On Hvar Island, as elsewhere throughout Croatia, there are innumerable old recipes which have been handed down through countless generations. All of these recipes are designed to make use of the readily available ingredients which could be found in one’s garden. The majority of traditional recipes for sweets were for dry cakes, as there were no refrigerators or freezers to keep them fresh.
The recipes listed here are those which are most popular in our Jelsa region. Cakes and sweets are always prepared with the utmost care from original recipes, which in some families are kept as a closely guarded secret. As with all recipes, details of each vary from cook to cook, but the principles are always standard, the differences simply subtle nuances.
You can enjoy these little gastronomic treats at the end of a meal or as a snack with coffee or tea in mid-morning or mid-afternoon. They will give you an intriguing insight into the aromas and tastes of Hvar. Very often they are enhanced by the refreshing scent of lemon or orange.
We strongly recommend you to try these satisfying local treats, and we are sure you will fall in love with them at the first bite!
ROŽADA or ROŽATA – similar to a crême caramel, and supremely enjoyable. It is made from just five ingredients: milk, sugar, eggs, water and lemon peel. It takes experience and expertise to create just the right proportion between the chilled creamy part with the caramelized sugar topping. Soft, delicious and cooling, it is perfect the perfect dessert during the hot summer months.
HVAR CVITI (‘Flower cakes’) – these simple traditional Hvar cakes will be an absolute favourite of anyone who appreciates authentic local products. The ingredients are: eggs, sugar, flour, fat, lemon peel, orange peel, milk, ammoniac powder, and anise extract for special flavour.
PITVE CAKE – this cake originated in the village of Pitve, and is made without flour, so it is suitable for anyone with gluten intolerance. It is both tasty and filling, despite not having flour and consisting of only four main ingredients: eggs, almonds, sugar and lemon peel. A fifth ingredient, chocolate, can be added at the cook’s discretion, although then, of course, the cake might contain some gluten.
ARANCINI and LIMUNCINI (candied orange or lemon peel slices) – these sweets are very simple, having only two ingredients: sugar and orange or lemon peel. As citrus trees grow readily in Mediterranean countries, these sweets are typical of the region. They are long-lasting, and make a good souvenir to take home from a Mediterranean holiday.
BRUŠTULONI MENDULI (sugar roasted almonds) – these are made throughout Dalmatia, and were traditional gifts for all special occasions. The ingredients are simple: almonds, sugar and water. But the preparation, while seeming simple, requires skill and experience to create the sugared almonds as they appear in this picture.
STARIGRAD PAPRENJOCI (Stari Grad honey biscuits) – The name paprenjak or paprenjok suggests ‘pepper biscuit’, but pepper is not one of its ingredients. It was first mentioned in Stari Grad’s historical records in the 16th century, so its tradition goes back a long way. This tasty, slightly spicy biscuit has become a symbol for every major happening on the island. Its ingredients are: honey, olive oil, prošek, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, bicarbonate of soda, flour and sugar. It has the advantage of being long-lasting, so it is an excellent local souvenir to take home.
PANDOLETI or GALETINE (‘finger biscuits’) – these are traditional long-lasting dry biscuits, of Italian origin, as the local Dalmatian names suggest. They are made from eggs, flour, lemon peel, orange peel, with almonds as the main ingredient. They were commonly eaten after being dunked in tea or wine, or in prošek on Christmas Eve or Good Friday. Anyone who likes almonds won’t be able to resist these subtly flavoured biscuits!
PRŠURATE or FRITULE (fritters) – Christmas Eve and Christmas without these sweet fritters are unimaginable on Hvar. It can’t really be Christmas Eve or Christmas if there are no Pršurate! They are also baked at other times, for all major feast days and celebrations. They were in fact made all over the Mediterranean area, and naturally every household had its own recipe with its secret ingredient, which varied according to the particular place, and also the family’s finances, as the fritters can be made with simpler or more sumptuous ingredients, depending on individual means. The basic ingredients are eggs, flour, rakija, water, lemon peel and orange peel, with the possible addition of raisins, candied fruit and rose-flavoured rakija.
HRUSTULE or KROŠTULE – There are countless recipes for these sweet fritters, as for most traditional sweets, varying from household to household, place to place. Optional extras in the recipe include vinegar, white wine, rakija or grated lemon peel. When Hvar was under the Venetian Republic, which happened a few times in its history, the fritters were called ‘crostoli’. The ingredients are: flour, eggs, fat, sugar and a liquor of choice, which might be rakija, rum, Maraschino or white wine. The batter has to be rolled out as thinly as possible, then cut into fine thin ribbons, which can be shaped into bows, butterflies or small squares with one or two slits through them. These fritters are characterized by their lightness and crispiness.