In addition to my cookbook habit, I seem to have developed a kitchen gadget habit. You name it and I’m sure it’s sitting in a corner of my kitchen somewhere. But I justify my habit with the knowledge that I definitely put my gadgets to good use. Whether it’s the panini press or the waffle maker, I like my electronics.
My interest in gadgets notwithstanding, I am a strong supporter of preparing traditional foods with traditional tools. One of the traditional items that I have always wanted, is a pizzelle iron. Pizzelle are round, sweet wafers that are made from a batter that is cooked in an iron, similar to a waffle maker. The batter for pizzelle is usually made of eggs, sugar, butter and flour. Traditionally, Italians flavour pizzelle batter with anise, however, I have tasted many variations that include vanilla, lemon zest and even chocolate.
Prior to the introduction of electric pizzelle makers, people used pizzelle irons to make these cookies. A pizzelle iron was a type of double pan or skillet, usually made of cast iron, used over an open flame. For some reason, this cooking instrument has always intrigued me. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate one. I’ve visited almost all of the old Italian neighbourhoods in Toronto and scoured the tiny shops that specialized in this type of equipment, but to no avail.
I quickly realized that if I ever wanted to get down to making pizzelle, I would have to buy a modern pizzelle iron. There are a number of companies that produce these irons, recognizing the popularity of pizzelle. They include Cuisinart and VillaWare. Most irons are stamped with a snowflake or floral motif. However, traditional pizzelle makers often had very intricate designs and some families even had irons with their own family crests stamped on them.
The pizzelle maker that I settled on is the Cuisinart model. Affordable and easy-to-use, the iron has a non-stick surface which performed excellently during my first pizzelle trial. While I did not use cooking spray on the iron surface (many of the cookbooks I consulted recommended using cooking spray, which I am adamantly opposed to), I did brush the surface with the tiniest bit of vegetable oil just to be extra sure that my pizzelle did not stick to the iron. I was not disappointed!
Now, for a recipe. The first time I used the pizzelle iron I followed the recipe that came with the unit. It was a typical pizzelle recipe calling for eggs and sugar to beaten together. That was followed by the addition of melted butter and then flour. I flavoured the pizzelle with vanilla (my personal favourite). Once the batter was ready, I began making the pizzelle and I found the process very simple. While it did take a few tries to get the exact amount of batter for each pizzella right, after a few I got the hang of it.
But for this particular post, I wanted to make something special. I remembered that in my copy of The Good Cookie (the Flavour of the Month for January 2006), I had seen a recipe for Stroopwafels. What are Stroopwafels you ask? Well Stroopwafels are a cookie of Dutch origin that are made of two waffle-like disks that are sandwiched together with a filling, usually caramel. As Tish Boyle explains in The Good Cookie, Stroopwafels were often served on top of a hot cup of coffee so that the heat of the coffee would warm the caramel filling. Don’t you just love the Dutch!
Tish’s recipe for Stroopwafels calls for making pizzelle for the cookie part. Her recipe is unique in that it uses cinnamon as flavouring for the pizzelle. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try. The pizzelle batter, other than the cinnamon, was very similar to the recipe that came with my pizzelle iron. It produced a thick batter that was easy to scoop onto the iron, but not too thick that the pizzelle came out cake-like. They were nicely crisp, without being brittle.
Once the pizzelle were done, I went on to the caramel filling. Unfortunately, caramel is something that I need to work on. I have a tendency to look away while the caramel is cooking and this has resulted in several experiences of dealing with burnt caramel. It’s not fun … believe me!
While I didn’t burn the caramel, it darkened a bit too much for my tastes. I prefer my caramel on the lighter side. While it tasted good, I wish I would have removed it from the heat just a few seconds sooner. Often those few seconds can make all the difference when making caramel. Nevertheless, I let the caramel filling cool and began making my Stroopwafels. The recipe indicated that the filling should be spooned onto one pizzella and then topped with another pizzella. But what’s the fun of making caramel if you can’t drizzle it on and watch it fall in luxurious blobs??? That’s what I did. I made a complete and total mess, but oh what fun!
Once complete, I brewed my favourite coffee, poured myself some using my very favourite coffee cup and placed a Stroopwafel on top. And then I sat back and watched the heat of the coffee and the caramel work their magic.
Adapted from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle.
For the pizzelle:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (The original recipe calls for 1-3/4 cups of flour but I increased the amount of flour because I used extra large eggs instead of large eggs.)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon but I actually ran out. In future I don’t think I’ll use cinnamon again. While I love cinnamon, I prefer pizzelle with a strong vanilla flavour.)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 extra large eggs (The original recipe calls for 3 large eggs, however, I only had extra large eggs. If you use large eggs, reduce the amount of flour by a 1/4 cup.)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted, unsalted butter that has been cooled
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are light and a pale yellow colour.
- Add the cooled, melted butter and the vanilla extract and mix for 1 minute.
- Add the flour. Mix on low-speed until just combined. Don’t over mix the batter.
- Heat the pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Brush the iron surface with some vegetable oil. Even If your iron is non-stick, follow this step to ensure that your pizzelle don’t stick to the iron.)
- Spoon a rounded tablespoonful of batter into the centre of each pizzella mold. Close the lid and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. (With my pizzelle iron, the first few batches of pizzelle took 45 seconds to 1 minute to cook. Once the iron got going, my pizzelle were done in about 30 seconds.)
- Transfer the pizzelle to a wire rack to cool before making the Stroopwafels.
For the caramel filling:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick), unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
- In a heavy saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Make sure you stir constantly!!! This should take several minutes.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and raise the heat to high. You may want to have a brush and cup of water handy to brush down the sides of the pan. This helps to prevent crystallization along the sides of the saucepan.
- After a few minutes, you’ll begin to notice that the sugar mixture is slowly changing colour. It will start to turn a pale golden colour and then very soon, it will darken. Once the caramel turns a deep amber colour, remove the caramel from the heat and very carefully add the butter and cream. (If like me, you don’t like your caramel very dark, then remove the caramel from the heat before it’s a deep amber.) Stir until smooth.
- Let the caramel sit for 10 minutes or so to cool down.
- Once you’re ready to assemble the Stroopwafels, take one pizzella and scoop about 2 to 3 teaspoons of caramel filling onto the centre. Take another pizzella and place on top. Continue until you have used all the pizzelle. (You may have caramel filling left over which you can use to drizzle over ice cream … yum!)
Note: You may have noticed that I sometimes refer to "pizzella" and "pizzelle" in my post. "Pizzella" is the singular form of the workd "pizzelle". Click here for more information on pizzelle. You can use any filling you like when making "pizzelle" sandwiches. I also like to use lemon curd and of course, Nutella!
Dreska of Little Fancies asked me a great question after I put this post up. What’s the difference between a Stroopwafel and a Pizzella? As Jenny of de Arte Coquinaria pointed out, the texture of a Stroopwafel is very different from that of a Pizzella. Based on what I read, Stroopwafels seem to be thicker than Pizzelle. They are more like waffles, whereas Pizzelle are more like a crispy wafer. Some Stroopwafel recipes also include yeast, which you would never add to a Pizzelle batter. You can read about the history of Stroopwafels and see a sample recipe here.