7 Best Pizzelle Makers | March 2017
- cooks in sixty seconds
- convenient upright storage
- easy to wipe down and clean
- recipe ideas come included
- very well reviewed by owners
- overflow channel for extra batter
- cone roller included
- made in the united states
- cast aluminum plates
- light indicates when device is ready
- intricate lacy designs
- xylan nonstick grid surface
A Wide, Flat Italian Tradition
Growing up in an Italian-American household in New Jersey came with certain traditional experiences. We ate Sunday dinner at three in the afternoon, and it was always more or less the same meal: spaghetti, meatballs, sausage, and gravy (which is what we called tomato sauce). The alluring aroma of frying garlic and fresh Italian bread lay in a cloud over the entire town.
Some traditions came along less frequently, a lot of them saving up their energy toward the Christmas season. Among the great Christmas traditions in my household was the taking out and dusting off of the pizzelle maker. It was a simple device with a nonstick coating and space to cook two pizzelles at a time, and it was the only tool my mother allowed me to operate in the kitchen until I was old enough to be trusted around the oven or the knives.
If you're familiar with the concept of a waffle iron, the pizzelle maker will make immediate sense to you. When you open one up, you see two to four decorative, patterned circles on one side and two to four decorative circles on the other directly corresponding to them. By simply placing a small amount of pizzelle batter at the center of each circle and closing the sides together for about 30 seconds, you very quickly and very effectively cook beautiful, delicious pizzelle.
With such a simple mechanism, the battles from here come down to the batter. I won't go and divulge my Nana's secret recipe here, but suffice it to say that you cannot underestimate the importance of the lemon, but you can very easily overdo it with the vanilla.
Friendly Competition Between Grandmothers
In keeping with the theme of the Italian-American household, we should speak for a moment about competition. Matriarchal figures in such households often hold each other to unbelievable competitive standards of housekeeping, most of which revolve around activity in the kitchen.
If my Nana told her cousin Kay that she was making a wine roast, Kay would counter that she'd just made one for her grandchildren the week prior. If Kay expressed a desire to thaw out some frozen gravy, Nana would magically be right in the middle of a fresh batch. Come Christmas time, the cookie game got serious, and pizzelles were like the queens on a chess board of cookie pawns.
Take the size of a pizzelle, for example. You'll notice that the makers on our list provide you with pizzelles that range from just under three inches all the way up to five inches in diameter, depending on which one you get. There isn't any clear traditional doctrine about pizzelle size, but you'll find no shortage of opinions among cooks as to which is best for certain applications.
Standard pizzelle served up as cookies tend to be larger, since there isn't a heck of a lot of complexity to them. By contrast, the smaller pizzelle often go under-cooked to increase their pliability for molding and stuffing. Make sure you invest in a pizzelle maker that suits your intention for the confection, or you might just have to get yourself more than one.
The other consideration here is one of time and quantity. The pizzelle maker my family used throughout my childhood could make two pizzelle at a time, so a season's worth might take a whole day to prepare. Theoretically, a maker that fits four pizzelle would make just as many of the cookies in half the time. But beware, the odds of finding a maker that pops out four pizzelle at a time in a size above three inches are rare.
Neighbors In The Italian Mountains
Tracing the origins of the pizzelle back to the old country, to Italy in the 8th century, you'll find a bitter dispute between two small towns, each of which claims to have made the first pizzelle in history.
In the region of Italy called Abruzzo, East-northeast of Rome, you'll find high mountain ranges to the interior and a sprawling, beachy, Mediterranean climate toward the coast. The cultural dynamics throughout the region are wide-reaching, but between the towns of Salle and Cocullo, the divide over each municipality's claim to pizzelle fame is ferocious.
The towns, despite only being some 15 miles apart, couldn't be more different. Salle sits nestled in a valley between mountain ranges, the weather breaking just above it into dense fogs and healthy rains, making it look more like a piece of Scotland than of Italy. Further up and into the mountains you find Cocullo, a town built up like the mountains themselves, steeped in snow and strange histories.
Both places swear to have invented the pizzelle, which, before the advent of the electrical irons on our list, were made by heating a similarly shaped iron directly over a fire. For my money, I'm going to go with Salle's claim to have been first, if only because my Nana featured so heavily both on this list and in my early pizzelle education. My Nana also hated snakes, and Cocullo is famous for its population of the deceitful, slithering creatures.