Sweet and incredibly delicious, our cheese Knafeh pronounced (ka-nee-fah) is a family favorite. Made with shredded phyllo dough, ricotta, and mozzarella to create a fascinating dessert swimming in orange-blossom syrup and crushed pistachios.
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It’s that time of year when mealtimes are more relaxed, fresh salads take center stage, and you need a show-stopping dessert that will mesmerize your guests into thinking that you really were in the kitchen all day. Enter, knafeh!
Knafeh is a popular Middle Eastern dairy dessert that is a rich, filling golden-pie indulgence that will put other Memorial Day BBQ and Shavuot desserts to shame.
How to make Knafeh
Knafeh is made by sandwiching simple dairy ingredients (ricotta and mozzarella cheese) between two layers of kataifi (ka-tee-fee), the shredded phyllo dough sheets that are often used in some types of baklava and are found in the frozen food sections of larger supermarkets, gourmet stores, and Middle Eastern and Greek grocers. We like to use the Athens and Apollo brands. Make sure you thaw Kataifi in the refrigerator before using it.
Knafeh is so easy to prepare, just check out these step by step images
We grind the kataifi in the food processor, then mix it well with butter so that it is pliable and can be pressed into a round cake pan. We then add in ricotta cheese, sugar and shredded muenster or mozzarella cheese. We use the remaining kataifi to add a top layer to the cheese filling, then bake until golden brown.
Once in the oven, we prepare a 10-minute Orange Blossom Syrup using sugar, water, lemon and orange blossom water (also available at gourmet shops and Middle Eastern grocers). The Orange Blossom Syrup gives this dessert some floral note, but you can skip it and just use the lemon juice. Pour the syrup on top of the Knafeh as soon as it comes out of the oven. Once cool, garnish it with crushed pistachios.
Serve the Knafeh hot so that each golden-brown piece features deliciously melted strings of cheese, sweet syrup, and pistachios. You may want to try some of our other Middle Eastern inspired desserts to serve alongside the Knafeh as well like our Vegan Halvah Bars, Fig and Tahini Truffle Tarts, or our Pomegranate Tahini Cupcakes. Add a pot of coffee (try exotic Turkish coffee!)and a large bowl of mandarin oranges and your guests will compliment you for days.
Other Middle Eastern Desserts You Must Try
- Halvah Bars
- Sfuff (turmeric cake)
- Montecaos ( cinnamon cookies)
- Rose Water Almond Milk Pudding
- Halvah Stuffed Dates Dipped in Chocolate
- Semolina Borekas with Orange Blossom Syrup
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Sweet and incredibly delicious, our cheese Knafeh (ka-nee-fah) is a family favorite. Made with shredded phyllo dough, ricotta, and mozzarella to create a fascinating dessert swimming in orange-blossom syrup and crushed pistachios
For the crust
1/2 pack Kataifi (about 8oz), thawed in the refrigerator (see note 1)
6 tbsp butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
For the Filling:
2 cups Natural and Kosher Whole Milk Ricotta ( see note 2)
1/3 cup sugar
For the Syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 or 2 tsp orange blossom water ( to taste) (see note 3)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
To make the Knafeh crust:
- Place the kataifi threads in the food processor and pulse until they're broken into approximately 1" long pieces. Place them in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over it. Mix well to coat
To Make the filling:
- Place the ricotta and sugar in the food processor and process for 1-2 minutes until smooth and creamy
To assemble the Knafeh
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Generously grease a 9.5" round cake pan with melted butter
- Coat the bottom of the pan with half of the buttered kataifi shreds, and press down using a glass
- Spread the ricotta and sugar mixture and add the shredded cheeses on top. Place the rest of the buttered kataifi shreds on top, and gently press down. Bake for 40 minutes.
- While the Knafeh is baking, prepare the orange blossom syrup. Combine the sugar and water, orange blossom and lemon juice in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Set aside
- Pour the orange blossom syrup on the Knafeh as soon as it comes out of the oven (you can also leave it aside for each person to pour their own. Serve warm (see note 4)
- Kataifi is shredded filo dough than can be found online or in Middle Eastern and Greek specialty stores. As with phyllo dough, kataifi should the thawed in the refrigerator. Refreeze unused Kataifi.
- We found Natural and Kosher's ricotta cheese to be specially smooth and creamy and it taste amazing!
- If you cannot find or don't have orange blossom water, simply don't add it to the Kanafeh. It will still be delicious
- To reheat the Knafeh, place it in a 250F oven for about 10 minutes or until warm inside
- To make ahead: Knafeh can be made 2-3 days ahead and then baked. It can also be frozen unbaked, thawed and baked.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 319
- Sugar: 17
- Sodium: 240
- Fat: 17
- Saturated Fat: 10
- Unsaturated Fat: 6
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 31
- Fiber: .4
- Protein: 10
- Cholesterol: 52