Kanafeh is the richest and creamiest; it is a sweet and cheesy delicacy. Just when it seems it could not be better, it is topped with a crunchy topping and soaked in sweet syrup. It is totally seductive! It is delicious! There is no other desert that seduces the Middle East like Kanafeh. You will find it in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Greece, and Egypt. So many countries can’t be wrong. Kanafeh is the best dairy desert in the Middle East.
So many spellings, but the same luxurious desert. In one place it may be spelled Kanafeh, or Kunefe. Yet in another it is Kadayif or Konafeh. And just when you are sure there can be no more, you will see Konafah, Knafah, Kunafeh, Kanafeh and Knafe. So many spellings for the same special desert. It is amazing! It is scrumptious! It is Kanafeh!
You can not visit any part of this region without falling in love with this desert. This is a recipe easily made at home.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 1 hr
- Yield: 1 tray
“You can’t go to Palestine and not eat knafeh every night! Very delicious dessert that is easy to make :) A Syrian sweet cheese is normally used with this, some people use ricotta cheese but it changes the taste and consistency of this dish, but it can be used. I make my own cheese and do not add salt to it so I can use it with this recipe, but store-bought sweet cheese works just fine :)”
- 1 lb shredded phyllo dough ( knafeh dough) [**Can be found in the Kosher section of most large markets and in Kosher Jewish stores and delicatessens. ]
- 2 lbs sweet cheese
- 1 -1 1/2 cup rendered butter [** Also called Ghee and can be bought in most major markets and International Markets. ]
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water [** I make this and can when the Orange tree. blossoms. ]
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon knafeh food coloring [** I usually use regular food color.]
- 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
- 2 cups thin syrup ( attar) [** I make a standard thin syrup with equal parts water and sugar. ]
- Mix cheese, sugar, and orange blossom water together.
- Chop knafeh dough with a sharp knife. Mix with 1 3/4 cups hot butter over low fire for 15 minutes, or until dough absorbs all the butter.
- Mix 1/4 cup butter, knafeh coloring, and spread in a 17×12 inch pan. Sprinkle pine nuts evenly.
- Spread 2/3 of the dough in the pan over the nuts and press well. Spread the cheese mixture over dough evenly. Cover with the rest of the dough and press well.
- Bake at 400 degrees in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. (Place on lower rack).
- Add thin attar. Flip the tray over in another tray of the same size. Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Garnish with pistachios and serve hot!
** My notes
Pictures of different types and styles of Kanafeh: https://www.pinterest.com/recipes/knafeh-pastry/
This is a rather standard recipe and can be made with little effort. Once you have tasted this awesome desert, you will just have to have it. Make it in the kitchen or take a trip to the Middle East for the “real thing.” You can literally eat your way through the Middle East. Traveling throughout the Middle East is a food adventure in the making. Make this the year you taste the real Middle Eastern Kanafeh.