Knafeh for Home Bakers Challenge

Arabic Dessert,

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For the month of June, Nupur picked some Arabic desserts for the home bakers challenge. I chose to bake Knafeh. Knafeh is also known as knafe, kunafeh, knafah, konafah, konafeh in various Arabic countries.

Arabic Dessert, knafe, kunafeh, knafah, konafah, konafeh

It is a baked Arabic dessert made with sweetened ricotta cheese that has a thin noodles or vermicelli as a base. After baking the crusted ricotta, it is soaked in rose water flavored sugar syrup. The dessert was delicious! I took it to a party and everyone loved it. My pictures do not do justice to the dessert and the piece in picture is the last of the leftover dessert. When served hot or at room temperature, knafeh is soaked in sugar syrup. The piece in the picture was refrigerated for almost 3 days and the syrup solidified. I made the full recipe and it was lot for Knafeh. I used part skim ricotta and light cream instead of whole milk ricotta and heavy whipping cream.

Knafeh 2

Source: Green Prophet
Total Time: 1 ½ hours – 1 ¾ hours
Preparation: 15 – 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves / Yields: 30 – 40 depends on the serving size

Syrup: (yields 2 cups)

  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice fresh
  • 1 tsp. Rose Water or Orange Flower Water


  • 2 cups Milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream (I used light cream)
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Cornstarch / Corn flour
  • 2 tsp. Rose Water or 2 tsp. Orange Flower Water (I used rose water)
  • 2 lbs. or 900 grams Ricotta Cheese
  • 1lb or 450 grams Kadaif Noodles (I used ½ phyllo strips & ½ Bambino vermicelli that are available in Indian stores. Check notes below)
  • 1 cup unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Syrup
  • 2/3 cups Pistachios chopped


  • Syrup: Combine all the ingredients listed under syrup with 1 cup of water in a sauce pan. On medium heat, stir constantly until mixture boils. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or until syrup thickens and coats the spoon. Let it cool and refrigerate until knafeh is ready.
  • Knafeh: Combine milk, cream, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
  • On medium flame, stir the milk mixture until sugar dissolves and begins to boil.
  • Add rosewater and simmer on low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let it cool. Once it cools, add ricotta cheese and stir until cheese is well blended into the milk-cream custard.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (175C).
  • Melt butter over low heat until it is melted. Skim off the foam with a spoon and do not let it brown.
  • Shred the noodles with hand or in a food process until the pieces are small. I used ½ the phyllo sheets; about 10-12 sheets remaining after making the spinach mushroom cigars. I cut the rolled sheets to thin slices and broke the vermicelli by hand.
  • Pour the butter over noodles/phyllo strips/vermicelli strands. Be careful not to pour the solid particles that have accumulated at the bottom of the butter pan. Mix well using hands rubbing the butter into the noodles to coat well.
  • Spread half the strands onto a 3 quart / 3 liter baking dish. I used a 3 qt. Pyrex baking dish. Flatten the strands and spread it evenly by pressing it firmly into the dish. I spread the phyllo strips onto the bottom of the dish.
  • Spread the ricotta milk mixture over the strands, spread the remaining noodles/ vermicelli strands on top of the ricotta mixture and lightly press it down.
  • Bake knafeh for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the noodles/vermicelli is golden brown on the top. Remove the knafeh from the oven and immediately pour the cold syrup over it.
  • Sprinkle pistachios over knafeh. Cut into piece and serve immediately.

Recipe called for Kadiaf noodles which I believe are found in the freezer section of Middle Eastern stores. I checked Kalustyan’s, an eastern and Middle Eastern store that usually carries lot of spices and groceries from that region. They did not have it and hence used phyllo strips and some Bambino vermicelli (found in Indian stores). I spread the phyllo strips as the base and vermicelli on the top. I must say, I like the vermicelli better as they were crispy and crunchy. Phyllo strips became soft once butter was rubber into it. It did a make a nice base for the knafeh though.

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