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 bullshit. There isn’t anything I can think if 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.
I found this poem about recipes online, it’s from an old cook book (wish I knew which one). It speaks for itself.
I didn’t have potatoes so I substituted rice,
I didn’t have paprika, so I used another spice,
I didn’t have tomato sauce so I used tomato paste,
A whole can, not a half can, I don’t believe in waste.
A friend gave me the recipe, she said you couldn’t beat it,
There must be something wrong with her –
I couldn’t even eat 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 an asshole, 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 Sweet and at home. Over the years I have made some slight modifications 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.
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.
- 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate – chopped*
- 1 cup hot black coffee or espresso
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 Lemon zested and juiced
- ½ orange zest only
- ¾ cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup whole almonds toasted and chopped
- ½ cup oil light olive, canola, or avocado
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate - chopped*
- 1 cup warm milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 4 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
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 all of the dry ingredients 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 Silpat), knead to bring it all together.
Pat the dough out into an even rectangle that is approximately ½ inch thick. Cut into 1” strips and then cut each strip diagonally into 1 ½ inch pieces.
Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 until firm around the edges but still soft in the middle, 8–10 minutes. 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 until it is all melted, microwave 30 seconds at a time if needed 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
- The original recipe calls for unseated Baker's 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.
- If you are making these gluten free use the same amount of Cup4Cup, Bob's 1:1 or King Arthur Measure for Measure and add an additional 1/4 cup of coffee.