Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Knafeh bi jibneh كنافة بالجبنة

Knafeh is a dessert made with either cheese or ushta (which is the cream fat skimmed from the top of simmering milk). Usually, though, when people make Knafeh with ushta it is not made with real ushta but rather a thickened and sweetened milk pudding. In this post i made Knafeh with 2 kinds of cheese, most people are intimidated but i have got to say this is a very easy dessert, what is the best part you say? Well Knafeh can be made ahead of time and either stored in the refridgerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer. Here is how I made Knafeh bi jibneh.

First we need knafeh dough also known as kataifi which is found in the freezer section at grocery stores. Place the frozen knafeh dough in the fridge the day before you plan on using it so that it can thaw out. This dough i believe is the same thing as filo dough except in strings so it dries out rather fast.
I melted 1 cup of butter. Traditionally Knafeh is made with Samneh or ghee but the taste of samneh is too strong so i mixed butter and samneh. I did not end up using the full cup of butter but rather 3/4 cups but it depends on your dough.
Start by shredding the knafeh dough into little pieces with your hand. and drizzle butter on the broken up dough slowly. Alternate between shredding the dough and putting butter, i think this helps the butter distribute more evenly throughout the dough.
Once the dough is done being shredded sprinkle about 3/4 of the dough into a pan (i used a 12 inch pan). Some people use a knafeh powdered food coloring to color the top of the knafeh, i forgot. If you want to color your knafeh mix 1 tablespoon of soft butter with as much coloring as you desire and then start sprinkling the knafeh dough.
This looks like alot of dough but you are going to press it down. Another reason for most of the dough being at the bottom is because you don't want any part of the pan to be exposed because then the cheese will melt and burn.
Press the knafeh dough down as much as possible so that when it cooks it is one piece.
I used a mixture of mozzarella cheese soaked in water to remove any salt. I also used a sweet cheese which i soaked for a little to get rid of any salt there might be. After they have soaked and the salt is gone dry the cheese well and crumble it so that they mix. I added 2 tablespoons of sugar to even out any salt that i didn't remove by soaking.
evenly spread the cheese but don't spread to the end so it doesn't burn.
I got this tip form Najat's Kitchen on your tube. Press paper towel down on the cheese until the paper towel no longer absorbs water. Here is a link to Najat's video on how to make knafeh. Although my recipe is not from her, knafeh is made pretty much the same way everywhere.
sprinkle the rest of the dough on top of the cheese and push it down. Cook in the oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.
The knafeh should be golden brown on top and the knafeh should come away from the pan a little like in this picture.
Invert the knafeh on a serving tray and pour sugar syrup while its still hot. garnish with crushed pistachios and serve.

Written Recipe:

1 package of kataifeh dough
2 cups of either sweet cheese or akawi cheese
1 cup of mozzarella
2 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 to 1 cup of butter or samneh


  1. mmm i might make this too!
    why did you use two kinds of cheeses? can i just use mozzarlla? and do you use fresh mozzarella or pre-shredded?

    if I may make a resquest, PLEASE add a section or include more recipes for 3azayim... i can get by when it comes to every day recipes, but whenever i think about entertaining i always need inspiration and i don't know where to look!

  2. Yes i actually like ur post some as soon as i make some! Any request in particular?

  3. Sorry I forgot to answer your question, I use a mixture of cheeses because mozzarella is more stringy and melts really well where as the sweet cheese or ackawi cheese melts but isn't as stringy but it does have a low salt content. I use the shredded cheese and you need to soak it really well especially if it's the only cheese you are going to use. I have seen people make knafeh with fresh
    MoEralla butbut the problem is it has alot of water and may make your knafeh sogg up

    1. where do you get your ackawi cheese from? I am on the east coast. and was there a substitute i can use if i can not find Ackawi cheese?

  4. ya just use fresh mozerella that is squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible. Hope that helps.