Knafeh Sweet Cream Pastry

A flavorful holy land dessert that will have you wanting more.

Studio 5 Contributor, Becky Low, shares her take on a middle eastern dessert.
1 pound shredded phyllo dough*
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese**
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese**
¼-½ teaspoon orange/red food color paste or powder
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons orange blossom water***
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
Chopped pistachios, optional garnish

Thaw phyllo dough according to package directions (usually in refrigerator, 8 hours to overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together ricotta and mozzarella cheeses; set aside.

Place food color powder or paste in bottom of 10-inch cake pan (may use a 9×13 pan). Wearing plastic gloves use 1-tablespoon butter to evenly spread the food color and butter sides and bottom of pan; set aside.

Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan; bring to a gentle boil dissolving all sugar, simmer or genty boil 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and orange blossom water (orange oil***); continue to gently boil 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from heat; set aside to cool.

Unwrap phyllo and cut into 4-5 pieces; place in large bowl and separate shreds; toss with melted butter until evenly distributed. (Optional: place phyllo in large fry pan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes until phyllo begins to toast. This will create a crunchier texture.)

Press ⅔-prepared phyllo dough evenly in bottom and up the sides of prepared pan (as you would for a graham cracker crust).

Add cheese mixture and gently press evenly in bottom of pan. Cover cheese with remaining phyllo and press.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Loosen edges of pan; place serving plate on top and invert Kanafeh onto serving plate.

Garnish with optional chopped pistachios. Serve warm, drizzled with syrup.

Serves: 12-16


* Shredded Phyllo: usually found in frozen food section of the grocery store – easiest place to find is in Greek or Middle Eastern markets. (called Kaitifi)

** Cheeses: Any lower salt cheese will work. Mozzarella and ricotta are common. May use all ricotta or all mozzarella (I like the combination); part cream cheese may also be added.

*** Orange Blossom water or Rose Water: common flavorings in Middle Eastern cuisine and may be purchased in Middle Eastern markets. Substitute ¼-teaspoon orange oil, or leave it out.

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