Kunafa Recipe

Kunafa Recipe

Kunafa Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes


700 g akkawi cheese (or substitute 500 g ricotta)

200 g mozzarella (if using ricotta, use 400 g mozzarella)

1 package (500 g) frozen kunafe pastry (thawed one hour on the counter)

1½ cups butter to make slightly more than 1 cup clarified butter, melted and hot

4 Tablespoons sugar

3 Tablespoons orange blossom water

4-8 drops orange food coloring (powder, paste or drops)

3 cups rose-scented simple syrup

½ cup ground groundnut, to decorate 

The recipe 

1. The day before, slice the akkawi and mozzarella cheese into thick slices . In a plastic vessel , cover with water to drench overnight in the icebox to desalt the cheese. Change the water many times the first day.

akkawi and mozzarella cheese

2. Also in advance, prepare the rose-scented simple syrup so it’s entirely chilled before the kunafe comes out of the oven.

3. About one hour before cooking, strip the kunafe pastry from the freezer to thaw on the counter. Make the clarified butter.

4. Prepare the pan—a 30 cm (12 inch) round pan or a 15-inch deep-dish pizza pan. Distribute 4 Tablespoons of the clarified butter in the pan. Add the orange coloring a little at a time. Using a pastry brush, Distribute the butter and the coloring evenly all over the pan and up the sides.

prepare the rose-scented simple syrup

prepare the rose-scented simple syrup

5. Preheat the oven to 350° F (190° C).

6. Prepare the kunafe pastry. Stripe from package and cut into four portions . In a food processor, gently crush one quarter of the thawed pastry at a time with a few pulses keeping it rough .

Prepare the kunafe pastry

7. Put pastry in a huge bowl and gradually pour the remaining hot clarified butter over top. Use the full amount of butter or the pastry will be dry or stick to the pan. Using your fingers, blend in the butter to evenly coat the strands of pastry.
Prepare the kunafe pastry

8. Drain the desalted cheese and pat dry with a dish towel. Grate cheeses into a huge bowl. (If using ricotta, no need to grate.) Splash the sugar and orange blossom water over the cheeses and gently mix together.

9. Layer the pastry. For the bottom layer, sprinkle handfuls of the buttered pastry and press into the prepared pan going slightly up the sides. Use approximately half the pastry mixture or a bit more to entirely cover the pan. (This will be the top when the pastry is flipped.)
Kunafa Recipe

10. Add the cheese filling, distributing the cheese evenly and pressing to cover entirely .

Kunafa Recipe

11. Cover with the remaining layer of pastry, evening it out and pressing gently.

Kunafa Recipe

12. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until pastry becomes crisp and slightly golden.

13. Stripe pastry from oven and grant it a gentle shake. The kunafe will detach from the sides of the pan. If not, separate with a butter knife. The moment of truth: invert the hot kunafe onto a serving platter. As you flip it over, say bismillah (In the name of God).

14. The orange pastry should be slightly crisp. Pour the cold simple syrup over the hot pastry until the kunafe is saturated and glistening. Reserve the remaining syrup to serve in a small pitcher on the side.

Kunafa Recipe

15. Cut the kunafe into squares or diamonds, 2 inch x 2 inch or larger. Decorate with groundnuts and serve while still hot. Leftovers can be saved for up to four days in the icebox and warmed up in the oven or microwave.

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