Lots of the desserts I’ve grown to love (and grown from loving) in Kosovo are variations on a theme of carbohydrate soaked in syrup. In baklava the carbohydrate in question is filo pastry but the principle is very similar as in shandatlie. As with the baklava, you can try replacing some or all of the sugar for the syrup with honey for a more complex flavour.
I invited a Kosovan friend over and together we prepared some shandatlie, using a recipe from the Hysa Albanian cookbook. Even with the walnuts to take the edge off the sweetness, this is cloying stuff. It goes well with some tart fruit such as raspberries or pomegranate seeds, and/ or with creme fraiche. Neither of these are typical at the Kosovan table, though.
3.75 cups of sugar
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons honey
0.75 cup ground walnuts
3 cups flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together all the honey, walnuts, flour, bicarbonate of soda and 3 eggs, 0.75 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons butter. Stir until just combined.
Pour the mixture into a greased baking tin.
Brush the top with beaten egg
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes
While the cake is cooking, prepare the syrup. Stir 3 cups of sugar and the vanilla in 2.25 cups water, bring to the boil and cook until syrup spins a long thread.
Remove the cake from the oven, chill and cut into diamonds When the cake is chilled (and not before – I made this mistake, and ended up with a tin which sparkled with a solid crystalline crust), pour warm syrup over and allow 2 hours for the cake to soak up the syrup. Serve cold
For more recipes from Kosovo, see my book, Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo, now available on Amazon