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slice of knafeh with crispy pastry and melted cheese inside on a small plate, another plate in the background


  • Author: Zoha
  • Total Time: 45 min
  • Yield: 15 servings


A delicious dessert made with crispy shredded phyllo pastry and sweet cheese soaked in sugar syrup


  • 1 lb Kataifi (shredded phyllo dough) - usually 1 pack
  • 3/4 cups ghee or butter + more to brush inside pan
  • 1 tsp Knafeh food color
  • 1 lb sweet cheese (or Queso Fresco or ricotta)
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, pressed dry
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Rosewater extract to taste
  • Chopped pistachios for decoration


  • Prepare the cheeses. If using an alternative to sweet cheese which contains salt, first soak in water for 2 hours. Then slice into 1/4" slices along with the mozzarella and press between paper towels to dry out (don't do this step if using ricotta cheese)
  • Pre-heat oven to 450F and prepare your baking pan(s) by brushing butter inside
  • In a large bowl, shred the kataifi into 1-3" long strands
  • Mix the ghee with the food color and add to the kataifi. Rub in thoroughly with your hands to coat all strands
  • Add 3/4 of the kataifi to the baking pan(s) and press down very firmly, pushing some of it up the edges to create a tart like casing
  • Add a layer of the sweet cheese, crumbling it with your hands. Then add a layer of mozzarella, tearing into large chunks as you go. Press down both cheeses
  • Add the remaining kataifi on top and press down
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the Knafeh is golden and crispy on the edges and bottom, it should become loose from the pan
  • In the meanwhile, prepare the syrup by mixing sugar, water and rosewater extract in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for just 1-2 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool
  • Once the Knafeh is baked, carefully turn it out onto the serving dish you are using. Using a large spoon, gently drench the Knafeh in the syrup. It should be thoroughly wet but not overflowing
  • Decorate with chopped pistachios, slice and serve! Knafeh is best eaten very warm (or hot)
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Keywords: Knafeh