Kunafa has been one of my favorite desserts ever since I tried it in Saudi Arabia. it’s a crunchy, syrup drenched pastry that is filled with either cheese or cream and is topped with chopped nuts. Kunafa originates from the ottoman empire and has different variations all over the world. There are essentially 3 major components which make up a kunafa
- Kunefa dough. This dough is actually shredded phyllo pastry; it looks like thin strands of string. It is also known as kataifi pastry and can be found is most Arabic, Greek or Turkish stores. Here in Dubai I have used the brand called sunboulah and I was really happy with the outcome of my kunafa using this pastry. Alternatively, I have seen people using vermicelli however I haven’t tried this method. If you do use vermicelli I do suggest softening it first, by cooking it slightly before you bake the kunefa
- The filling. Fillings range from as simple as sweet cream and stringy cheese to more modern types such as Nutella and lotus biscoff spread. often mozzarella or paneer cheese is used in the center.
- The syrup- a simple sugar syrup is poured over the kunafa just as it comes out of the oven. This syrup is made of 1-part sugar and 2 parts water and is ready when all the sugar crystals have dissolved and the syrup starts to thicken.
To be very honest the very thought of making this dessert was terrifying for me. It took me a while to finally try it and I am so glad that I did! I was amazed at how simple it is, the process is time consuming so make sure you plan ahead.
- 500g kunafa dough
- 200 g melted butter
for the sweet cream
- 3 cups fresh cream
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp rose water
- 2 tbsp. corn flour
- 1 cup water
- 2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- start with the cream first, add all the ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil,
- thereafter dissolve the corn flour in a little bit of water and then add to the cream.
- Allow the mixture to thicken then set aside to cool. Preferably in the fridge
- Prepare the sugar syrup next, the syrup is ready when the sugar crystals are completely dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool.
- break apart the kunafa pastry, pull apart the shredded pieces of pastry and loosen it up. (the pastry should be separated as much as possible into individual strands)
- Break the pastry into smaller pieces, similar to how you would tear up a piece of paper.
- Thereafter pour in the melted butter and work it through the pastry making sure to coat all the pastry.
- Lightly grease a medium size pan and begin to fill it with a layer of pastry. Make sure to fill in all the spaces. the pastry should be about 1.5 to 2cm cm thick. Gently pat it down
- Then spread the cream in the center leaving a little space around the edges. This layer should be about 1 to 2cm thick
- Cover with another layer of kunefa pastry same as the first and lightly press down on the pastry
- Bake in the oven on the bottom rack at 200 deg Celsius. Until the edges turn golden brown in color
- Thereafter move to the top rack for another 5 to 10 mins. Until golden brown on top.
- Remove from the oven and turn over, (upside down).
- Immediately drizzle with the syrup, the syrup must be cold and the kunafa must be hot.
- Garnish with chopped pistachio nuts
- Set aside to cool, chill and then serve.
I will be posting a how to video on Instagram to make it easier to follow. The following key points are important for you to achieve a great Kunafa.
- The Syrup MUST be cool when pouring over the HOT kunafa, this will allow for the syrup to seep through the pastry effectively and prevent crystallization of the sugar or pooling of the syrup also you dont have to use all the syrup! I used half the amount as i dont like it too sweet.
- Make sure not to over bake your kunafa, the pastry should be golden in color.
- The cream must be thick in order for it to remain stable throughout the baking process.
- I have found that the kunafa tastes the best when served an hour or more after it comes out from the oven. If you serve it too soon, its too soft and too sweet due to all the sugar syrup.
- Instead of preparing 1 big kunafa, I made 2 smaller ones instead. I used a 22cm pan and a 25 cm cheesecake pan, I sealed and kept one kunafa in the fridge to bake for the next day and it was perfectly fine.
- To turn your kunafa over, place your serving plate on the top of the pan and with a swift motion turn it over.
- The addition of butter to the pastry is the key to the golden color when baking! So make sure to coat evenly
I have tried to include every bit of information that I have in order to make the process of this dessert as quick and easy as possible! However, if you seem to hit any bumps along the way, feel free to email me on info@rsrcreations and I will try and help you along.
I hope you all enjoy this recipe and if you try it, do tag me in your pictures on Instagram or email them to me, I would love to see how your kunafa turns out!
Ramadhan Kareem ya’ll