Couple of my friends took me to a Turkish restaurant for my birthday this year. They ordered this crispy, flaky and sweet pastry and we were served a bubbling hot dessert that I used as a cake to blow the candle. The candle almost melted in the hot dessert. I was sold the minute I had my first bite — it was sweet, crunchy, creamy and absolutely delicious. I heard the name of the dish but it hardly registered in my brain because I was busy eating it.
Then I saw Usha’s post for Knafeh and then I realized that it can be made at home. So it had to become part of my Turkish meal. This dessert is very easy to put together, if you have all the ingredients ready.
I bought the shredded phyllo pastry from the Turkish grocery. Traditionally a white semi soft cheese called Ulfa peynir is used in the filling, but since I couldn’t lay my hands on it, I used a combination of ricotta & mozzarella cheeses. The sugar syrup can be made while the kunafes are baking. Syrup is the only element that gives sweetness to the dessert, so be generous with it. All in all a rich and decadent dessert that can be made with minimum efforts. My cheese turned a little darker than I expected, but taste was not compromised in any way.
Turkish Kanefe/ Knafeh
- half of 1 lb package Phyllo Knafeh pastry/ Shredded dough
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 tbsps Pistachios - finely chopped
For the Cheese Filling:
- 1 cup Ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup Mozzarella cheese - grated
For the Sugar Syrup:
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
- ½ cup Water
- 2 tsps Rosewater
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Prepare the Pastry: Shred the phyllo dough into smaller pieces. I used my kitchen scissors to do it, but a quick whirl in the food processor will help too.
- Take the shredded pastry in a mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well to nicely coat everything with butter.
- To make the Filling: Combine ricotta cheese and grated mozzarella in a small mixing bowl.
- To Assemble: I used 4 mini tart pans, but a square baking dish will work great here. Divide the pastry on the bottom of the baking pans. Next divide the filling evenly on top of the pastry. Finally add the remaining pastry on top of the filling and press lightly.
- Bake in the oven for 40~45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Make the Sugar Syrup: While the kunafehs are baking in the oven, make the syrup, Combine water, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5~7 minutes or until the syrup turns thick. Stir in rosewater and set aside until ready to use.
- Remove from the oven, cool for 5~10 minutes. Pour the syrup making sure to cover all the nooks and crannies. Cool for few minutes before inverting them onto serving plate. Garnish with chopped pistachios and serve.