Is it any surprise that my ideal adventure has nothing to do with camping or wild animals? I’m a city girl, born and bred. Roaming around a neighborhood filled with ethnic grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, and bookstores is heaven to me.
On a recent trip to New York City, I explored Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. The neighborhood is home to a large community of Russian immigrants and as we walked around, it felt as though we could have easily been in Eastern Europe instead of NY.
With amazing dried fruits, fresh baked bread, deli and beautiful baked goods all around me, I browsed my way up one street and down anlther. Shoppers and sellers all seemed to be chatting in Russian. Though I’m sure I could have found someone to answer questions in English, I was content to wander on my own through store aisles and open-air displays crowded with food and people.
I could easily have bought lots of goodies. However, my better half reminded me that transporting heavy bags by subway and on foot would be difficult. Reluctantly I limited my purchases to 2 packages of the lightest and least expensive item I saw – these wafers.
After the purchase and an easy trip home, the fun had just begun. I saw a few cakes in Brighton Beach bakeries that looked as thought they used the wafer layers, but I hadn’t a clue as to what the cake fillings were or how construct such a cake.
I began my wafer cake research (of course) with Google. A few searches found multiple versions of the cake, instructions for fillings galore, and many bruised ethnic egos in comments on recipes, as Poles, Czechs, Bosnians and Russians all claimed this particular sweet as their own. I also found out that Bosnians (and maybe others) call it Oblatne.
I made my own version and served it for dessert last weekend with berries on the side. It was delicious and reminded me of a Kit Kat candy bar without the hard chocolate covering. I love Kit Kats, so maybe I’ll cut the leftover cake into small portions and glaze it.
This cake is no-bake, a great advantage during warm months when you don't want to turn on the oven. The wafers act as "cake" layers. The stove top filling is easy and you refrigerate the cake for a few hours or overnight before serving - perfect for a summer party or dinner.
Russian Wafer Cake or Oblatne with Chocolate-Nut Filling
Cost - Less than $7 per cake/$1 per serving Servings - 8 or more
- 1 package of cake wafers (77 grams – incredibly light). When I got home, I checked online and found a 150 gram package of rectangular wafers on Amazon for less than $5, called sloboda.
- 8 ounces of milk (I used whole)
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar
- 4 ounces (1 stick) of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3.5 – 4 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
- 3-4 ounces finely ground nuts (I used pistachios)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Cutting board
- Grater (for grinding nuts)
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups (heatproof liquid measure for milk and ¼ cup solid for sugar)
- Small bowl – for ground nuts
- Medium mixing bowl
- Small saucepan
- Large spoon
- Knife or offset spatula for spreading filling
- Plastic wrap
- Chop chocolate and grind nuts. Cut butter into roughly 8 pieces.
- Bring milk and sugar to a low boil in the saucepan. (Careful - if you let them get to a rolling boil, the mixture will boil over the edges of the pan.)
- Lower the light and simmer the milk/sugar mixture for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it is approximately half of the original volume. When I thought it was ready, I poured the milk and sugar mixture back into the Pyrex (heatproof) liquid measuring cup and found that it was indeed just over 4 ounces, half of what it was before simmering.
- Pour the hot milk mixture into mixing bowl. Add the butter, chocolate, and vanilla. As the butter and chocolate melt, mix until the ingredients are well combined.
- Add the ground nuts and stir again.
- Place two large pieces of plastic wrap on a clean table or counter top in a cross pattern. Put one wafer in the middle of the cross.
- Drizzle a small amount of the filling onto that wafer and spread carefully, just to the outer edges. (The wafer is delicate – don't attack it with gusto or it will crack. Turn on soothing music and think ballet or figure skating, not hip-hop or hockey.) There should be enough filing to lightly cover all - or almost all - of the wafers. When I spread this filling, I realized I had put too much on - and gently scraped a bit off to put back in the bowl.
- Add another layer of wafer on top and repeat, until all the wafers and filling are used. I had one layer left over from the package and just put it aside.
- Gently wrap the plastic wrap around the filled cake and press with the palm of your hand – again gently, just to make sure there are no major gaps between layers.
- Refrigerate the wrapped cake at least 3 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to eat it, cut the cake with long, sharp knife.