A beautiful, crunchy Arabic dessert made with kunafa dough with a super creamy filling…
The end of Ramadan always feels heavy, irrespective of how hard it has been. Compared to the years before, this Ramadan has been quite friendly as far as the weather was concerned. The fasts were still long but the summer didn’t come by in its expected capacity. But just like how it has been almost every Ramadan, the Palestine-Isreal problem is sprouting up again. It is absolutely painful that it is repeated almost in the same fashion or in graver consequences every year. I don’t want to get into it but it is really difficult to ignore what goes in the news. All we can do is to continue to practice patience and constantly make dua to Allah that He makes things better for them and all the oppressed Muslims across the world…
“Seek Allah’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble.” (Surah Al Baqarah:45)
On another note, the Covid situation back home has been very disturbing and the news that kept coming in have been less that optimism. The media has not been the best for mental peace and I have been trying to stay away from listening too much of it. To top it all, the travel to India has been suspended indefinitely until further notice, and that makes me feel even more sad. I was supposed to be travelling next month for my TMJ follow up and now it looks like it isn’t going to happen. I was just hoping I could bring my parents over for last part of Ramadan so that they could be here for Eid as well, but then I was just hinting to D that he had jinxed it all by showing his lack of interest when I had put up the plan to him while we were home on vacation.
At the moment, my only thought is that they just need to be safe wherever they are. All of us except B – he already took his vaccination in the first phase, due to his work requirement – are awaiting our second dose of the Covid vaccines, so that it is a little ray of hope in between all the bad news flashing. I just hope and pray things get better, people get some sense into them with all that is happening in our country and take the right decision when they exercise their ballots next time…
Since Eid is just around the corner, it makes sense to post a recipe that celebrates the feeling of Eid. Whatever the situation maybe, any celebration at least needs a little pomp just to make our hearts happy, isn’t it? Kunafa is one very much requested recipe, that I wasn’t very comfortable to try in all these years, mainly because I thought I wasn’t going to get it right. If you remember, I had posted once about the dud of my first Kunafa attempt, the taste of the salty filling still playing in my memory. However, the success of the Bread Kunafa I made last Ramadan gave me a little confidence to make the actual Kunafa. Hehe… It takes me a really long time to always make my duds but I feel Kunafa took way more time that it deserved to be tried…
Kunafa always brings in a rush of a lot of memories. D used to work in a bank that had a lot of local clients. Since he was into relationship management, whenever they come to see him, they would bring him something. Most of the time, it would be Patchi chocolates and many other times it would be packs of Kunafa in various forms. We would never see the Patchi. Umma would hide it absolutely without any trace and we would see it the time we were travelling back home. Just to keep our mouths shut, she would give us one each and shoo us away. 😀 I can’t imagine doing that now with my girls,especially when all the time, all they complaint is, “You never buy anything for us.” I better not get into those details… hehe… But thankfully Kunafa has lesser shelf life so umma had no option that allowing us to enjoy them. Hehe…
The Kunafas you get here comes in different shapes and sizes – topped up and down, bottomless ones, just the Kunafa dough rolled and drizzled with sugar syrup… The last one always gives me a cheated feeling… I mean, no filling? Hehe… Since I had my cousin over at home and B’s birthday was during this month, it gave me the perfect opportunity to make it. Having more mouths to feed is always a plus point. I depended on the recipe that I had torn from the newspaper “God knows when” and had pinned it to my kitchen notice board long enough for it to turn from white to yellow. You know what I mean… I also took a little motivation from my friends Fami’s and Amira’s Kunafa posts before I actually went neck deep into making it.
I then realized this wasn’t as tough as I had imagined, or more due to the jitters my first experience gave me. After thawing the Kunafa dough, you need to shred the dough. If you don’t want to do it manually, you can use a food processor, like I did. Most of the recipes I saw online used ghee for rubbing into the dough. I have used melted butter, however pour just the melted portion and do not scrape the residue that lies at the bottom of the pan into the dough. Now I was a bit worried about the amount of fat that goes in, however I realized that it is that amount that gives the crispy feel and the dark shade to the dough, without having to add any additional color. So please do not skimp on it. After all, it is a rich dessert…
Doing a cheese filling is always a little confusing so I went with a creamy filling. The filling is a milk and cream mixture thickened with semolina and cornflour, and then spiked with some regular cream cheese. After the addition of the flavored water, the temptation to actually lick the filling will be extremely high. It actually feels like a cross between the delish Layali Lubnan and the Muhallabieh. I advise to be really patient and not allow yourself to dig in, that you may end up having to bake only the Kunafa dough without the filling inside. 😉 Next time I make this, I am thinking of going with a generous sprinkling of grated Mozarella cheese for that extra pull and richness. It isn’t authentic, but definitely would be amazing – just like in Cleobuttera’s Kunafa!
Another thing I would like to mention is to make the sugar syrup first. You can make it at least a week in prior and store it. When I was making the sugar syrup, I realized I didn’t have lime or lemon in my pantry. It caused my sugar syrup to crystallize. So do not skip the lime or lemon juice by any chance. I have used only flavored waters in the sugar syrup but you can add cardamom powder as well as add a crushing of saffron. Once the three sections are completed, it is very easy to assemble and bake this delicioius dessert. As soon as you take it out of the oven, flip into a bigger tray and pour the sugar syrup so that it soaks into the Kunafa, yet stays crunchy. Keeping it in the same pan can make the bottom soggy.
Despite having quite a lot of pictures in this post, I am not able to keep the post as short as possible. 😀 Try this dessert if you have a group to feed or maybe just to indulge in it yourself. Wishing all my lovely readers a safe Eid in this difficult situation… Though it is a little more safer here, it is better not to be complacent and do our celebrations within the guidelines and restrictions… ThakabalAllah Minna Waminkum… Meanwhile, I am running a giveaway for my followers in the UAE on my Instagram handle. Do check out and don’t forget to participate… 🙂
Kunafa/ Knafeh - Easy Cream Kunafah
- 500 bm kunafa dough thawed
- 225 gm butter melted
- Crushed pistachios and rose petals for garnish
FOR SUGAR SYRUP
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water refer notes
- 2 cups milk
- 250 gm thick cream
- 2 tbsp semolina
- 3 tbsp corn flour
- 3 tbsp sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup cream cheese refer notes
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 tbsp orange blossom water
- First of all, prepare the sugar syrup. Combine the sugar, water and lime juice in a saucepan and bring to boil. There is no need to stir.
- Keep the timer on 10 minutes, reduce the flame and allow the syrup to cook. Switch off, add the rose water and orange blossom water and allow to cool completely. You can prepare the syrup a week in advance.
- For the filling, in a saucepan, combine from milk to sugar and keep on low flame. Cook till the mixture thickens.
- Add the cheese and give a good stir. Make sure there are no lumps. Add the rose water and orange blossom water and switch off. Allow to cool completely.
- Shred the kunafa dough using a food processor or food scissors. Add the butter and rub into all the dough.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease a 12 inch pie pan or a 9X13 sqare pan (I used a 9 inch and 6 inch pie pans) well with butter or ghee.
- Line with around 60% of the buttered kunafa dough. Press down and towards the sides.
- Spread the cooled filling evenly all over, with soft hands.
- Sprinkle the remaining kunafa dough to cover the filling and pat down with hands dipped in cold water.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Switch on the grill and wait till the top is slightly browned.
- Take out of the oven and immediately flip onto a large plate. Pour the cold sugar syrup over till just covered. Reserve the remaining syrup to use while serving.
- Garnish with crushed pistachios and/or rose petals.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, as wished.