Classic Anise Pizzelles

Special thanks to Maria Fine, who both introduced me to pizzelles and made them for this shoot. 
The older I get the less enamored I am with things. Different shades of lip gloss and plates for special occasions and specialized kitchen gadgets all look the same to me; they are bits of clutter overtaking my house and therefore too, they are my hard earned money on the fast track from my bank account to the Goodwill. And at first glance, a pizzelle iron seems to fall under that condemnable category of barely useable kitchen gadgets, but I've given it a lot of thought since I fell in love with the pizzelle in Pittsburgh last Thanksgiving. The fact of the matter is that, like a fancy dress and nowhere to wear it, I just plain wanted one because they're pretty. A pizzelle iron takes a minute amount of rather mundane looking batter and transforms it into an intricately ornate, buttery morsel. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this kitchen tool may only make one thing, but the thing it makes is a palate for an endless number of flavorings and uses.
Before I ramble on about all the proverbial places I plan to wear my prom dress, let me tell you about the little black dress version of the pizzelle. It's nothing but butter, eggs, flour and sugar, accented elegantly with the distinct scent of anise. For those of you who don't care for that somewhat abrasive, licorice-y punch that is usually associated with anise, I urge you to give it one last try in a pizzelle that is made with natural oil or whole seeds. When combined with copious amount of butter, toasted and caramelized on a hot cast iron press, the flavor of anise is metamorphosed into something earthy, sweet and mild. If you still don't like it, that's okay because there's only about a million other flavors of pizzelle you can make.
So now let's talk about the possibilities, starting with flavor. You can use this basic recipe and add practically any extract you'd like, maybe even a few drops of some food grade essential oil. You could make vanilla bean pizzelles, dip them half in dark chocolate and dust them with pomegranate salt. You could add the zest of any citrus, crushed coriander seeds, honey, sesame or poppy seeds, chopped thyme. And that brings us to application: this pizzelle iron comes with a cone roller, meaning you could make beautiful little waffle cones to compliment any flavor of ice cream you can imagine. Or, using this technique, make pizzelle ice cream sandwiches. If you happen to have a cannoli form on hand, you could make pizzelle cannoli! Go crazy.
If you make a flavor of pizzelle based on this recipe, I'm dying to hear about it! Post a picture to Instagram or Twitter and tag me @HMMessinger. 

Maria Fine's Pizzelles
-makes 50-60 5" cookies
6 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 1/2 cups AP flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
flavoring: 1 Tablespoon anise oil OR 1 1/2 Tablespoons anise extract plus 1 Tablespoon anise seeds cooking spray

1. Preheat pizzelle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. Beat eggs and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add butter, a little bit at a time, followed by flavoring. If using anise seeds, crush lightly with a mortar and pestle.

3. Fluff flour and baking powder together with a fork and add to egg mixture in three additions. Stir only until just combined.

4. Spray pizzelle iron before each cookie and ladle in the recommended amount of batter (once you get a feel for the right amount I recommend you order an ice cream scoop that size to make your work easier). The first few usually stick, so have a popsicle stick or scraper of some kind handy to get the cookies out before they burn. Cool on a wire rack.


  1. these photos are breathtaking, hannah! i feel like i can smell them through the computer...

  2. Can we please make these for the Kinfolk workshop?!!?!? Expletive, expletive, ohmahgah, expletive. These are so pretty. Can we put pulverized fennel seed powder in them? Can we make fennel pizzelles? PLEASE.

  3. Our family recipe is different enough that I may have to make a small batch of these for a taste test! {Less sugar, vegetable oil instead of butter and a dash of lemon juice} I just made two batches and shipped them to my son in Norway as they are his favorite cookie. Thank you for the lovely post!

    1. Linda, Did the cookies reach your son intach or in crumbs? How did you pack them? I've like to send some abroad but am afraid they would crumble. They'd still be good sprinkled over ice cream.

  4. Such an italian classic! My Grama and all her friends make these all the time. Their irons have their initials in them too, which is pretty neat. You've inspired me to pick up one of these irons for myself!

    1. We have made these for years. But now, I must know where they found irons with their initials on them. Any idea?

  5. These are too gorgeous for words. I just recently learned about these Italian cookies -- I've only ever used anise in braising meat, Chinese style, and more recently in poaching pears, but never in cookies. It sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. Best recipe yet I decided vanilla as no one else would eat anise