Unique to Dubrovnik and Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline, this baked custard dessert – or rožata – is not unlike crème caramel; something many people are probably more familiar with.
The difference along the Dalmatian Coast is that rożata has two additions that set it apart from the ones in Spain and France.
The first thing is the use of lemon zest, to infuse the milk as it heats during the custard-making process.
Secondly it’s the addition of ružolin – also known as rozalin or ružovača. This is basically a rose liqueur that can also be found around this part of Croatia, and I’ve got to say, it’s not the easiest stuff to source.
Well, not in Sydney, anyway.
Research tells me it’s a liqueur that’s made in small batches, usually in people’s homes, and it’s available in specialty stores, markets or simply given away to friends and family as gifts. If I had the time, and a healthy supply of fresh rose petals, I would have done a batch of it at home. The only other ingredients you need is sugar and rakija – a distilled spirit that tastes much like firewater.
Many recipes for rožata use rum in place of ružolin. I used a mixture of rum and rosewater, as rožata does have a distinct rose flavour.
The end result? A delicate wobbly custard with just the right sweetness, the hint of lemon and aroma of rose.
And I love that it’s listed by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture, just like the hrapoćuša I made here.