I know, I know it’s been a while. Sorry guys and gals.
Summer is the busiest time of year at my job, so I’m finally starting to catch up. If you’re lucky enough to follow my insta, @food_hopping, you’ll see that I’m still cooking and taking photos each week, just behind on blog posts. Insta-stories are too easy.
Back in May, my friend Rima invited me over to her apartment to make a Syrian dessert. She sent me a list of ingredients, and I met her at her place, completely unaware of what she had planned.
Kunafeh or Kunafa is a middle-eastern dessert made with shredded fillo dough, cheese, and a sweet, sugar syrup. It’s super simple to make, rich, and tastes like home for many Arabs. Below is her dad’s recipe, here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients: serves 12-20
1 16oz Pack Shredded Fillo Dough
16oz Ricotta Cheese (You can substitute unsalted haloumi, but it’s quite expensive)
2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Blossom Water or Rose Water to taste
Step One: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large baking dish (around 9″x13″) with butter. You’ll need a dish with some depth, a cookie sheet will be too thin.
Step Two: Open up your fillo dough and divide the strands into two equal parts. If it feels weird, it’s probably because you’ve never done this before.
Step Three: Place one half of the dough into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing down firmly to pack it down. I would recommend using a small cutting board or coaster to flatten it.
Step Four: Spread the ricotta cheese on top of the dough with a spoon or spatula, spreading it in an even layer without getting too close to the edges. We’re going to seal it in, so leave at least a half inch around the edges.
Step Five: Place the remaining dough on top of the ricotta, again pressing down hard with a small cutting board or coaster to flatten and remove any air pockets.
Step Six: Cut the sticks of butter into about a Tablespoon or thinner slices and arrange them evenly on top of the dough.
Step Seven: Bake it for 40 minutes until beautifully browned.
Step Eight: Moving quickly, carefully remove the pan from the oven and flip the entire fillo-ricotta sandwich upside down. It will be extremely hot, so be careful! Once flipped, place it back in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the entire thing is golden brown and crisp.
Step Nine: While it’s baking, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan while constantly stirring. When it starts to thicken, add the lemon juice and orange blossom or rose water to combine. Once it’s a slightly syrupy texture, remove it from the heat. It should still be pretty viscous and not too thick.
Step Ten: When the baked fillo is completely golden brown, remove it from the oven and pour the syrup over the entire thing. Then admire your creation as the dough eats up that sweet, sweet syrup.
Step Eleven: Let it cool for five minutes, slice, and serve!