Cheese Kanafeh: A Delight You Don’t Want to Miss!
Cheese Kanafeh is a succulent cheese-creamy dessert with softly crunchy golden layers. It is much loved and deemed as a guest-honoring pastry when receiving.
Consumed hot or warm, it makes also an ideal fulfilling breakfast when placed inside a soft sesame Kaak.
The Kanafeh comes in two versions: filled with cheese or with Ashta Cream, the latter being mostly a Northern recipe and must be eaten fresh. Unlike the Cheese Kanafeh, it cannot be re-warmed.
Cheese Kanafeh is another of our rich ethnic pastry that is made of semolina dough. In recent years, it has seen various homemade variations with households eager to adapt the original recipe to their kitchen. Hence, slight variations in the taste and the presentation have occurred, not in a negative way.
In fact, the intake of calories has lowered due to two main changes in the homemade recipes: Butter is being used instead of Ghee, and the syrup has less sugar.
Adding to that, we now soak the Kanafeh with half the quantity of the syrup, and leave the other half for the serving time, which gives the eater the choice to sweeten more or less as desired.
I still caution on the excess of sugar-syrup upon serving if the intake of calories is of concern to you.
Cheese Kanafeh: A Shared Regional Cultural Dessert
Which brings the question of its real origin, and confirms my previous input on the hundreds of years of regional cultural exchanges.
A close version of this pastry exists also in the Greek Cuisine, and is called Kadaifi. With its various different regional spellings, we Lebanese call it Knefe, with a phonetic E at the start (pronounced Eknefeh).
I am thrilled to share with you this succulent dessert that I highly recommend you to try. You will be delighted!
With love, here comes the easiest recipe of the Lebanese Cheese Kanafeh!
This is the recipe for an 11 x 16″ baking pan that will yield up to 10 portions. This is the standard needed for the family or when receiving guests. I do not advise to lower the quantity of ingredients to yield less. You can serve as small and as big portions as it suits you.
Enjoy! Life is Good!
- 1 Kg Cheese (no salt) Baladi, Ackawi or Mozarella
- 500 gr Shredded Thin Filo Pastry Dough thawed
- 5 tbsps Butter (unsalted)
- 1 tbsp Orange-Blossom Water
- 1/2+ cup Pistachio Nuts crushed, to garnish
For the Syrup
- 3 cups Sugar
- 1 1/2 cup Water
- 1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 1/2 tsp Rosewater
- 3 tsps Orange-Blossom Water
Preparing the Cheese
Cut the cheese in pieces and soak them in cold water several times until all preservation salt wanes.
Remove, slice thinly, and gently pat them dry with a kitchen paper towel.
Preparing the Dough
Cut the filo pastry into rough pieces and shred them finely in a food processor. The result should be a texture of tiny grains.
In a large casserole, over low heat, mix the dough with 3 generous tablespoons of butter for about 10 minutes for the butter to melt and blend well. The dough should start homogenizing by now.
Stir in 1 tbsp of butter then 1 tbsp of orange blossom water.
Knead the warm dough with a wooden spoon for a good consistency, and set aside.
NOTE: Time to preheat the oven; at 180C (350F)
Preparing the Kanafeh
Butter the baking tray with about 2 tablespoons.
Spread a layer of pastry crumbs of not more than 1/2 inch layer.
Pat it down gently then press a rectangle tray on to ensure a uniform compact layer.
Cover the dough with the cheese in a uniform layer, at about 1/4″ from the edges.
Fill the borders' gaps with dough crumbs, pressing well with a spoon.
Cover the cheese with the remaining crumbs, and pat it into a uniform layer.
Your knafeh is now ready to go to the oven!
Baking the Kanafeh
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until toasting golden. (ref to the photo for the required color indication.)
While the Kanafeh bakes, prepare the syrup.
Making the Syrup
Mix sugar and water, and bring to a boil on high heat, stirring regularly.
Add lemon juice and stir.
Remove from heat, and stir in rosewater and orange blossom water.
Set aside and leave it to cool at room temperature.
Finalizing the Kanafeh
When the Kanafeh is done baking, remove it from the oven, and have it resting, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
If for some rare reason, the Kanafeh did not take the desired golden crispiness after the standard 45 minutes, you may go ahead and bake it for another 10 minutes.
Place a large serving dish, or a tray, on top of the baking tray, and flip it carefully.
Wait for a couple of minutes before lifting the tray.
Spoon generously half the syrup over the hot Kanafeh to soak it. Make sure all the pastry got its good share of syrup.
Garnish with the Pistachio nuts, covering all the surface.
Kanafeh is most delicious when consumed hot; meaning fresh from the oven. However, you can also eat it at room temperature.
Have the remaining syrup in a bowl handy upon serving for more sweetening if desired.
Spread the Love! Sharing is always appreciated 🙂