Croatia’s Adriatic coastline is best known for its beautiful salty sea, but you should keep an eye out for its sweet delights as well!
Many of these are sweets “for tomorrow”, meaning they keep well, can be made months ahead, and last until eaten, so you can enjoy them at home as well, while remembering your Croatian holiday.
Take your Pick
From Istria in the northwest to Konavle in the southeast, one can find the ever-popular kroštule (shortcrust pastry mainly “tied” in the form of a bow, deep-fried in oil, and dusted with sugar); fritule (small round yeast dumplings with raisins, deep-fried in oil, and dusted with sugar); pandišpanj (sponge cake flavoured with prošek and dried citrus fruits); sugared-coated almonds; paprenjaci (hard cookies made with honey and spices); bobići (shortcrust almond cookie balls); and arancini (orange peels marinated in water, rolled in sugar, and dried). Something for everyone, or even better – everything for everyone!
If you like rakija, you will love smokvenjak. The smokvenjak is basically a type of cake made solely from dried figs with an addition of walnuts or almonds and other aromas. The island of Vis is known for its smokvenjak which they call hib, or hljeb. On Vis, they add roughly chopped almonds, dry anise, and travarica (herbal brandy). The hibmixture is then dried in the bura wind or in the oven. Smokvenjak is traditionally served with travarica or liqueurs. Cheers and bon appétit!
If you are more into shortbread cakes with a rich filling, then head to the central Adriatic region. For instance, amareti are a baked rich mixture of ground almonds, egg whites, butter, and sugar, while klašuni have a similar structure, but the outside coating is made of shortcrust pastry, while the almond filling is additionally seasoned with mandatory rose water or liqueur (rozolin) made from the petals of a special type of rose. You will never be able to know all the ingredients for the most irresistible klašuni from the city of Korčula, because they are kept a secret by the greatest masters of the trade. But it is no secret they taste wonderful.
The Dessert from Heaven
The Dalmatian classic is the paradižet whose roots originate in Austrian cuisine. This dessert has a thick liquid base, which is a mixture of milk and cooked egg yolks, to which are added shortly boiled spoon-sized dumplings made of whisked egg whites that resemble fluffy white clouds. And you will feel like you’re in seventh heaven when you try it, for sure.
La Caramel en Rose
Rožata is today probably the most popular sweet on the Adriatic, and it is easiest to compare it to crème caramel. Our traditional recipe calls for a mandatory addition of rose water or rose petal liqueur which is how it got its Croatian name, and what gives it its originality and special refined taste.
Special Treats for Special Occasions
On special occasions such as weddings and other very important family celebrations, the Croatians show off an unbelievable extravagance of divine cakes. Perhaps the most luxurious such cake on the Adriatic is the hrapaćuša from the island of Brač. In addition to the abundance of orange and lemon juice and maraschino, it is overflowing with almonds. The cake has a dense top layer of roughly chopped walnuts that resemble the rock formation found in the caves above the place it was named after.
The Rab Cake is made with similar ingredients, except that its tantalising and incredibly delicious filling is wrapped in a wafer-thin dough. The history of this sweet goes back to the end of the XII century when Benedictine nuns made it for Pope Alexander III for his sea travels along the Adriatic. And holy moly, it is delicious!
Last But Not Least
In this trio of finest cakes, the Skradin Cake boasts a very different flamboyance and must have drawn its inspiration from the Viennese Sachertorte. The Skradin version is a bold interpretation resulting in an even better cake (yes, we said it!). The Viennese original is replaced with an extravagance of flavours where the marmalade is substituted with honey, an abundance of walnuts, and hardly any flour, as well as rose petal liqueur and a generous chocolate glaze.
We know what you’re thinking now and yes; you’ll have to try them all.