Snenokle (šnenokle in Croatian typography) are a classic summer dessert in Croatia. If you never tried them, this post hopefully entices you. In fact, you might even prefer šnenokle to vanilla ice cream in the future.
First, let's dig into the origin and names of this sumptuous dessert.
In continental Croatia, the word šnenokle comes from the German schneenockerln (snow dumplings). The dessert travelled to us from Austria via France. As you may guess, the closest sibling to our šnenokle is the French île flottante – the floating island.
Coastal Croatia enjoys a very similar type of sweet. They call it paradižot or paradižet. This twin sister to snenokle crossed the Adriatic sea from Italy, with slight differences. One thing remains a mystery though. The original Italian word sciumette (little foams) has no resemblance to paradižot.
Don't worry about these details. Once you sample a single bite, it won't matter what you've prepared. Snenokle or paradižot. The Austrian or the Italian version. Croatians are famous for adapting recipes to our own taste. As long as it's delicious, nothing else matters.
Snenokle and paradižot differences
I love how we changed the original French floating island into our own dessert. In France, they cook one floating island. But just as the Croatian coast boasts over a thousand islands, our snenokle have more than one fluffy meringue bite. Precious!
Snenokle are closer to the French recipe. They consist only of egg white clouds dunked in a sea of custard cream. Paradižot, on the other hand, has some additions. Biscuits on the bottom of the serving bowl, a sprinkle of Maraschino liqueur, and some grated chocolate on top.
When I make snenokle, I find a middle ground between the two versions. I love dressing the serving bowl with biscuits. But I skip the liqueur and the chocolate on top. In my world, it's either vanilla or chocolate – I don't like to mix.
When šnenokle are well chilled, biscuits sop up the custard and make this dessert extra delicious. And to continue with the maritime metaphor, think of biscuits as the coral reef of šnenokle.
Snenokle (paradižot) recipe
Šnenokle are an emotionally loaded sweet, and for some reason always disarm men. They remember how their mothers pampered them with šnenokle, so girlfriends and wives continue treating their beaus to this luscious dessert.
Before you start cooking, remember one important guideline. You eat šnenokle with a spoon and you’re allowed to hog the whole serving bowl if this is your favourite mood lifter.
Snenokle or Paradižot - Croatian floating island dessert
- 4 egg whites
- 60 g granulated sugar ([⅓ cup])
- 1 l milk ([4 ¼ cup])
- 4 egg yolks
- 80 g granulated sugar ([½ cup])
- Vanilla bean or extract
- 20 g cornstarch ([2 ½ tbsp])
Biscuits of your liking
- Break the biscuits into smaller pieces and arrangethem on the bottom of a serving bowl. I use about 20 biscuits - enough togenerously cover the whole bottom.
- Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually start adding the sugar. Continue beating to get a stiff meringue. To test if the meringue is firm enough, flip the bowl upside down. If it doesn’t move, you’re golden.
- Bring milk to a boil. Place your meringue close to the stove - you’ll be shaping the ‘islands’ and dropping them into the hot milk. Take two tablespoons. Use the first one to scoop some meringue and the second one to close the shape.
- Drop each ‘island’ into the milk. Don’t overcrowd the saucepan because the ‘islands’ will expand as they poach.
- After a couple of minutes, when the ‘islands’ have puffed up, turn them on the other side. When both sides are done, take them out and place them on top of the biscuits in the serving bowl.
- Strain the milk and keep it simmering on the stove.
- Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract (or scraped vanilla pod) and cornstarch. Take a small amount of hot milk and pour it over the mixture to temper it. Whisk to distribute the heat.
- Take the tempered egg yolk mixture and slowly pour it into the milk. Continue cooking on low heat to avoid the egg yolks from curdling. It’s crucial that you keep whisking. When the cream begins to thicken, continue to cook for another 2 minutes to activate the cornstarch. It’s ready when your whisk begins leaving tracks in the cream.
- Ladle the custard cream over the ‘islands’. Give the serving bowl a light shake to distribute the cream evenly.
- Chill for a few hours. Serve in a bowl and eat with a spoon.
Your turn to make snenokle
In my house, waiting for šnenokle to set is the hardest part. We keep peeping into the fridge as if we can speed up the cooling time. Many were the times when we had šnenokle still warm, and from the serving bowl - nothing wrong with that!
Have you tried making šnenokle yourself? How did you like them?
If you liked this recipe, you can find many more in my Croatian Desserts cookbook.
Bestselling cookbook of traditional Croatian Desserts
This glossy, full color edition boasts: 50 step-by-step recipes, 224 pages, 500 images & expert baking tips