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.
- 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.
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.
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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