In Croatia, we measure our good behaviour with a generous helping of Neapolitan wafer. Which means, baka or mama always keep a secret stash of napolitanke biscuits.
Napolitanke... mmm... thin wafer sheets stuck together with gooey, silky chocolate filling. This is the stuff our childhood highs were made of.
At special occasions, store-bought napolitanke would give way to the sumptuous homemade oblatne. In reality, this Croatian wafer cake is mama’s artisanal take on the Neapolitan wafer.
The oldest oblatne recipe is with caramelized milk and chocolate. In the past, we would cook milk and sugar for 2-3 hours to get what is globally known as dulce de leche.
Today, we can use a little shortcut. We can bake sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. Add butter and dark chocolate and voila... we get the classic Croatian oblatne recipe.
It’s easy, but do read the notes to avoid some common challenges with milk and chocolate.
Croatian wafer cake is a silky, sticky, sumptuous chocolate fantasy.
1 hr 30 min
oblatne size 37 x 27 cm
5 sheets tort wafers (200 g package)
540 g (1 3/4 cup) sweetened condensed
Yields 430 g (1 1/3 cup) dulce de leche
230 g (8 oz) dark chocolate
250 g (2 1/4 stick or 1 1/8 cup) butter at room temperature
- 1Pour condensed milk into a heat-proof dish and place into a larger roasting tin. Add enough water to reach half way to the top of the dish. Cover with tin foil and bake at 220 C (425 F) for 1 h 15 min.
- 2Leave to cool to room temperature. Whisk in room temp butter, slowly, by hand.
- 3Melt chocolate in a double boiler and leave to cool back to room temperature. Add to the filling.
- 4Divide the filling into 4 equal parts. Be precise, use the scale. Place cling film on a flat moveable surface, such as a board. Put one oblatne wafer sheet on the bottom.
- 5Spread the filling on the rougher side so that it fills every hole. Put another sheet on, spread the filling and repeat until you use everything up. Finish with the 5th wafer sheet.
- 6Cover with cling film again. Stack a chopping board or something flat on top, weigh it down with books. Leave to set overnight.
- 7Cut into rectangles or diamonds with a sharp knife. Keep wrapped in tin foil or in a sealed contained in the fridge for up to a week.
Follow these steps to prevent dulce de leche from lumping and chocolate from seizing.
1. Always have the dish with condensed milk submerged in water half-way through. Add more water if it evaporates.
2. If you get lumps, run dulce de leche through the sieve. If this doesn’t help, let is cool and blitz it with immersion blender.
3. If chocolate seizes, wait for it to cool and then vigorously stir; this should make it silky again.
What is oblatne wafer with chocolate filling?
Really - it’s a homemade Neapolitan wafer. Probably not what you had in mind if you searched for a standard chocolate wafer cookies.
Oblatne wafer sheets are plain wafers for baking, also known as tort wafers. They mimic the thin wafer sheets you can find in Neapolitan wafer biscuits. And just like the store-bought biscuits, oblatne also produce rectangular wafer cookies.
There’s one thing to keep in mind though. Most Neapolitan wafer producers praise their biscuits for the crispiness of the wafer. When you make oblatne at home, be ready for a different texture.
Once you fill oblatne wafer sheets with thick chocolate filling, they will never be crispy and crunchy. In fact, they get quite gummy, but this is exactly what makes them so special. And different from napolitanke cookies.
If chocolate oblatne were the same as napolitanke, we wouldn’t be still making them at home. Or fighting for that last piece that baka hid in her secret place.
Napolitanke and oblatne: origins and connections
Even if you’ve never had Croatian oblatne wafer cookies, you probably know of Neapolitan wafers.
The world’s oldest brand is the Austrian Manner. Their recipe dates back to 1989 and has remained the same since. Croatian oblatne take after Manner wafers in terms of their size and shape.
Just like Manner wafers, we make oblatne with 5 sheets, which are sandwiched with 4 layers of filling. Oblatne are also cut into rectangular biscuits. Although a diamond shape is also popular.
The second big brand is Loacker from Italy. Their main motto was to source all ingredients locally, including the hazelnuts. Those came from the Naples so this is why they are called Napolitaner.
Finally, Croatian Kraš boasts several delicious recipes. As kids, we would get a 1 kg economy bag of chocolate or nougat variety.
Their top of the range, double chocolate napolitanke were a special treat. Or something you’d take as a gift when visiting friends. These also make a fantastic Croatian souvenir!
So... Have you behaved? Have you been exceptionally good?
Then you deserve napolitanke. Or oblatne.
If you’re wondering where to buy tort wafer sheets, try an East-European deli. Polish, Ukrainian or Russian wafer cake is similar to our oblatne cookies. Of course, if there is a Croatian or Bosnian shop near you, head there to get those wafer sheets.
Now, let’s rustle up oblatne with silky, sticky and scrumptious chocolate filling.
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Hello – I was wondering could another shortcut be to use Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread instead of the chocolate filling you described above?
Hi Helen, I think Nutella is not firm enough. It would ooze and spill the moment you take oblatne out of the fridge. This filling is very firm when it sets.
Hi Andrea, I have been using Nutella for many years in my oblatne and have never had a problem of it oozing and spilling.
Good to know.
Looks delicious! I will have to see if I can find wafer sheets in my area 😀
Try a European deli. And let us know where you get them eventually. Others will probably like to know too.
Greetings! This recipe, like your others and your book, is excellent! I find myself frequently making field trips in New York to obtain my favorite Kras Napolitanke in order to satisfy my addiction to them. I never thought to try making these although I have frequently encountered them in the Polish Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Now with your recipe in hand, I will give it a go… Appreciate your comment to not expect the crispiness of a Kras wafer… managing expectations is a good thing and I suspect your recipe will yield delicious results… Thank You!
Thanks for your kind words, Mladen. Yes, expectations are important. Oblatne will never be Kraš napolitanke. They are similar but different. Sort of like from the same family, but each with their own unique quality. Enjoy oblatne!
Hello, How to you cut your oblate so they don’t crack. What type of knife or device do you use?
Ha! It’s a chef’s trick. I use Stanley knife. And I do that for all cakes that need to cut with precision. Also, have oblatne cold, straight from the fridge and use a heavy ruler, such as the one I have on the photo. Wood, metal, something like that.
I will try this. I tried the recipes on the oblatne packages but didn't like them. Can real Mexican dulce de leche be used as a shortcut to baking the condensed milk?
Yes, you can use the Mexican ready made dulce de leche. When I was in Russia, I noticed they also have that ready made. So, in some countries you will be able to get dulce de leche and in this way make oblatne even quicker 🙂
Not sure if it's me or on your end but none of these emails show the recipe fully! I have your book! Cheers
Hi Anka, I don’t know what you mean by emails. These are blog posts.