This is the follow up post following my Chicken Shawarma Recipe from Monday. This Kunufe/Kunafa/Knafeh is the true dinner TOPPER with its roots in the Middle East. Think of this dessert loosely as the Middle East version of a cheese danish. The dessert is finished off by soaking it with a sweet syrup. Bottom line, this is a big WINNER. You will want to make this dessert and impress your friends and they do not have to know how easy it is to put together.
This Kunefe/Kunafa/Kanafeh is so good and so easy to make. Your friends will love it. It is surprising dessert because it is not like a traditional American dessert. We typically make cakes, cupcakes and yes, they are chocolate. This is basically a cheese dessert. The crust, like a pie, is a dough, phyllo dough. The phyllo dough is shredded dough and it is added to the Cuisinart to shred some more. Then the phyllo dough is mixed with melted butter. The melted butter helps the dough stay together. Half the phyllo dough is placed on the bottom of a baking dish. Press it down, and then, top with the shredded cheese. Finish, by topping it with the rest of the phyllo dough. It is baked in an oven, and as you can see, it gets such a great crisp on it. The true final touch is the sweet syrup that is drizzled on the dessert. If you think this dessert is not sweet enough for you, try it and you will change your mind for sure. I have the biggest sweet tooth and this was amazing. Have I expressed enough how much I liked this dish?
One final thought to share is that the best thing about this dessert was the culmination to a great evening. Food brings people together. Culture brings people together. When you put food, culture and friends together, you have the opportunity to have an amazing experience. This was a great night!
- 1/2 pound shredded phyllo (called: kataifi or kunefe)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
- 2 cups feta cheese, crumbled
- Pistachios for garnish
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- Break the pastry apart into a number of the strands.
- Pulse in the food processor. Put in a bowl and set aside.
- Melt the butter.
- Mix the butter into the pastry with your hands in a large bowl until coated.
- Press half of the phyllo dough into the bottom of a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
- Crumble the cheeses with your hands.
- Press it onto the top of the dough in the baking dish.
- Press the remaining dough onto the cheese and bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
- To make the orange blossom syrup, in a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve the dish warm covered in the orange blossom syrup. Garnish with the pistachios. Enjoy!
Phyllo dough shredded and the cheese crumbled.
The layering of the dessert.
The Kunefe/Kunafa/Kanafeh out of the oven, and then, plated.