Pizzelle: The Best Italian Wedding Cookies

When it comes to weddings, cakes are clearly the dessert of choice, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have other sweets too. Such occasions can be personalized in order to cater to the desires of the bride and groom. I once went to a wedding in the hills outside of Rome that had – instead of a cake – a giant fruit pizza. Maybe this seems out of the ordinary and frankly a little too “Italian” for non-Italians, however each bride and groom is entitled to have the desserts of their liking. Cookies, for example, can make the offering of wedding sweets unique and very personalized. They are easy to serve and delicate, and can be served as part of a dessert buffet.

Italian pizzelle wedding cookiesPizzelle cookies are a popular wedding treat in Abruzzo. Photo by Kara Brugman via Flickr.

In the southern region of Abruzzo it is traditional to make pizzelle for weddings. There are actually many different names for this thin waffle cookie cooked in a hot iron press: ferratelle, cancelle, nuvole, nevole, neole. Whatever the name, they are generally flavored with lemon zest or sometimes anice. According to tradition when making these cookies with the iron press over an open flame, the chef recited the “Our Father” as one side of the cookie was heated. Then the press would be flipped and he or she would recite the “Hail Mary” in order to finish the process.

The exact origins of this cookie are unknown, however pizzelle began being made in the 18th century. At the time, the iron used to cook them was embossed with the family coat of arms or the bride and groom’s initials. This might be a great way to personalize your own wedding cookies, while carrying on an Italian tradition. These cookies traditionally were given to guests who came before the wedding to view the bride’s dowry, often wooden chests full of linens. The wedding to come was said to be judged on the quality of these cookies.

For a more modern interpretation of this Abruzzese tradition, pizzelle can be served at a wedding shower or any other pre-wedding occasion or at the dessert buffet. In fact, today in Abruzzo these cookies are made for all types of occasions and holidays.

Flavoured Italian pizzelle cookiesModern variations of pizzelle, flavored with chocolate, vanilla and espresso. Photo by Distopiandreamgirl via Flickr.

Today the cookies can be made with the older version of the iron, otherwise, modern electronic irons can facilitate pizzelle cooking-making. Cuisinart makes a great one called the Pizzelle Press – which I have used before – and the cookies come out great! So when deciding on the desserts for your wedding, choose carefully because when it comes right down to it, it might be the cookies at your wedding that take the cake.


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