What Makes Pizzelle Irons Unique In The World Of Waffle Makers

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Making pizzelle (not to be confused with krumkakes) is an old Italian Christmas tradition. Today, the wafer cookies have cemented themselves as a celebrated holiday food on tables around the world. The vanilla (or sometimes almond) flavored cookie is specific to the Abruzzo region of Italy, and is one of the oldest known cookies in history. There's a reason why it's stuck around. Pizzelle are crisp yet tender and chewy and are impressed with intricate designs. Although, unlike many beloved baked goods, pizzelle cannot be shaped by hand for a perfectly imperfect wabi-sabi style presentation. 

Instead, making pizzelle requires a specialized appliance: a pizzelle iron. In this type of iron, the dough is pressed between two hot plates, which simultaneously bake, stamp, and flatten the cookie into the desired shape and thickness. Pizzelle irons are similar to classic waffle maker appliances. But, instead of square molds, they are outfitted with ornate snowflake or floral designs, impressing an aesthetic stamp into the thin, crispy cookies. 

Unlike waffles, the stamp in pizzelle is more decorative than functional. And, unlike waffle cone makers, pizzelle irons are outfitted with thicker plates, meaning the appliance is versatile enough to make a variety of different treats. What's more, you can use pizzelle to make cannoli or homemade waffle cones for ice cream. You could even use two of 'em to make an ice cream sandwich. Pizzelle irons can make savory foods, too, like thin pizza crusts for shaping novelty pizza cones.

Multiple molds and customizable size options

If you only plan to make pizzelle for yourself, then a single mold might be fine. But, if you're making large quantities of cookies for a crowd, opting for an appliance with two or even four molds might be a better move. The nonstick 5-inch model by CucinaPro costs $59.99 on Amazon and is outfitted with two molds for baking pizzelle twice as fast — perfect for folks who plan to regularly rock the bake sale. Still, it's worth it to shop around. 

Another similar dual-plated model by FineMade costs $20 less on Amazon and accomplishes pretty much the same goal, but it isn't made of such industrial quality. When determining which appliance is right for you, take into account how often you're going to be making large batches of cookies. Pizzelle irons come in different sizes, too. They commonly range between 4 to 5 inches in diameter, but larger or smaller models are out there, as well. Size can be a key factor if you plan to use your pizzelle iron to make foods other than pizzelle. 

If you're going to be rolling your thin wafer dough into cannoli or waffle cones, for example, they'll need to be wide enough that they can be manipulated without cracking. If space is a concern, Dash — the industry giant of mini kitchen appliances — makes a mini pizzelle iron that's just $10 on the Williams Sonoma website. This sturdy little tool produces 4-inch wide cookies pressed with a variety of patterns and weighs just 1 pound — a good fit for apartment-dwelling foodies who might be low on cabinet room.

Take advantage of modernity

Proto-pizzelle irons were fitted with a long handle, as they needed to be rotated and held over a fire. Luckily for modern home cooks, today's pizzelle-makers have their own electric heating elements and (often) non-stick griddles for easy cleanup. On the topic of modernity, also opt for an appliance with an indicator light, which will tell you when the pizzelle is done baking. Unless you have the process down to an exact science, it can be tricky to gauge how done your wafer is when it's still out of sight in the iron. 

Unlike many other waffle makers, pizzelle irons are coated with a layer of non-stick material. The appliances are often made with a stainless steel body and baking plates, which quickly conduct and evenly distribute heat. Older models are sometimes made from iron, which also totally gets the job done, but tends to rust over time and doesn't always have a nonstick layer built in.