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Crispy Kunafa served on a round plate, garnished with pistachios.
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Kunafa

Crunchy shredded phyllo dough, stuffed with cheese and baked until golden. Drizzled with simple syrup and topped with pistachios - so good!
Course Dessert
Cuisine middle eastern
Diet Halal
Keyword Kunafa
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Equipment

  • Food Processor (optional)
  • Oven

Ingredients

For the Simple Syrup

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon rose water or orange blossom water optional
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice

For the Kunafa

  • 454 g Kataifi Dough (shredded phyllo dough)
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 600 g mozzarella cheese, high moisture at least 50%
  • 170 ml thick cream (see photos in post)
  • ½ cup crushed pistachios to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons dry rose petals for garnish optional

Instructions

For the simple syrup

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar and squeeze of lemon and place on high heat. Allow it to come to a boil
  • Once it boils, lower heat to medium and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes then turn off the heat. It should have a runny syrup consistency (not too thick). Add the tablespoon of rose water at the end if using, and allow it to cool to room temperature on the counter

For the Kunafa

  • Take out the frozen kataifi dough and leave it to thaw for an hour or so on the counter. Preheat oven to 350F
  • Shred the cheese or cut it up into small cubes, and mix it with the thick cream
  • Break up the kataifi dough and place it in a food processor. Whiz it for a few seconds until it is broken up into small pieces. If you don't own a food processor, you can do this with your hands or by cutting it up using a knife.
  • Place the shredded kataifi dough in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Using your hands, massage the butter into the dough making sure you saturate every strand. The better you incorporate it, the more evenly crispy it will be
  • Brush the bottom of your pan with a bit of butter. Use a 12 inch pan for one large one or you can make 2x 9 inch ones. (see notes)
  • Take half of the kataifi dough and pack it into the bottom of the pan using the flat bottom of a cup. Pack it to form a slight edge around the perimeter
  • Spoon the cheese mixture inside and spread it out evenly
  • Take the remaining kataifi dough and spread it over the cheese, covering it all and packing it in lightly
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the outside is deeply golden and crispy
  • Immediately drizzle the kunafa with about ¾ of the simple syrup, ensuring you cover the full surface. Reserve some syrup to the side for anyone who wants extra
  • Allow it to cool and soak the syrup for 10 minutes or so, then invert it onto a serving platter (you can also keep it in the tray), garnish with pistachios, cut into pieces and serve

Notes

  • This recipe can make 2x 9" kunafas or one larger 12" one. You can also make one 9" one and 6 mini kunafa using a muffin tin
  • Be sure to reserve some of the syrup and not use it all. Some people don't like it too sweet and the idea is that people can add more to their liking
  • Depending on your oven, if you start to notice that the top is browning too fast and the edges are still not golden, you can place a small piece of aluminium foil in the middle to cover it while the rest of it crisps up