Knafe is a Middle Eastern Dessert. Learn the easy knafe recipe and ingredients; professional kitchen tips and ideas to make yours at home conveniently.
Have you ever had knafe before? If not, you’re missing out on one of the Middle East’s most traditional desserts! Knafe (also spelled knafeh or kanafeh) is an authentic dessert in many countries throughout the region, including Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan. It’s so popular that it often appears on the tables of families during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and ritual observance!
This article contains the following subheadings:
- Description: What it is, history, and facts.
- The Recipe: Detailed information on preparation and more.
Knafe is kind of like baklava but with an even more amazing flavor combination. Rather than layers of filo dough, knafe has layers of soft cheese and sugar syrup, which gives it an amazing texture that you’re going to want to try right away! Check out this guide to learn how to make the best knafe in the whole world at home tonight!
What is Knafe?
The word Knafe is derived from the Arabic word for cheese, Knefe. It is a popular dessert in the Middle East that consists of thin, crispy dough topped with a layer of thick, gooey cheese and baked until golden brown.
Traditionally, Knafe is served at special occasions such as weddings and Eid celebrations (the end of Ramadan). It is also eaten year-round as an afternoon snack with tea or coffee.
When most of us think of Middle Eastern desserts, we imagine baklava, basbousa and other assorted sweets made from nuts and honey or syrup. While all of those are delicious, knafe, also known as knafeh, kunafa or kanafeh depending on the country, is just as delectable and deserves your attention, too! It’s sweeter than most other Arab desserts thanks to its reliance on sugar rather than nuts and syrup; this makes it perfect for the hot summer months!
There are many variations of knafe throughout the Middle East including Lebanese, Syrian, and Egyptian variations. All versions have one thing in common: layers of dough coated with a generous amount of cheese.
If you’re looking to try something delicious that’s different from the typical American desserts, look no further than knafe, a Lebanese dessert with as many recipes as there are people who prepare it. But no matter how you make it, this dessert will be a treat you won’t soon forget!
Please note, there are three main types of Dough used to make knafe: Filo Pastry Dough, Wafer Crackers Dough, or Noodles Dough. The Cheese used can be either Cream Cheese, Ricotta Cheese, or Labaneh (a strained yogurt) depending on your desired taste and texture.
Now that you know what knafe is and what it’s made out of, how do you make it? Making this delicious dish requires four steps: mixing the ingredients together, forming the mixture into balls then stretching them out on a flat surface before baking them in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If done correctly this will yield perfect pieces of cheese layered between sheets of dough!
Knafe is one of the most popular desserts in the Middle East, particularly among Lebanese and Syrians. Its unique blend of cheese and crispy dough makes it, unlike any other dessert you’ll find, making it a must-try if you enjoy authentic Middle Eastern foods as much as we do! To get started on your own knafe recipe, check out these easy step-by-step instructions...
Ingredients needed for Knafe
For the knafe crust
- 1/2 kg vermicelli pastry (knafe dough or shredded Phylo dough)
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
- 1/2 cup of sugar
For the filling
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons orange blossom water (optional but recommended)
- 9 slices of white toast bread
For the syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
How to make Knafe step by step
Make the knafe crust
- Take the Phylo dough out of the freezer and set it in the fridge to thaw overnight the night before you plan to make Knafe.
- The next day, finely shred the Phyllo dough or pastry into smaller pieces in a bowl using a food processor.
- Drizzle with melted butter, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and toss the Phylo dough until it absorbs all of the butter.
- Separate the dough into two pieces.
- Spread the shredded dough evenly over the bottom of a skillet that has been gently buttered or oiled.
- Then, in the pan, press the knafe dough.
- Bake on the bottom rack of a preheated oven (200 C) until the bottom is golden brown (10-20 minutes)
- Place the knafe in the broiler until golden brown on top.
- Allow the knafe to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before taking it to a wire rack to cool further.
- Repeat with the remaining half of the dough (if you have two round pans of the same size you can bake them at the same time)
Make the knafe filling
- In a nonstick pot, combine the powdered milk, water, sugar, and cornstarch; mix or whisk until the milk and sugar are completely dissolved.
- Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens (10-15 minutes)
- Remove from the heat and mix in the orange blossom water.
- Remove the crusts off the bread slices and cube them.
- Add the cubes to the milk pot and stir until completely covered; set aside to cool.
- If you want the filling to be creamy, toss it in the food processor and pulse until fully smooth. If you prefer your filling to have more texture, leave it alone.
Make the syrup
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice; bring to a boil, then reduce to a low heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the syrup from the heat and add the orange blossom water.
Assembling the knafe
- On a serving plate, place one of the knafe crusts.
- Add the filling on top.
- Place the other knafe crust on top of the filling and gently press it down.
- Drizzle syrup over the top.
- Pistachios, candied cherries, or lemon blossom jam can be used to decorate.
- For a pleasant summer dessert, chill the knafe and serve cold with some syrup on the side for those who want their dessert a little sweeter.
This recipe feeds 8 people. To serve, place a flat serving dish on top of the pan and use both hands to flip it over. Maintain the pan upside down for a few minutes to keep the knafe in form. Then, gradually raise the pan to release the produced knafe.
The Kanafeh will be topped with shredded Phyllo dough. Half of the cooled sugar syrup should be poured over the knafe. Keep the remainder for serving with each piece. If using, sprinkle crushed pistachios on top of the kanafeh. Serve the leftover sugar syrup alongside each Knafe slice. Enjoy!
Recipe Video: How to make Knafe
Learn how to make knafe. This is a video on how to prepare your knafe.
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Have you ever tried knafe? If so, you know it’s the perfect treat to end any meal on the right note. But have you ever wondered what knafe is or how to make it? Knafe is a sweet and creamy Middle Eastern dessert made from layers of phyllo dough, cheese and butter soaked in syrup or honey that’s known for its flaky texture and sweet-and-savory taste. While there are many variations of knafe, this recipe focuses on traditional knafe filled with cheese only, but feel free to experiment with your own flavor combinations!