Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whistles: 19th Century American Filled Wafers

Whistles (Wafers) Filled with Strawberry Jam

About Wafers

Whistles are actually wafers. Wafers are essentially thin waffles that are usually made with a waffle-like iron in which each side of the wafer is imprinted with an image or with a textured decoration.  While warm, the wafers are rolled into a conical or tubular shape (similar to the tubular form of a whistle).  Wafers are therefore the ancestor to the waffle ice cream cone. 

The Recipe: Whistles

Ann Howe, The American Kitchen Directory and Housewife, 1863.

Half a pound of white sugar, quarter of a pound of butter, and six eggs, the whites and yelks beaten separately.  Stir the sugar and butter to a cream, then add the eggs previously beaten, and sifted flour to make a thick batter. flavor it with rosewater, if you like.  Drop the mixture by large spoonful on to buttered paper.  The mixture should be dropped several inches apart, and spread out thin.  Bake them till of a light brown, on a board, which will not take over five minutes.  Lay them on a moulding board  that has white sugar sprinkled on it; roll them on a stick while warm.  When cold, fill them with any kind of jelly that is thick.

Modern Recipe Adaptation

Yield: Ten 4.5" round wafers 


  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Stick of Butter, Softened
  • 2 Eggs, Separated
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Rosewater (or extract of vanilla, lemon, or almond)
  • 6 Tablespoons All-Purpose White Flour

  1. Preheat oven to 425ยบ F.
  2. Prepare your baking sheets by lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Then, draw circles on the parchment.  I used a 4/5" diameter cookie cutter and drew 6 circles on one sheet.  Prepare two sheets this way.
  3. Beat the egg whites until frothy.  Beat the egg yolks until well mixed.  
  4. Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the egg white, yolks, and rosewater.  Then add the flour.  The batter should be similar to a thick pancake batter.
  5. Spoon a measure of batter just shy of 2 Tbsp onto the center of each circle.  Use an off-set spatula to fill in the circles.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes.  While they are baking, spread some granulated sugar onto a large plate or cutting board (you can choose the amount based on your tastes.)
  7. Remove the wafer circles from the oven.
  8. Immediately roll each wafer off the paper using a conical roller made for this purpose (see picture) or a butter knife.  If using the wooden wafer roller, wet it first so that they wafers slide off easily.  Roll as pictured.
  9. Place the rolled wafers on the sugared surface and cool for 10 minutes.  Then, fill them with jam, Nutella, cream, ice cream, etc!  Enjoy.
Fill each circle with batter using an offset spatula to spread it.

Rolling the wafers
Wafer Roller

Note:  I like my wafers a little thick, but if you like them to be crispier, reduce the amount of batter you use and adjust cooking time accordingly.

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