Friday is Immigration Day at my daughter's elementary school. Over the course of the last month or so, the fifth graders have been researching and studying the great waves of immigration in this country. On the culminating day, each student takes on the persona of an immigrant from the country they have chosen, they pack their bags and dress as a traveler, and will go through a simulation of the process by which immigrants entered this country through Ellis Island. My youngest daughter is really into it. My kids love history, and this particular project had special significance for her because she chose a real life immigrant upon which to model herself; her great-grandmother, my grandmother, who emigrated to the United States, coming from Italy through Ellis Island in 1932. Her name was Vincenzella Lamarra Tosti, and she was such a vibrant and dynamic part of all of our lives. She lived the American Dream, coming to this country with nothing, building a beautiful life with her husband and her family.
My grandmother died at age 98, just six months ago, and Anna has felt the loss of her Nonna quite deeply. She is really looking forward to this day. I, of course, wouldn't miss it for the world. Parents have been asked to send cookies from the country of origin of the simulated immigrants, and I will be making pizzelle, using my grandmother's pizzelle iron. When we were kids, we had them at every family gathering. Pizzelle were the ubiquitous cookie, and we didn’t really give them a second thought. As an adult, I crave them; their sweet crunch, the smell of vanilla they leave behind. They have always been Anna's favorite; Nonna used to make them quite often, and cover them with confectioner's sugar. She never once got upset when the kids would walk around the house eating them, sprinkling the powdered sugar everywhere they went. These pizzelle are the best snack ever. They are crispy and sweet, and they melt in your mouth as soon as you bite into them. The recipe doubles well, and they will last for several days, stored in an airtight container, as long as the humidity is not too high. You can really use any extract you like; anise is traditional, but my girls like almond or vanilla best. They used to be made using a cast iron mold, but these days it is so easy to plug in the pizzelle iron, which is not expensive. The smell of the cookies baking in the kitchen brings me back to my childhood in an instant.
3 eggs, beaten
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
¾ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp vanilla
Beat the eggs and sugar together well. Add the butter and continue to mix. Add the dry ingredients and the extracts, and mix well. Batter will be stiff, but come off the spoon easily. Preheat the pizzelle iron according to instructions, then place about 1 tbsp. of the batter (depending on the size of the pizzelle maker) in the center of the iron. Close the lid and cook for about 45 seconds. Remove carefully, and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. When they are completely cool, cover with confectioners sugar, stack and seal in an airtight container. They will last as long as you can resist them, which will not be long. Makes about 2 dozen.