Pizzella – Native to Abruzzo, is a waffle-like cookie that varies between crisp and crunchy or soft and chewy depending on ingredients. This recipe makes the crisp, light version. The name comes from the Italian word “pizze” for round and flat. Traditional flavorings include anise, vanilla, and lemon zest. A pizzelle iron is used in cooking the dolce or biscotti, giving it a characteristic snowflake pattern. In some parts of Italy, the irons would be made with family crests on them which would be passed down to each generation. I use an electric pizzella maker which makes two at a time.
Pizzella are commonly used to create a dessert sandwich or roll with cannoli cream or hazelnut spread as a filling. This recipe is for the cookies, eaten alone or used as a cannoli shell. This, by far, is the easiest version of cannoli I have ever made.
No frying necessary!
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla or for different flavors: anise, orange or lemon oil. Extracts are OK, but not preferred
1 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (King Arthur is preferred)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon or orange rind (optional)
Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla (or flavored oil) until well combined. Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth. Add the melted butter and orange or lemon peel if using, again mixing until smooth; the batter will be thick and soft.
Heat your pizzella iron. As it heats, the batter will stiffen and puff slightly.
Cook the pizzella according to the instructions that came with your iron. In general, they’ll take between 45 seconds and 2 1/2 minutes to brown.
Remove the pizzella from the iron, and cool on a rack. If desired, use a pair of scissors to trim any ragged edges. Roll, while still hot, around wooden dowels or the end of a wooden spoon. They will form a shell quickly as they cool.
Dust cooled pizzella with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Makes 3 dozen.
4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup ground almonds (optional, but recommended)
1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
*1 cup heavy whipping cream, optional
Whip ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and ground almonds (if using) until well-blended and creamy.
Stir chocolate chips into the ricotta mixture, being careful not to over mix.
For a lighter filling, you may whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to form stiff peaks, and fold into filling mixture at this step.
Chill filling for about 30 minutes before piping into cooled cannoli shells.
If filling is too thin, add 1 tablespoon cornstarch and refrigerate another 15 minutes. This can be repeated up to three times, using a maximum of 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.
Garnish cannoli by sprinkling powdered sugar on top, if desired.
Whipped cream, a cherry, and shaved chocolate can also be used to garnish the top.
*You may also half the ingredients for the filling if fewer pizzella are made*
Keep refrigerated until time of serving.