The most popular dessert in Dubrovnik is called Rozata. Sometimes also called rozada, it is a custard pudding hailing from the Dubrovnik region, particularly popular in the warmer summer months. When explaining the philosophy behind this dessert, people usually tend to compare it to creme brulee or flan. But every Dubrovnik native will tell you that this dessert is incomparable to any other. Let us call it a silky scented pudding drowning in pools of caramel.
The first records of rozata date back to the time of Venetians, when it was known as “the friar’s pudding”. Despite the influences of the Venetian and Ottoman Empire, the recipe has been passed down for generations and its originality has been successfully preserved. Its name comes from a unique Dubrovnik rose liqueur called Rozalin, which gives the dessert its special flavor. However, a lot of local recipes offer a variation, adding raisins and/or nuts and rum. Rozata can be found in almost every restaurant in the city. However, it is not difficult to make yourself and surprise your guests with a little bit of Dubrovnik on your table. A very short ingredient list makes it even more popular.
Let’s talk chemistry. Rozata is always baked at low temperatures in a water bath. Exposing it to a high temperature will result in cooked eggs and a hollow and bubbly structure. The proper consistency is creamy, whereas mousse-like appearance is not acceptable. It is also necessary to make rozata in high modules (never use springform pans because the liquid filling would run out through the cracks) in a larger pan filled with boiling water. It is the so called bain marie technique that creates a gentle and uniform heat around the custard. While baking in the oven, the water creates a barrier between the custard and the direct heat of the oven, helping the custard cook slowly and evenly. This is the key to getting a creamy consistency without curdled eggs. Water baths are most often used for egg-based dishes. The proteins in the eggs are very heat sensitive and only need to be warmed to cook thoroughly. Cooking them with a slow, gentle heat keeps the eggs soft and smooth.
For the caramel:
- 7 tbsp sugar
- 500 ml milk
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 6 eggs
- 2 tbsp vanilla sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp rose liqueur (or dark rum)
- For the caramel, place sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and let it dissolve. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until it turns golden brown. Do not stir, do not put water in it. Remove from heat and carefully divide the caramel among 4 ramekins. Be quick because the caramel hardens really fast. Let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- In a saucepan, combine milk and 6 tbsp sugar, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and vanilla sugar. The key is to whisk the mixture just until it comes together making sure it doesn’t froth. Add lemon zest and rose liqueur and stir just to combine. Pour the milk in. Strain the custard through a thick sieve and pour into 4 ramekins. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour boiling water into the baking dish until 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Be careful not to get any water on the custard.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the custards are almost fully set. Remove from the oven and from the hot water bath. Let them cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
- To serve, invert the custards onto serving plates and serve immediately.