cooking and sharing meals with her family. Her most rewarding accomplishment is that her boys are good eaters and are learning to cook. Follow Trina on Twitter @TrinaR_RD and find more Healthy Eating ideas on Facebook.