Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pizzelles, Florentines, and Gingerbread Boys

I wanted to start this posting about an hour ago. Now I'm extremely tired and will give you the short version. Maybe I can convince Ben to elaborate on my post later. But, I do have a lot of pics...and you know that pics are worth a lot more than my words. Maybe.

We had a really good weekend, which is nice after experiencing a bad week at work. Saturday night we had dinner with our friends Brian and Tiana, then we all hopped in the car to make a Starbucks run so we could drink coffee while driving around looking at Christmas lights. The houses around here are so beautiful! I should've taken some pictures, but regretfully did not. You must use your imagination, however, I do not have the energy to even give you any details to help that imagination of yours. Then we came back to our home and watched Sum of All Fears...back in Ben Affleck's good ol' days.

Sunday was church, then the rest of the day was spent baking, baking, baking! We made pizzelles...an Italian holiday cookie that is becoming a family tradition. For those who do not know what a pizzelle is, it is a very thin, round, delicate cookie with various designs. The Italian version is anise flavored, however, I'm not fond of that licorice taste...so I made three other flavors instead. Vanilla, Orange, and of course... Chocolate! yum yum!

Here's the background: My grandmother has a pizzelle maker from the late 70s or early 80s made by Vitantonio. It's a vintage now since Vitantonio no longer exists (Villaware is the new name). She is letting my mom borrow it right now. So when I was home for Thanksgiving, my mom and I made some pizzelles and I fell in love with the pizzelle maker machine thingy. Right when I got back to Wheaton, I decided to try to find that pizzelle maker and buy one for myself. Little did I know that this Vitantonio brand is no longer around. I also found out from my research that this brand was the best pizzelle maker made! They were selling on Ebay for no less than $100, so I decided to research other brands...like Villaware (which is really Vitantonio...but not as good) and were half the price. I didn't find ones that I liked as much as the Vitantonio. Then a bright light went off in my head! There is a website called Craigslist.org that is a free online classifieds and pretty popular. So, with little expectations, I posted a "want" ad for the Vitantonio pizzelle maker model #300. A few days later I received an email from a guy in Naperville (nearby town) who had one and would sell it to me for $40! yay! So Ben and I met him at a strip mall that week to do our exchange.

Anyway, all that leads up to the day we spent baking cookies. We also made Florentine Cookies which I made of honey and pecans, with a layer of semi-sweet chocolate on one side. I was inspired to try making these cookies after my trip to the Gas Light Village in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. My family and I stopped at a bakery where I tried my first Florentine cookie. Ooooh boy was it fantastic! So, again, I used the most useful resource (the Internet) and found a convincingly good recipe. This recipe has proven itself indeed.

And, lastly, we made Gingerbread Boys. This has been and always will be a tradition for the Gladds. Ben's favorite baking memory (and probably only one) is making Gingerbread Boys every Christmas. Of course, he had to mention that when he was just a young tad, he and his two brothers would sneakily use the frosting to make the Gingerbread Boys anatomically correct. haha! Boys will be boys I guess!

And to top off our Christmas themed weekend...we bought our stockings for this year. Actually, I like these so much that I believe we'll keep them until our family grows. They're more decorative than Christmasy, but Ben even really likes them, too....so they are keepers. They also have this Italian feel to them... Check out the pic and see for yourself. :)

This posting became a bit longer than I proposed it would be in the beginning. Goes to prove that blogs (or "blobs" as my mom would say) are quite addictive.

May your Christmas be full of yummy cookies, beautiful stockings, and anatomically correct gingerbread boys.


Kara Graves said...

mmmm....your post makes me want to bake more cookies....but Josh would hurt me if we had more! (maybe we can meet in a nearby strip mall and do an exchange of cookies?)

Sue said...

Wow Nikki (and Ben :) you did a great job on the pizzelles. I'm sure grandma will be very proud of you. If possible, try to take some to Maryland with you to share with the Gladd clan. I love gingerbread guys too, you will have to teach me how to make those. The stockings are real adorable. I have never seen anything like them. We still have the boring red velvet ones. Rachelle said she would like to find a new colorful one. Something a little more exciting. I don't think Michigan has it....
Love you's

Wramma said...

I am so happy that you were able to get a Pizzelle maker like mine. I used that one for many years.. Do you remember eating those when you were a little girl? I Love the anise flavoring, and also Almond. The Italians in our family used those two flavors alot.
I heard you got a recipe too.. Also I dust them lightly with powdered sugar. Not all, but most.
I want to see your recipe, if you don't mind.. love you xxxxoooo

Elaney said...

I want to make Pizzelle's too now! i'm going to have to go on Craigslist and find myself my own Pizelle maker for Christmas! Then if I find one, you'll have to share the recipe :)

Queen Beez said...

shoot! I should have added the pizzelle maker to my gift list. Now I'm the only one without one. :(

Brian said...

I want my cookies fool. I also want an Xbox 360 with a plasma screen too, but that aint happenin'. let's make one of them work out huh?

Lucy said...

Hey Ben and Nikki--so glad that you have a blog now! Now, when I get bored at work, I can mosey over here and see what's going on in your life! Can't wait to hear more from ya'll!
PS--the cookies look incredible!
-Lucy P.

vicki said...

yummmmmmm, cookies...i'd especially like to eat some of those gingerbread boys...until i realize that maybe i just ate something ben slapped on him with the frosting... :(

kit said...

i had a vivantonio machine for years and years. It finally broke and i bought the villaware and dont like it. They come too thick. I use vanilla, orange , orange zest, anise. Wish I could find another vivantonio machine.

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