Although in Croatia they are connected to Kvarner, Istria and Dalmatia, over the last few years fritule have also conquered the continental part of the country, and so with the arrival of colder days you can taste them in almost every corner, particularly in Zagreb during the increasingly popular time of Advent.
They are also called uštipci, pršurate, frite or prikle – basically fritters, and they are traditionally prepared in the days of fasting, on Christmas Eve and the time when meat is not eaten. Today we gladly eat them topped with various sweet syrups such as chocolate, caramel and fruits of the forest, however, the original fritule are served sprinkled with icing sugar or rolled in granulated sugar whilst they are still warm.
Soft and airy, fritule are prepared by quick deep frying in oil which gives them a golden colour and outer crispiness. The round balls are smaller than classic Shrovetide doughnuts (krafne) and they are also a gladly seen dessert at carnival time. Since they are prepared all along the Adriatic coast, including the islands, the recipes differ from place to place and from region to region.
Given that they are fried in deep oil, added to the dough is a dose of rakija (brandy) or rum which prevents the fritule from imbuing too much oil during the frying and they remain a light, sweet snack. Depending on where they are made, also added to the mixture are raisins, walnuts, pine nuts, grated orange peel, yoghurt, vanilla, lemon, Maraschino liqueur, a little salt or cinnamon for an especially attractive aroma. In order that the fritule are nice, rounded and uniform, it is necessary to prepare a thicker mixture than that for pancakes, smooth and without lumps of flour. The mixture is then taken into the left hand and squeezed out through the fist, between the thumb and index finger, whilst with the right hand with the help of a spoon the necessary amount of dough is separated and dropped into the hot oil. Today special pouches for the application of confectioner’s cream are used for this purpose or the with the help of a greased or just wet spoon the dough is dropped straight into the hot oil.
It is important that during frying there are not too many fritule in the pan so that they are fried uniformly, and after removing them from the oil it is necessary to place them on a paper towel which will soak up all the unwanted oil.
The snack-sized balls of fried sweet dough are a favourite winter treat and so fresh and aromatic fritule always disappear instantly.