There are so many different speling for this sweet confections from Middle East. I first tasted this delicious treat at the Arab village in Jerusalem. I forgot the name of the store, but it said to be best one in Jerusalem. The Kunafe was really sweet, the cheese filling was somewhat a melty, smooth, and almost like a melt fresh mozarella in it. Gosh, it's so hard to describe this, unless if you ever eaten one. Can you believe that this is actually eaten for breakfast? Imagine how sweet life can be if every morning you have breakfast like this, right?
I wanted to make Kanafeh/Knāfeh/Künefe/Kunafa so badly, I consult Arlette and also did some research on the internet. It's funny to found out that none of my Middle Eastern cookbook has this recipe, except one, my Turkish cookbook. But, the recipe wasn't convincing enough, and the directions was a bit confusing. So I decided to do my first trial, using my own imagination, which turned out to be a disaster and unpalatable. Then, the second trial was, I must say I was quite happy with, my family like it, although it was absolutely different taste then the one I've tasted in Israel.
I know there are plenty of variation of Kanafeh/Knāfeh/Künefe/Kunafa depending on which country they are come from. One thing for sure, they all use the same type of pastry which is shredded phyllo dough (Kataifi pastry?). This pastry becoming more and more available here in the US. So, it would not be to challenging to find. Although the type of cheese required for this recipe might not be readily available in your local grocery store, they can be purchase online here. Some of the recipe I found called for Naboulsi cheese, and some using combination of Akkawi and Mozarella. I couldn't really find both cheese in my local grocery store, and I couldn't wait any longer for my second trial, so when I found another recipe using combination of mozarella and ricotta, I right away made it. I'll be making it again using the Naboulsi cheese, and will post the result.
I also like this video on how to make kunafe, it's in Arabic, but there is subtitle in English. In the meantime (while you are busy looking and waiting for that and this cheese), why not make this version?
Recipe adapted from dedemed
1 package shredded phyllo pastry, thaw according to package direction (you will only use half of this)
½ cup milk
3 tbs semolina flour
3 tbs semolina flour
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded fresh mozarella cheese (about 2 large balls)
2 cups Rose syrup, recipe follows
Update: the mozarella I used was the fresh buffalo mozarella (it's soft), I am not sure how the end result going to be if you are using the regular mozarella which is firmer.
- Preheat oven to 375⁰F. Butter a 11-inch cake tin, set aside.
- Heat the milk until almost to come to a boil, add semolina flour, mix until the mixture is thicken. Mix mozarella and the ricotta in a large bowl, transfer the milk mixture to ricotta-mozarella mixture. Mix well. Set aside.
- Using your hand, crumble the pastry and separate the strands, then mix it with melted butter until evenly distributed. Take half of the pastry, and transfer it into prepared cake tin. Spread out evenly, then press it firmly. Add all of the cheese mixture, distribute it evenly, cover with the rest of the pastry, gently press against the cheese, make sure to cover the cheese completely. Bake in the middle rack for 45 minutes, until the pastry look nicely golden brown. Let the pastry rest for 5 minutes before invert it to a serving plate. Pour the cooled syrup on top, and serve with chopped pistachios if desire.
Boil gently 2 cups of sugar and 1½ cups of water until slightly sirupy. Add 1 tablespoon rose water. Mix, and transfer to a bowl, cool at room temperature.