101 Tastes of Croatia: 4. Mandarine

Total Croatia News

Slatka kao prva ljubav/Sweet like the first love

A a citrus favourite from the Neretva!

MANDARINA (tangerine)

Welcome to one of the best seasons in Croatia: the mandarina/klementina season. They are not the same fruit so pay attention! The tangerine is a fruit for itself, while a clementine is a hybrid between tangerine and an orange and is usually sweeter. But back to the main thing: mandarina (sg.). In Croatia mandarine (pl.) moslty grow on plantations around Neretva river aka The Green Valley. They are late autumn/winter fruit and the no.1 source of vitamin C for an average Croat.

When they hit the stands on markets and in stores (although the ones in markets always suck) in mid October you’d think there would be a mass madness going on. You’d be wrong. Everyone knows that after week or two more will come and the original price of 10 kn per kilo will drop down by 50%. Right now you can buy 3 kilos for 10 kuna on the markets. A bargain!

When picking them you should pay attention to the easiness of peeling and juiciness of the flesh. They vary from lemon sour to sugar sweet and I recommend the ones in between. How to know you’re a Croat:

1. The first time you bring mandarine home you eat at least 2 kilos and have to buy more the next day.
2. You have a connection in Metković/Opuzen which provides you with the ”good stuff”.
3. Your fruit bowl at home consists of 90% mandarine from mid October to mid January.
4. Your finger tips are yellow from all the skin peeling.

We eat it as it is, make a jam or a simple sponge/polenta cake (rarely). I believe the general notion is that it’s just too good as a fruit to spoil it by baking. I’ll go against the tide again and provide you with a recipe for a tangerine chocolate tart.


– 400 g of butter
– 200 g powdered sugar
– 500 g of all purpose flour + 1 table spoon
– 4 egg yolks + 4 eggs
– Salt
– 150 g of high quality chocolate (min. 70% cocoa)
– 180 g of regular sugar
– 3 table spoons of golden syrup
– 8 table spoons of cocoa powder
– 3 table spoons of sour cream
– Zest of 4 tangerines + 200 ml of tangerine juice
– 100 ml of runny honey


1. First to make the pie crust mix 250 g of butter with 200 g of powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Then add the egg yolks and flour and 4 table spoons of cold water. Lightly knead the dough in a ball shape. The point is to knead as little as possible so it doesn’t become elsatic and tough. Cover in cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour.

2. Then cut the dough in little pieces and cover the baking tray with the pieces. Lightly press them in the tray to connect them. Prick with a fork and set in the freezer for 1 hour. Then bake for 15 minutes in an oven set to 180 Celsius degrees.

3. For the filling place the rest of the butter (150 g) with 8 table spoons of cocoa powder, chocolate and a pinch of salt in a bowl over the pan of boiling water. Lightly stir until everything melts and comes together.

4. In a seperate bowl beat the eggs with 180 g of sugar then add 3 table spoons of golden syrup and 3 table spoons of sour cream. Grate in the zest of 4 medium tangerines and add 100 ml of freshly squeezed tangerine juice and 1 table spoon of flour.

5. Mix together with the chocolate and pour on the crust. Place in the oven for 50 minutes on 150 Celsius degrees.

6. While the tart is baking make the syrup. In a sauce pan add 100 ml of runny honey along with 100 ml of tangerine juice and reduce for 10 minutes.

7. When the tart is done, leave it to cool for an hour then serve drizzled with tangerine syrup.


Enjoy the chocolate extravaganza (but not too often!)


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