Kotonjada is a sweet dish traditionally made in autumn, when the fragrant quinces are ripe for the picking, and during the holidays, when it’s often made as a candy for the Christmas table, especially in the Dalmatian hinterland. Quinces were often kept in homes to fill the air with their wonderful fragrance, but freshly picked ones, especially if they were long, were also used to prepare various delicious desserts. Among these is the kotonjada, which contains only sugar and lemon juice in addition to the astringent fruit.
This delicacy, also known as kotonjata or kodonjada, is made from peeled quinces that are cooked whole in a covered pot full of water until they soften. When they cool off, they are cored and their flesh is puréed. Sugar is then added in the amount that matches the weight of the quinces, and the whole mix is gradually heated on low heat. Some lemon zest is also added, and the whole thing is cooked, with constant stirring. When the mixture becomes thick enough to see the bottom of the pot while stirring, freshly squeezed lemon juice is poured in. The contents of the pot are emptied into a long, narrow and warm mould and left to sit at room temperature. After that, it is moved to a cold place to harden. Kotonjada that is completely cooled and settled is removed from the mould by turning it over. It is then normally left to air dry for a few days before being cut into slices.
The slices of kotonjada are rolled in crystal sugar or put away in a container among fresh bay leaves, as they protected sweets from ants. Since kotonjada is a treat with a long shelf life, homemakers would add other ingredients to it as well, such as crunchy almonds or walnuts, to make it richer. It is usually served with a glass of fine sparkling wine or the dessert wine Prošek.