~ Savory Pecorino & Pepper Mini-Pizzelle Snackers~
'Tis the season for cookie baking, and, if you own a pizzelle iron, it undoubtedly is or will be out on your kitchen counter. Pizzelle, which is plural for pizzella (pronounced "pit-sell" with a "ts" sound like in "pizza") are large, thin, crisp, embossed wafer cookies that are formed using a special iron. It is said they were born in central Italy, in or around Rome, and were served to honor important government celebrations and family weddings because they were so beautiful to look at (not to mention delicious). Historically, each family's pizzelle iron was embossed in the center with the family crest or other symbols of specific meaning, which indicated that each cookie was made by hand, and, these irons were passed down from generation to generation.
Antique irons are very hard to find and can be quite expensive, $100-$300. The traditional iron is made of cast-iron, and in effect is a double skillet intended to be held over an open flame. Modern versions of these are easily found and cost much less, $50-$70. They are lightweight, easy to maneuver and are simply held over a hot burner of the modern-day stovetop. That said:
For $50-70 you can buy an electric pizzelle iron, like mine, which is pictured here. I t works like a waffle iron and I would never consider trading it for a traditional iron. Once it is preheated, I place my cookie dough on the surface, close the lid, and, in less than one minute, a perfectly baked pizzella emerges. A little red light on top even blinks on to tell me when the cookie is done. Did I forget to mention how much easier the after-baking cleanup is? These machines are seriously well-worth the investment.
Note: While all brands work on the same principle, similar to a waffle iron, the shape and surface area varies from manufacturer to manufacturer -- some make smaller cookies, some make larger cookies. This means you will have to experiment and adjust the amount of cookie dough you use, via a smaller or larger cookie scoop, to avoid cookies that end up too small and not completely formed, or, cookies that bake with excess dough spilling over the sides.
Meet my mini-pizzelle iron!
I bought this machine two years ago because it makes small, 3"-round pizzelle, which are perfect cookies for making ice-cream sandwiches. Then, back in early November, I wrote a series of posts about "savory cookies": ~ Home for the Holidays, The Cheese Cracker Tray ~ can be found in Categories 1, 2 or 11. Pictured here are my Brie Shortbread, Cheddar Cheese Sticks, and, Gorgonzola Wafers. Needless to say, these were the inspiration for my new: Pecorino & Pepper Mini-Pizzelle Snackers!
It's crunch time -- If you're still looking for one more holiday snack to serve, these easy, cheesey, cripsy treats are it!
These cheesey, peppery, pizzelle "snackers" (short for "snack cracker") are so much better than a plain cracker, and, oh boy, they're even better with a slather of any kind of herby cream cheese dip or soft, spreadable cheese -- Boursin for example, or, even better, ~ Mel's Herbaceous Holiday Cream Cheese Spread ~. My spread is pictured in all of my photos and the recipe can be found by clicking on the Related Article link below. Snackers are easy to make, and, the recipe doubles, triples or quadruples with ease, so, in a short amount of time you can make a big batch -- they'll keep stored in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks (if they last that long)!
1/2 cup salted butter, melted and cooled about 5 minutes
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely-grated and lightly-packed Locatelli cheese, or your favorite high-quality Pecorino Romano (Note: The tangy, slightly bold and salty flavor of Pecorino Romano is perfect for these snackers. I always use a microplane grater to get the necessary fine texture.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (a blend of rosemary, majoram, thyme and savory)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
~ Step 2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cracked black pepper, herbes de Provence, onion powder and salt. Set aside.
Turn the mixer off and drizzle in the melted butter. On medium speed, blend in the butter, until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.
~ Step 4. Add the flour mixture -- all at once is ok. Over medium-low speed of mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl constantly with a rubber spatula, beat until a soft, slightly-sticky but workable dough forms, about 30-45 seconds. Allow dough to rest for 5-6 minutes.
If you place each scoop of dough in the center, but, towards the back of each grid (rather than spot on in the center), when the lid closes, the dough will spread forward evenly into each grid and you will get nicely- and fully-formed pizzelle -- you can thank me later!
~ Step 6. Close the lid on the iron and secure the clasp to lock the handles. Bake for about 50 seconds. Unlock and open the lid, pizzelle will be barely or lightly-browned. This is how I like mine baked. Five to ten seconds longer will result in more browning, so, suit yourself. Using a small spatula remove pizzelle to a cooling rack.
Tip from Mel: Hot off the iron, pizzelle are firm but pliable (they crisp up as they cool), and, they cool very quickly, within 2-3 minutes. If you are a perfectionist like me, use a pair of kitchen shears to trim the raggedy ends. Do this within the first 30-40 seconds off the grids -- they won't be too hot to handle. Waste not, want not -- eat the trimmings -- they're a reward!
Cool & stack the trimmed pizzelle on a rack as you work...
Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; microplane grater; hand-held electric mixter; large rubber spatula; parchment paper; electric pizzelle iron preheated according to manufacturer's specifications; 1" ice-cream scoop; small spatula; cooling rack; kitchen shears
Cook's Note: My recipe for the traditional pizzelle, ~ Double-Lemon & Vanilla-Kissed Pizzelle Cookies ~ can be found in Categories 7 or 12. These cookies are made on my full-size pizzelle iron then trimmed and cut into pretty fan shapes while they are still hot.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)