Secret Recipes are Bullsh*t
As a chef, foodie and lover of culture, history and tradition, I am passionate in my belief that secret recipes are BS. There isn’t anything I can think of that anyone could tell me to change my mind on the topic.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience” – James Beard
I especially wonder why people keep family recipes a secret — food is meant to be shared and passed on from generation to generation. Your family’s recipes — and the traditions that go with them — tell a story, your story, your heritage, your culture. Why would you not want to share that with the world? Food is, in my opinion, the most relatable way to introduce people to other cultures and to ourselves. The more we experience other cultures and their traditions, the more we become accepting of others. If you really want to know someone, or want someone to know you, share a meal with them; one that means something to you or to them.
If a recipe is so good that you want to keep it a secret, then it must be good enough that you should be proud of it and want to share it, so others can experience all of the deliciousness. Food is meant to be shared; it is one of life’s great pleasures. I find it extremely sad when I hear people talk about old family recipes that are not made anymore, because they weren’t passed down. Such a deep connection to family roots is lost forever.
If you are a professional chef and you are afraid to share your recipes because you think someone else is going to get rich off of your ideas, in all likelihood, they’re not! If being a successful chef was as easy as having a recipe, we would all be Thomas Keller and, clearly, we are not. For that matter, if having a good recipe was all you needed to create a successful food product or restaurant, there would be a lot more people doing it.
Check Your Ego
This might hurt some of you to hear, but the main reason most people keep their recipes secret is ego — you don’t want someone else taking credit for your recipe. I get that, believe me. As a recipe developer and blogger, I really get that. However, I feel more strongly in the importance of sharing great food with the world and passing on traditions than I do in getting credit every time someone makes one of my recipes. That being said, don’t be a jerk. Whether it’s your Aunt Sheila’s recipe, my recipe or a recipe from a book, give credit where it’s due. And, if you change or modify a recipe, by all means take the credit you deserve, and then pass the recipe on!
This recipe for Pizzette cookies was given to me by my friend (and best insurance agent around) Sue Manero. It was passed down to her from her mother Nanie Lena Carrelli Manero, passed down from her mother Josephine (Giuseppina Spina Carrelli). Both Sue and her mother Lena gave me permission to share it with all of you. I have used this recipe for many years for Christmas time at my bakery and restaurant, Sweet, and at home. Over the years, I have made some slight modifications (like making it gluten free), and they are listed in the recipe so you can choose to make Lena’s original version or use the modifications. I hope this recipe brings you and your family as much pleasure as it has brought the Manero family, my family and my friends.
Gluten-Free Pizzette Cookies
This recipe was given to me by Sue Manero from her mother Nanie Lena Carrelli Manero passed down from her mother Josephine (Giuseppina Spina Carrelli).
Pizzettes are a classic Italian frosted chocolate cookie. The combination of rich chocolate, toasted almonds, citrus and warm spices create a unique flavor that always reminds me of Christmas.
- 84 grams unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped* (3 oz)
- 260 grams hot black coffee (or espresso)
- 520 grams 1:1 gluten-free flour blend
- 400 grams granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 128 grams chocolate chips
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- ½ orange (zest only)
- 143 grams whole almonds , toasted and chopped
- 112 grams oil (light olive, canola, or avocado)
- 1 large egg, slightly beaten
- 54 grams unsweetened chocolate, chopped**
- 225 grams warm milk
- 336 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 30 grams lemon juice
In a small bowl, mix the chopped baking chocolate with the hot coffee until it is all melted. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder with the chocolate chips, lemon zest, orange zest and chopped almonds. Stir well to combine.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add oil, egg and the chocolate coffee mixture. Keep mixing, slowly incorporating the wet and the dry ingredients to form a firm dough.
Place the mixture on a lightly floured board or silicone baking mat, and knead to bring it all together.
Wrap the dough in plastic, and rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line four baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Pat the dough out into an even rectangle that is approximately ½-inch thick. Cut into 1-inch strips, and then cut each strip diagonally into 1½-inch pieces. They will be an elongated diamond shape.
Place on cookie sheet, and bake eight to 10 minutes until firm around the edges, but still soft in the middle. Let cool.
Remove from the oven; let stand a few seconds. Place on a dishcloth, and cover.
Once cool, they are ready to frost.
In a small bowl, mix the chopped baking chocolate with the warm milk, microwaving 30 seconds at a time to completely melt the chocolate.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, lemon juice and chocolate mixture until a smooth frosting forms.
Dip the tops of the frosted cookies in the frosting, and place on a rack to dry.
*The original recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, but you can substitute bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips if that is what you have.
**I added orange zest, because I love the flavor -- the original recipe calls for only lemon.
I have made these with Cup4Cup, Bob's 1:1 or King Arthur Measure for Measure and Better Batter Original.