kanafeh | rose water soaked cheese pastry

How had I not tried this by now? Kanafeh (also spelt as kunafeh, kadayif and many other variations) is a sweet dessert from the Levant. It’s generally agreed to have originated in Palestine, but now many other countries have adapted the recipe by putting their own unique spin on it. The recipe I am presenting to you today is a fairly traditional method, just substituting one ingredient for something more globally available.

It’s the definition of a lavish dessert. Royally crowned with a ring of pistachios, crispy shredded filo pastry encases a melting, oozing, soft cheese. The whole thing is doused in a sugar syrup infused with floral tones while still hot, so every bite is a delicate indulgence.

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Look at that oozing cheese …

For a dessert of such luxury, kanafeh uses surprisingly few ingredients with very simple cooking. The pastry can be found at your local Middle Eastern or Turkish store – just ask for shredded filo pastry or kanafeh pastry – and likewise, the blossom waters can be found at any South Asian or Arabic store. Traditionally, a more regional soft cheese is used, but it’s harder to find and a lot saltier, meaning you will have to soak it before preparation. For this recipe it’s much easier to use a cheese like unsalted mozzarella, ricotta, or even a mixture of both.

Because of the “wow” factor of a succulent, gooey inside, it’s great to serve as a centrepiece dessert to guests at a dinner party so everyone can help themselves. Kanafeh can also be a casual treat for smaller families or even individuals; I choose to make two small kanafeh in shallow ramekins which was more than enough for a family of 2, but you could also make a larger one to share.

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Kanafeh

  • Servings: Two small 1 serving pastries, or one medium helf your self portion
  • Time: 1hr 10 mins
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

A real treat made from minimum ingredients.


Ingredients

  • 100g Tel Kadayef (Kanafeh pastry; may be called by different names)
  • 45g Mozzarella Cheese
  • 60g Ghee, or Butter

Sugar Syrup:

  • ¾ cup Water
  • ~100g Brown Sugar
  • 4 Cardamon Pods
  • 1 tsp Rose Water
  • 1 tsp Orange Blossom Water (optional)

Garnish:

  • 10 Pistachios
  • A few rose petals


Directions

  1. Preheat the oven.
  2. Prepare your cooking case[s] by greasing the bottom and sides. This means to rub butter or oil over so the pastry doesn’t stick.
  3. Over a bowl, use your hands to break the pastry into even smaller pieces. You can also use a food processor if desired.
  4. Melt the ghee (or butter if preferred) and pour it over the pastry. Mix until all of the pastry is coated in ghee.
  5. Take a liberal spoonful of pastry and spread it over the bottom of the case. Push it down using the spoon so it’s compacted. We want a thick layer, otherwise it won’t crisp up.
  6. Now shred the mozzarella into pieces and layer it over the pastry. The more the better.
  7. Add the remaining pastry over the top and again, press down. This layer should be thinner as it will become the bottom.
  8. Pop into the oven, covered, for about 40 minutes – 1 hr (check at 40, and then every 10 minutes after). While the kanafeh is cooking we can prepare the blossom syrup.

Brown Sugar Rose & Orange Syrup:

  1. Heat water over a stove on high heat and add the brown sugar.
  2. Crush open cardamon pods and add to the mix. Now rose water and orange blossom water if using, too.
  3. Stir until bubbling, and then lower the heat completely so it’s just hot. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat completely and pour the syrup (minus cardamon pods) into a jar to put in the fridge. Syrup must be cold for later.

Finishing:

  1. First, as this is a bit time consuming, de-shell and peel pistachios, then chop finely for our garnish.
  2. When the kanafeh have finished cooking, remove them from the oven and carefully invert them. I do this by first easing a knife around the sides to loosen it. Then I put my serving plate on top, and use an oven glove or tea towel to carefully turn the dish over.
  3. Ladel 3 tsp of sugar syrup onto the kadayef and allow it to soak. The rest of the syrup can be served to add later to your taste.
  4. You can now use the pistachio to garnish the kanafeh by sprinkling, or making a ‘crown’. I also added rose petals.

Best served hot for real ooze factor. Kanafeh can be stored in the fridge and then re-heated, but use common sense and caution.


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22 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a piece of art! too pretty to eat 😉 Your blog, recipes and pictures are simply stunning! Absolutely wowed! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mallika, thank you so much. You just made my day with your lovely words ❤ , it might be the kindest thing anyone has said! It might look too good to eat but once you smell you just can’t resist, I promise! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I believe that!❤ it must smell and taste divine😋 I meant every word! Keep up the fabulous work😘 x

        Like

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  3. Shreya says:

    Incredible. You are a great cook.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Shreya! That’s a huge compliment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. One of my favourite foods now!

      Like

  4. Hamdzinski says:

    Looks incredible !!! Thank you for sharing😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Please give it a try, it’s every bit as good as it looks 😍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hamdzinski says:

        I will 😊 please feel free to visit our blog 😊😊

        Like

        1. Great blog. Glad you found mine too! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Sandhya says:

    This is such a treat! I will try it soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so good! I’m sure you’ll enjoy when you try 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Simply wow! Wouldn’t mind one 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Danke schön! 🙂 Please give it a try, if you can source the ingredients.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That looks incredible! very nice work (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! It’s definitely a recipe everyone should try at least once.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Megala says:

    Wow! Delicious !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 😀 Megala. I literally couldn’t stop eating! I love the use of cheese in pastries especially.

      Liked by 1 person

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