GOLDEN CRUST, SOFT WHITE CHEESE AND FRAGRANT ORANGE BLOSSOM SYRUP; KNAFEH, LEBANON
Kataifi Shredded Pastry Dough – 1/2 pound
Sweet Cheese – 1/2 pound
Ackawi Cheese – 1/2 pound
Ricotta Cheese – 3/4 pound
Unsalted Butter – 1 stick
Water – 1 cup
Sugar – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Lemon Juice – 3 tablespoons
Orange Blossom Water – 1 tablespoon
Knafeh – During glorious times of the Phoenician and Ottoman Empires, cultures intertwined and culinary traditions developed. In the Middle Eastern countries of Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Turkey, Knafeh dessert symbolizes each country’s unique culinary traditions. The featured Knafeh recipe consists of shredded dough and layered multiple types of cheeses that are baked until light golden crust develops. The orange blossom water combined with sugar creates a fragrant syrup, adding extra flavor and moisture. The selected Kontos brand of Kataifi pastry dough has soft texture. The traditional Middle Eastern Ackawi Cheese reflects a popular cow’s milk cheese with mild salty flavor that complements the Sweet Cheese’s light sweet flavor. The soft textured Ricotta Cheese is an Italian whey cheese created with the milk liquid retained during the cheese making process. During our visit to Lebanon number of years ago, we sampled a traditional Lebanese breakfast of Knafeh served inside a freshly baked sesame bread (Lebanese Kaak Bread). Knafeh presents a wonderful simplicity of colors, fragrances and sweetness. In the Middle East, the simple dessert of Knafeh erases cultural boundaries as patrons gather during a breakfast time to this delicacy freshly baked in the old traditional ovens.
Step 1 – Use the mixer to shred the Kataifi pastry dough into smaller pieces. Place the shredded dough and soft butter into mixing bowl and evenly spread the butter into the dough until the texture is smooth.
Step 2 – Use the mixer to chop the Sweet cheese and Ackawi cheese into small pieces.
Step 3 – Place two thirds of the dough into a buttered baking dish and press it down. Layer the cheeses on top of the dough as follows: Sweet cheese, Ackawi cheese and lastly Ricotta cheese. Press down after each layer. Place the remaining one third of the dough on top.
Step 4 – Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the Knafeh for 45 minutes. Change the oven setting to broil for the last few minutes until a golden color crust develops.
Step 5 – In a small cooking pot bring the water to boil, add the sugar and cook for several minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange blossom water and lemon juice for a unique flavor.
Step 6 – Invert the baked Knafeh upside down, cut into individual slices and serve with syrup on top or on the side. Enjoy the wonderful aromas and flavors!