I love Middle Eastern cuisine and I get excited every time I am introduced to a new dish! The used ingredients are very similar to Greek ones and thus it is easy for us Greeks to make them. My aunt introduced me to Kanafe last week and I loved it! Even though it is a Syrian dessert she first tasted it when she visited Jordan and then tried to make it at home. It was a success! Last week when she came over to our house for dinner she suggested we make it together so that I learn the recipe. I would describe it as a very light, refreshing and balanced dessert perfect for those that love the use of cheese in desserts. The recipe is very simple. The only tricky part maybe is to find the ingredients and especially kataifi filo pastry in some countries.
1/2 kg kataifi filo pastry
250 g butter
600 gr anthotiro or ricotta cheese
100 gr mocarella
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
juice and zest from 1 lemon
2 cups of sugar
1 tbsp rose water
almonds and brown sugar
We preheat the oven at 200°
Place the kataifi in a baking tray and we pull the strands of pastry from each other and then break the kataifi strands in small pieces. We heat the butter on a low temperature so that it melts without letting it increase its temperature. In a round pan of 32cm we brush its bottom with the butter. We pour the rest of the butter on the kataifi pastry and let it soak evenly by stirring it with our hands.
We cover most of the bottom of the round pan with brown sugar and 70% of the area with almonds. Dividing the kataifi filo in half we place half of it in the pan and bake it in the oven for 15 minutes or until it is golden brown.
In the meantime we prepare the syrup by boiling the water, juice and lemon zest and sugar for about 15 minutes. The syrup has to be of a thick consistency. The trick to achieve that is to keep boiling it until boiling bubbles cover its surface. We let the syrup to cool and then add the rose water.
For the cheese mix we smash the different types of cheese. Adding the sugar we keep stirring until its consistent.
Removing half the pastry from the oven we cover it evenly with the cheese mix and then top it with the remaining pastry. We bake for another 15 minutes or until it is golden brown.
When it is ready and right after is out of the oven we pour half the syrup on the dessert. The cheese filling doesn’t let the syrup go to the bottom thus we then need to take a big plate and turn the dessert over. We pour the remaining half of the syrup on the other side of the dessert.
Our kanafe is ready to be served! We can decorate it either with almonds or with pistachios 🙂