Knafeh is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert. It's made with Kataifi (shredded phyllo dough), stuffed with sweet cheese, soaked in scented simple syrup and topped with crushed pistachio. There are different versions of this dessert across Turkey and Greece with different fillings or toppings. This dessert has a very crunchy exterior and it's gooey and cheesy in the middle. While Knafeh looks hard to make, it actually has a pretty straightforward process and the most challenging part might be finding the ingredients. All the ingredients in this recipe can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores such as Turkish or Iranian.
Kataifi dough can definitely be found in a frozen section of the shop. If, by any chance, you can't find the sweet cheese, you can replace it with mozzarella (make sure that it's not heavily salted). Knafeh is traditionally coloured with powder colour; I, on the other hand, used saffron.
You can store this dessert in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a couple of days and warm it up slightly in the microwave or oven before serving.
Knafeh 15 Steps
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl, combine ground saffron with 2 tablespoons boiling water and let it bloom (do this step if you're using saffron).
In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Let it boil for 2 minutes, take the pan off the heat and let it cool down. Add rosewater and orange blossom water (if using).
Chop the kataifi dough into small pieces with a knife or scissors (about 1/2 inch pieces).
In a large bowl, mix together the chopped kataifi, melted butter and saffron (if using). Mix until all the dough pieces are coated with butter.
Get a 9-inch pie pan or cake pan. Butter inside of the pan and make sure it is well coated.
Place 2/3 of the kataifi mixture into the baking dish and press it down firmly. Use bottom of a cup to press it evenly.
Slice the sweet cheese into thin slices and cover the kataifi on the pan. Leave about a 1-inch space from the side so that the cheese won't touch the side of the pan.
Cover the top with the remaining chopped kataifi. Use the same cup to press it down firmly again.
Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake it for 40-45 minutes or until the colour is golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Invert the knafeh onto your serving dish.
Pour 1/2 of the cooled syrup over the knafeh (pour up to 2/3 of it if you like it sweeter).
Decorate the top with crushed pistachios and dried rose petals (if using).
Serve knafeh warm with the remaining syrup on the side.