Knafeh is a Palestinian dessert made of phyllo pastry filled with cream cheese and topped with a sweet syrup.
Akawi cheese is traditionally used to fill knafeh, this is a popular cheese in the Middle East with a consistency similar to mozzarella. The akawi is soaked in water before the dessert is made to remove its slightly salty flavor.
Origin & Cultural Significance
This dessert is believed to have originated in Nablus, a city in the West Bank of Palestine. It is often referred to as “knafeh Nabalsiyeh” in reference of the dish’s origin.
For many families, knafeh is enjoyed as a weekly treat for gatherings with extended relatives and neighbors. It is also served at special occasions, such as weddings.
- Phyllo dough - 1 lb
- Akawi Cheese (or mozzarella) - 2 lbs
- Butter - ½ cup
- Orange food coloring - 1 tbsp
- Water - 2 cups
- Sugar - 3 cups
- Rose water - 1 tbsp
- Orange blossom water - 2 tbsp
- Crushed pistachios - ½ cup
- Slice the akawi or mozzarella cheese and soak in a bowl of water for 60 minutes to remove the salt. Be sure to drain and dry the cheese after soaking.
- Shred the phyllo dough into tiny pieces, you can use a food processor to make this as fine as possible.
- Melt the butter in a bowl and allow to cool.
- Next, add the orange food coloring to the butter until it is bright orange.
- Pour the melted butter into the fine phyllo dough and rub the butter into the phyllo using your palms and fingers, until it is completely incorporated.
- Cover the bottom of a pan or cake tin with ⅓ of the dough and press it down flat.
- Press the cheese pieces down on top of the dough, distributing them evenly across the pan.
- Spread the rest of the dough on top, make sure that all of the cheese is totally covered.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, the cheese should be melted and the dough should be turning golden-brown.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup by adding the water and sugar to a large saucepan and heating over high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved fully.
- Add the rose and orange blossom water to the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Allow the syrup to heat for 5-10 minutes, until it is slightly thicker.
- Remove the syrup from the heat.
- Once the knafeh has cooked, take it out of the oven and transfer onto a serving plate.
- Generously drizzle the warm syrup evenly over the knafeh and sprinkle with crushed pistachio nuts to serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 585Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 1gSugar: 43gProtein: 17g