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Balkan Čupavci Recipe

Balkan Čupavci Recipe

Čupavci is a traditional Balkan dessert consisting of small, soft sponge cake squares covered in chocolate and desiccated coconut. They are particularly popular in Croatia and Bosnia where they are also hold significance as a Christmas cake, however they are also eaten in Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and throughout the Balkans, albeit with a slightly different name.

The sponge is made with a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and baking powder. They are then soaked in a sweet syrup, usually made with a mixture of water, sugar, and vanilla essence.

After the sponge cake squares have been thoroughly soaked in the syrup, they are rolled in desiccated coconut, giving them its distinctive appearance. The coconut coating adds a pleasant texture and flavor to the dessert, complementing the softness of the cake.

Čupavci are often served chilled, allowing the flavors to meld together and creating a refreshing treat, especially during warm weather. They are commonly enjoyed as a dessert or a sweet snack, and can be found in various bakeries, pastry shops and homes throughout the Balkans.

A similar type of cake is eaten in Australia and New Zealand called ‘Lamingtons’ which Čupavci is often confused.

Origin & Cultural Significance

The name ‘čupavci’ translates in English to hairy ones, referring to the shredded coconut coating that looks like hair or fur.

Čupavci holds cultural significance as a beloved sweet treat in Balkan cuisine, often enjoyed during special occasions such as holidays, family gatherings, and celebrations. It represents a nostalgic taste of traditional Balkan desserts and is cherished for its simplicity, comforting flavors and the memories it evokes, particularly from Christmas. The dessert has become a symbol of Balkan culinary heritage and is enjoyed by people of all ages across the region.

Balkan Čupavci cake

Bosnian Čupavci Recipe

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Čupavci is a traditional Balkan dessert consisting of small, soft sponge cake squares covered in chocolate and desiccated coconut.


For the cake:

  • All-purpose flour - 2 cups
  • Granulated sugar - 1 cup
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
  • Baking powder - 1 tsp
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Large eggs - 2
  • Milk - 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil - 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

For the syrup:

  • Granulated sugar - 1 1/2 cups
  • Water - 1 1/2 cups
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut - 1/2 cup

For the chocolate glaze:

  • Heavy cream - 1/2 cup
  • Dark chocolate, chopped - 6 oz.
  • Unsalted butter - 1 tbsp


  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 175°C. Next, take a 9x13-inch baking pan. Grease it and sprinkle a little bit of flour.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder in a large mixing dish.
  3. Take another bowl, mix the eggs, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Stirring occasionally, add the wet components in little amounts to the dry ingredients. Watch out not to combine too much.
  5. Spread the batter evenly after pouring it into the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Make the syrup and bake the cake simultaneously. The water and sugar should be combined in a small pot. Over medium heat, bring the two ingredients to a boil while stirring periodically. It should simmer for five minutes after lowering the heat. Add vanilla extract after turning the heat off.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven when it has finished baking and allow it to cool in the pan for approximately 5 minutes.
  9. Over the warm cake, drizzle the syrup evenly. Allow the cake to absorb the syrup for 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Spread the coconut shreds evenly in a dish. Place the cake on top of the coconut after carefully removing it from the pan. On the cake's top, gently press the coconut.
  11. In a small saucepan, warm the heavy cream until it begins to boil in order to make the chocolate glaze. Make sure to do it over a medium flame. Add the butter and chopped chocolate after taking the pan off the heat. Stir the ingredients until it is smooth and the chocolate has melted.
  12. With a spatula, evenly add the chocolate glaze over the cake with the coconut topping.
  13. Before cutting the cake into squares, let the icing set and the cake cool fully.
  14. Serve the prepared dish and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 221mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 3gSugar: 50gProtein: 6g

Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.

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