Cook's Hideout: Turkish Kanefe/ Knafeh

September 23, 2014

Turkish Kanefe/ Knafeh

Couple of my friends took me to a Turkish restaurant for my birthday this year. They ordered this crispy, flaky and sweet pastry and we were served a bubbling hot dessert that I used as a cake to blow the candle. The candle almost melted in the hot dessert. I was sold the minute I had my first bite -- it was sweet, crunchy, creamy and absolutely delicious. I heard the name of the dish but it hardly registered in my brain because I was busy eating it.
Turkish Kunefe/ Knafeh
Then I saw Usha's post for Knafeh and then I realized that it can be made at home. So it had to become part of my Turkish meal. This dessert is very easy to put together, if you have all the ingredients ready.
Turkish Kunefe

I bought the shredded phyllo pastry from the Turkish grocery. Traditionally a white semi soft cheese called Ulfa peynir is used in the filling, but since I couldn't lay my hands on it, I used a combination of ricotta & mozzarella cheeses. The sugar syrup can be made while the kunafes are baking. Syrup is the only element that gives sweetness to the dessert, so be generous with it. All in all a rich and decadent dessert that can be made with minimum efforts. My cheese turned a little darker than I expected, but taste was not compromised in any way.
Turkish Kunefe/ Knafeh
Ingredients: For 4 Servings
Knafeh pastry/ Shredded Phyllo dough - half of 1lb. package
Unsalted Butter - 6tbsp
Pistachios - 2tbsp, finely chopped

For the Cheese Filling:
Ricotta cheese - 1cup
Mozzarella cheese - ¼cup, grated

For the Sugar Syrup:
Sugar - ½cup
Golden Syrup - 2tbsp
Water - ½cup
Rosewater - 2tsp

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  • Prepare the Pastry: Shred the phyllo dough into smaller pieces. I used my kitchen scissors to do it, but a quick whirl in the food processor will help too.
  • Take the shredded pastry in a mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well to nicely coat everything with butter.
  • To make the Filling: Combine ricotta cheese and grated mozzarella in a small mixing bowl.
  • To Assemble: I used 4 mini tart pans, but a square baking dish will work great here. Divide the pastry on the bottom of the baking pans. Next divide the filling evenly on top of the pastry. Finally add the remaining pastry on top of the filling and press lightly.
  • Bake in the oven for 40~45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  • Make the Sugar Syrup: While the kunafehs are baking in the oven, make the syrup, Combine water, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5~7 minutes or until the syrup turns thick. Stir in rosewater and set aside until ready to use.
  • Remove from the oven, cool for 5~10 minutes. Pour the syrup making sure to cover all the nooks and crannies. Cool for few minutes before inverting them onto serving plate. Garnish with chopped pistachios and serve.
Turkish Kunefe/ Knafeh
Check out the entire Turkish meal here.


  1. I am sold Pavani..I will have to make this..your pictures are so awesome!

  2. Your knafeh turned out perfect and I was wondering if you made chocolate flavored knafeh seeing that brown filling on the outside. Knafeh turned out perfect and did not know we get shredded phyllo sheets. I like the way you baked it in small containers. Thanks for the mention.

  3. Love this dessert. I wanted to make it but could not decide whether to make or buy the shredded pastry. It looks fabulous!

  4. Turkish desserts are mind blowing, they might be loaded with fatty stuff but awesome is the word. I tried to get this shredded pastry, but hard luck so settled with Indian vermicilli...fantastic dessert and very very well done.

  5. I am sold Pavani. Do you think that reducing the oven temperature / cooking time would not give that burnt look?
    I had this on my mind for the BM and even laid my hand on the knafeh pastry box at my local grocers but held back at the last moment. My son is the only one who shares sweet dishes with me and usually I prepare sweets in very small amount. This seemed like one my son wouldn't touch and was too much for my waist line when I reached the final week of the marathon. :)

  6. This looked like vermicelli to me since getting phyllo sheets is out of question this will have to be with vermicelli. Looks so very yummmm.

  7. I always thought this was so difficult to make but I am going to try it soon - maybe for Christmas


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