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Apulian Cooking
Filled wafers Gargano and nearby Abruzzo both claim paternity.
If the ingredients are right the flavor is amazing!
by Dario Ersetti
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Filled wafers. Photo by Dario Ersetti

In the cooking field, administrative boundaries count for very little. The area of Foggia for instance has been influenced more by Abruzzo than by the rest of Puglia. A typical example are troccoli, a kind of pasta deriving from Abruzzo’s spaghetti alla chitarra.

Another example are filled wafers, which almost certainly originated in the town of Agnone, on the border between Abruzzo and Molise. Widespread throughout Abruzzo, they then became a sweet typical of Monte Sant’Angelo, on Gargano, even having an exact “place of birth”, the convent of the nuns of the Santa Chiara Monastery. The story goes that a nun dropped some caramelized almonds and to pick them up she used a communion wafer, thus inventing the sweet.

The recipe from Abruzzo (at the time Agnone was in Abruzzo) has two wafers filled with almond, caramelized walnut and honey chocolate, with optional cinnamon and cloves.

In the Monte Sant’Angelo recipe the two wafers enclose almonds with caramelized sugar and honey, with a whiff of lemon or orange zest.

To prepare the wafers the utensil used is like a pair of tongs with two plates and long rotating handles. It is heated well on the fire, the plates are greased with pork rind, a little mixture is placed on one of them and then flattened with the other, it is then put over the heat and the wafer is left to cook just long enough for a short prayer to be recited.

In Abruzzo, the same procedure with different ingredients also produces grid cakes, commonly found in northern Europe and the United States, where they are called waffles. The utensil is the same as the one used for wafers but instead of being smooth, the plates have a pattern of deep squares which gives the sweet its typical honeycomb look.

It needs to be said that the wafers of Monte Sant’Angelo are delicious in themselves, unlike the wafers used in church. At the risk of seeming blasphemous, we believe that if they used the Pugliese wafers in church there would be more people taking communion, just like St. Thomas Aquinus who maintained that in the phenomenon of transubstantiation, our senses perceive the appearance and taste of the wafer even though the substance is the body of Christ.

To conclude, if you taste the wafers made by Gargan’ok, an artisan from Monte Sant’Angelo, you realize that a simple sweet with few ingredients can reach perfection. The perfect amounts of ingredients guarantee a unique flavor. It has to be tasted!



The recipe


Ingredients for the wafers:

- 100 g of flour

- 200 g of water

for the filling:

- 1 kg of almonds

- 500 g of honey

- 100 g of sugar

- lemon or orange zest


The wafers can obviously be store-bought or made at home, but that requires an experienced hand.

Toast the almonds in a pan, then transfer them to another pot in which the honey and sugar have been used to make caramel.

Lay a certain number of wafers on the table, place a spoonful of almonds on each, cover with another wafer and press to distribute the almonds well.

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