Ahhh, the perfect Saturday. Cold and sunny outside, smelling like a bakery inside. Today was pizzelle day. For those of you unfamiliar, they are a flat Italian cookie made in a press. Mine is electric, I have had it for about 10 years, and I think today was its last hurrah. My delicious pizzelles are obviously browned more on one side than the other, an apparent electrical problem. Oh well, it has had a long life, and has been without a leg for years. So next Christmas I won't have to balance a hot electrical appliance on a cork.
The recipe I have used in the past few years is from Nick Malgieri's book Cookies Unlimited. There are a million variations on the web, and it really is personal. My family has always gone with the crispy anise flavored pizzelles. There are thicker soft versions, pizzelles with anise seed, fennel seed, almond and chocolate. The chocolate isn't bad, but I love the anise. I choose to use anise oil instead of extract. It takes a small amount, less than ¼ teaspoon for a double batch. With the extract you could easily use a teaspoon or more. The key is to know when enough is enough, because too much anise oil and the whole batch is ruined, I know, I've done it. So what better way to kill time while making pizzelles than to watch the old standard White Christmas. My favorite holiday movie. So much to love! First of all, the Sisters song. My sister Lori and I can butcher that song beautifully after just one glass of wine.
Then there is Vera-Ellen, and I don't care what all the haters say, I would enjoy a 17" waist for a day or 2. She is an amazing dancer and perfect with Danny Kaye.
How about the clothes? Edith Head was so talented. I love the color, the silhouettes the movement of the fabrics when they dance. If those dopes on the design shows recreated the gorgeous black velvet gown Rosemary Clooney wore in her song, Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me, they'd be lauded for their simplicity and vision, and yea, plagiarism, but it is fabulous.
Which brings me to the song The Best Things Happen When You Dance. I love that, the words are perfect. When I was in high school, slow dancing was better than making out. Kids today have no idea...and the dance Vera and Danny do with it is swooning! Brendan Fraser brings that song to the masses in the movie Blast From the Past (very funny) and he dances pretty good too.
Of course anyone who knows me knows I love anything military, so the theme of the General and his boys is a nice story to boot, and those uniforms, the patriotism and the camaraderie of the troop, makes for a timeless theme.
If I had any singing talent at all, I would find some folks to harmonize the Snow song with. And the cocktails and class in the railroad car, it so makes me want to take a train. Geez, I was born way too late.
And then the famous finale. The kids in their pointe shoes (red ballet shoes...you go Edith), dancing around that huge tree covered in tinsel. We used to tinsel our tree when I was a kid, I loved the way it sparkled. And the cast dressed in Santa inspired gowns and suits with the fur and the glitter, the snow falling behind them and the best selling song of all time. What a great movie....
I finished the pizzelles before the movie was through, so I engaged in a little cork craft. I admit, it is a little weird, but still cute at the same time. My sister (the one I sing with) has sort of gone "over the edge" with these and covered her entire flock of reindeer (and anything else that will take a little glue) with Martha's fabulous glitter. Apparently she bought the variety pack and things are sparkling in living color all over Santa Monica.
For me, back to the ovens. Much more to prepare. Go on, get in there and bake!
Nick Malgieri's Pizzelles
1¾ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk (save the white for meringues!)
¾ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons anisette (what is that? I use a trace of anise oil)
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
Mix dry together and set aside. Beat eggs, sugar anise and butter. Add dry ingredients. Bake on pizzelle iron. YUM!
Says it makes 24, but you'll eat a few in the process...