What is Knafeh AKA Kunafa, Konafa
Knafeh is a Middle Eastern dessert known for the infamous cheese pull (check out the video below). Its made with a thin noodle like pastry and a sugar syrup, layered with cheese. You may be thinking knafeh must taste weird because of the cheese and sugar syrup being together but there is actually a delicious balance, so it is definitely worth trying!
Knafeh can be found with many variants and flavours. Knafeh is also know as Kunafa and is extremely popular in Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon & the U.A.E. If you have travelled to any of these places I’m sure you will be filled with fond memories of this delicious dessert. If you are yet to try it, you are in for a treat. Do make sure to try it if you visit one of the countries. Whether you’ve had it before or you’re missing your holiday delights, you can now make the delicious Knafeh and satisfy your craving with this yummy Ricotta Cheese Knafeh Recipe. Do let us know in the comments if you try this recipe and tag us in your posts.
The Infamous Knafeh Cheese Pull
One of our favourite things to do when we get a fresh Knafeh is see how much of a cheese pull we can get and hey if it doesn’t happen on Instagram did it even happen? So get that shot and tag us so we can check out how cheesy your Knafeh is. One of our best Knafeh cheese pulls was in the delicious Konak Leicester. I was too close to show you how high the cheese pulled but believe me it was very very cheesy!! As I write this I’m craving Knafeh and need to make this soon or visit Turkey again or maybe stick to Leicester at the moment.
RICOTTA CHEESE KNAFEH
- 12"/ 30cm round cake pan
Scented Sugar Syrup
- 2 cups (400g) Granulated sugar
- 1 cup Water
- 1 teaspoon A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 Cinnamon Stick (Optional)
- 2 Cardamon Pods, Smashed open (Optional)
- 500 Grams Creamy ricotta cheese
Use good quality ricotta
- 1/4 Cup (60g) Clotted cream/mascarpone cream
- 1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
(optional - omit if you prefer a tangier cheese filling)
The Scented Sugar Syrup
- In a medium saucepan, combine together the sugar, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on a stovetop over high heat. Try to avoid stirring it as it heats to prevent crystallization from happening, but if the sugar is not dissolving, then help it out with a few stirs. Once it comes to a boil, STOP stirring.
- Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low, add in the half cinnamon stick and cardamom pods (if using), and let it simmer gently for 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken slightly to a consistency similar to hot maple syrup. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Remove from heat. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup or gravy boat and allow to cool to room temperature before using. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods for a subtle scent or keep in for a stronger one (I prefer a subtle one here).
The Cheese Filling
- In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, sugar (if using), cream and vanilla. Set aside.
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 200C/ 390F.
- Generously grease a 12"/ 30cm round cake pan with ghee or butter. (This can also be made in a muffin pan)
- Over a large bowl, shred the kunafa dough into 1inch/ 2.5cm long pieces. Cutting the kunafa while semi frozen, makes for the easiest way to break it. So even if using fresh kunafa, put it in the freezer for about an hour before cutting it. Just be sure to bring it back to room temperature before adding in the ghee/butter.
- Pour the melted ghee/butter evenly over the kunafa and mix evenly with your hands, into the kunafa shreds, making sure that each strand is well-coated.
- Transfer two-thirds the amount of kunafa into the prepared pan and evenly spread it onto the bottom and up the sides. Make a wall with the kunafa around the sides of the pan; this will help contain the filling during the baking process and prevent it from burning. Use the flat-bottom of a cup to compress the kunafa as tightly as you can.
- Spoon the cheese filling over the kunafa and gently spread into an even layer.
- Scatter the remaining third of the kunafa over the cheese filling, and lightly press on it to tidy it up and get it nice and level.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top and sides of the kunafa are deep golden brown in color. Use a knife to push the side of the konafa, to check the color. The longer it bakes, the crunchier it gets.
- Remove the kunafa from the oven and immediately pour on the scented syrup, starting from the edge and moving towards the center, in a circular motion, making sure to cover the entire surface.
- Let the konafa rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow for the syrup to soak in, then flip on to a serving platter. Garnish the surface with pistachios and dried rose petals, if you like.
- Cut into wedges and serve hot or at warm room temperature. Kunafa is best enjoyed warm, and on the same day it's baked. Leftovers maybe stored in the refrigerator, then rewarmed in the oven or microwave.
Thank you to @Patisl for submitting this lovely recipe!
Do tag us @halalfoodgastro if you try out this recipe and let us know how it goes. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work out or look exactly like the picture, I’m sure it will taste great. Plus, practice makes perfect and we’re only human! Enjoy the process and impress your friends and family with this delicious Knafeh.
Let us know in the comments what kind of recipes you would like to see.