The Arabic Sweet Turkish Kunafa Recipe (Knafeh) is the royal and most celebrated dessert in middle east. It is prepared by filling cheese, cream, fruits or chocolate and soaked in sugar syrup. It is called “The Queen of Arabic desserts” and makes a great dessert that you can serve after a traditional Mughlai or Middle Eastern Meal.
Turkish kunafa, also spelled as “künefe” or “knafeh,” is a delicious dessert that is popular in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s made with thin, shredded pastry dough soaked in syrup and layered with cheese or nuts, then baked until golden and crispy. The dessert is often served warm and can be accompanied by ice cream or clotted cream.
For the pastry:
- 1 package (16 oz) kunafa dough (also known as kataifi dough), thawed if frozen
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
- 2 cups ricotta cheese or unsalted akkawi cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water or rose water (optional)
- Chopped pistachios or almonds for garnish
For the syrup:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water or rose water
Prepare the Syrup: In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the syrup slightly thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the orange blossom water or rose water. Let the syrup cool while you prepare the kunafa.
Prepare the Filling: In a bowl, mix the ricotta or akkawi cheese, mozzarella cheese, sugar, and orange blossom water or rose water (if using) until well combined. Set aside.
Prepare the Pastry: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a baking pan with butter.
Take the kunafa dough and separate it into strands using your fingers, fluffing it up. Drizzle the melted butter over the dough and toss it gently to coat the strands with butter.
Assemble the Kunafa: Take half of the butter-coated kunafa and press it evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, creating a thin layer.
Spread the cheese filling evenly over the kunafa layer.
Top the filling with the remaining kunafa, again pressing it down gently to form an even layer.
Baking: Bake the kunafa in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.
Syrup and Serving: Once the kunafa is baked, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the cooled syrup evenly over the hot pastry. The syrup will sizzle and be absorbed by the kunafa.
Allow the kunafa to cool slightly before cutting it into squares or diamond shapes.
Garnish: Sprinkle chopped pistachios or almonds over the top of the kunafa for added flavor and texture.
Serve: Kunafa is traditionally served warm or at room temperature. It’s best enjoyed on the day it’s made.
Remember, kunafa can be quite sweet, so you can adjust the sugar levels in the filling and syrup according to your taste preferences. Enjoy your delicious homemade kunafa!