Albanian Sheqerpare cookies are shortbread or butter cookies soaked in syrup. They’re a traditional dessert in Albania and some surrounding Balkan countries. Cities like Dibra or Korça have their own variation of Sheqerpare. There are city specific recipes for Sheqerpare in Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro as well. The majority of Albanians around the world call this dessert Sheqerpare but very few call it tatli or tatlia.
What Does Sheqerpare Mean?
The word sheqer in Albanian language means sugar. Sheqerpare has become through the centuries an Albanian traditional dessert, however its origins are Turkish. I believe in Turkey this dessert is called Sekerpare. Obviously through the years, each country has its own versions and variations of the recipe.
I have seen some Turkish versions of the recipe with semolina and pistachios while in Albania we don’t use semolina for this recipe. We mostly use walnuts or almonds to garnish while some recipes I have seen online from other countries show pistachios, coconut flakes, powder sugar etc etc.
It’s typical to score the dough with fork before baking and adding walnuts or almonds in the middle.
Process of Making Sheqerpare
You need very few ingredients to make this Albanian dessert.
- Baking Soda
I do add vanilla too but traditionally vanilla is added to syrup. Usually vanilla came in powder form so it was dissolved in syrup. Since I live in US, it’s easy to find vanilla extract so I usually add the extract while making the dough plus some more in the syrup:).
Syrup is one of the most important steps of achieving a Sheqerpare that melts in your mouth. Making syrup can be tricky because if you don’t add enough sugar it’ll be too light and thin. But if you boil it in too high temperature or don’t dissolve the sugar properly, the syrup can crystallize.
I usually add a freshly cut slice of lemon to the syrup as it starts boiling, then lower temperature to simmer and then turn heat off completely at the 5 minutes mark. The syrup will still cook with its internal heat for few more minutes on its own.
Usually syrup is just sugar, water and lemon. Some variations include added vanilla, cinnamon, cloves etc.
- 4 eggs: 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 tbsps butter For US readers, this is equal to 1 stick of butter.
- 2.25 cups all purpose flour
- 0.25 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 2.5 cups water
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 slice lemon
Making Sheqerpare Syrup
- Add sugar and water in a small saucepan. Add vanilla extract. Once syrup boils, add lemon slice and lower heat to low. After 5 minutes, turn heat off and let the syrup cool.
- Melt 8 tbsps of butter, don't burn the butter. Remove from heat when it has almost all melted, the residual heat will melt the rest. Set aside so it cools down.
- Separate egg yolks for 3 eggs. Add 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup sugar and start whisking.
- Once eggs and sugar are creamy, then slowly add the butter as you still whisk with one hand. Incorporate the butter with butter and sugar.
- Add vanilla extract and continue whisking.
- Mix flour with baking soda. Add very little baking soda, otherwise the cookies will puff too much.
- Spoon over flour mix over the mixing bowl where we have been mixing the eggs, sugar and butter. Whisk to incorporate slowly and keep adding few tbsps at a time. Once you can't whisk anymore because dough is thick, switch to a spatula. Depending on your level of skill you might be able to mix all the way with the spatula. But if you can't, just use your hands and create the dough that way.
- If the mix feels too slippery (usually hot kitchen temperature), then it's ok to refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes or so. If you have a cool kitchen, you can start to shape the dough right away.
- Separate the dough in 12 rolls. Make cookie shapes with your hand. Add each to a baking tray. Separate the cookies by about 1 inch so they don't run into each other while baking. Bake in 2 batches if you don't have a big enough tray.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies for about 30 minutes. You want to check often starting at around 23 minutes as each oven is a bit different. You want the cookies to get that orange/reddish golden brown on top but not burn.
- Add cool syrup over hot cookies or hot syrup on cool cookies. Let the cookies absorb the syrup, and cool down. They're best served the next day as all the flavors have mixed and settled:). Enjoy!!
- This recipe makes 12 sheqerpare.
- Bake in two batches if your baking tray is not too big, they can expand a little so will lose the shape if they touch while baking.
- These cookies will always taste better the next day once they have absorbed the syrup better.
- Butter – try to pick unsalted butter. It’s ok to add a pinch of salt to dough but salted butter can change the whole flavor profile of the cookie.
Actually you can. There are versions of this dessert in Turkey called Sekerpare that do use a little semolina in the dough. I have also seen an Albanian version that adds 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in the dough.
Sheqerpare in Albania is served to guests visiting your home. Usually, you serve 1 Sheqerpare per person accompanied by a liqueur for women and raki for men. At the end, you finish it off with a Turkish coffee. There’s always a cup of water in the serving tray as well.
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Other Albanian Recipes
Let’s keep with the desserts theme:)), I want to share with you other Albanian desserts. Check out my recipes below:
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