If you know me, you know my love for this dessert! You might see it spelled Koneffa, Kunafe, Knafeh, Kunafa. Doesn’t matter - it is delicious!
Koneffa is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert with many variations by region. Since my family is Egyptian, I grew up eating the Egyptian version. It has a walnut/almond filling rather than a cheese filling. When my family moved to Texas in high school, I was introduced to the Syrian version by family friends. I was immediately SOLD!
After learning how to make this version from my mom and her best friend, I started making it for my friends. The response was off the charts! It has become a staple at holiday parties and all throughout the year. I even made one as a thank you for a real estate referral.
This recipe is made with a shredded kataifi dough, which for ease I call shredded phyllo since people seem to be more familiar with phyllo dough. It’s filled with a sweet cheese concoction, baked until golden brown then topped with a homemade simple syrup. It comes out warm, sweet, ooey gooey, cheesy and with a crunch!. It hits all of the notes on your palate! Simply HEAVENLY!
If you are in Houston, the best place to go grocery shopping for this recipe is Phoenicia Specialty Foods.
You will want to use a deep round pan.
1 package Shredded Kataifi Dough (approxi 1 pound)
1 package Sweet Cheese (approx1 pound)
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter + 1 Tbsp.
8 oz carton of Heavy Whipping Cream
Simple Syrup - Homemade, of course.
You can make this simple syrup days in advance. You can also make a larger quantity and store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for months.
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp of lemon juice
Place sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice in a small pot.
Cover in the water.
Bring to a boil then simmer. Stir regularly to avoid burning any sugar on the bottom of the pan. You want to cook this for approximately 45 minutes until it has thickened.
To prepare the pan, melt a tbsp of butter. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan generously. You do NOT want you koneffa to stick.
Open up the package of Shredded Kataifi Dough and place in a large bowl.
Use scissors to cut up the dough into smaller pieces in a bowl and break apart the shredded dough with your fingers.
Melt 2 sticks of butter in the microwave.
Mix melted butter into the shredded phyllo (I use my hands), until coated evenly.
In another bowl, open the package of sweet cheese and crumble it up (again, I use my hands).
Massage in the heavy whipping cream until the cheese is moistened and coated but not liquidy or runny.
Place half of the shredded phyllo and butter mixture into the bottom of your pan. Press down with your hands to compact. Try to make sure you do not see any of the pan exposed.
Place the cheese and heavy whipping cream mixture over the first layer of shredded phyllo. Spread evenly. Leave about ¾ of inch rim.
Place the other half of the shredded phyllo on top. Once again, press down with your hands to compact.
Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. You want the top to be golden brown and the cheese to be bubbling.
Remove from oven. Place a serving platter over the pan and hold together. Quickly flip the koneffa over onto the serving platter.
Drizzle with simple syrup and serve immediately while it is still hot! Garnish with unsalted pistachios if you’d like before serving.
We showed you ours, now it's your turn to show us yours! We would love to see your creations, tag us on Instagram! #simplymarwah