Rating: 4.55 stars
29 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 19
  • 4 star values: 8
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0

A favorite Palestinian dessert! Crunchy shredded phyllo dough is baked with a layer of creamy sweet cheese and then drenched in rosewater syrup. It's simple yet impressive. The cheese filling is traditionally made from Nabulsi cheese that is desalted. The ricotta-mozzarella mix is a great substitute, and lower-fat products can be used. If you have access to a Middle Eastern grocery, you can probably find kanafa dye, which turns the dough into the orange or reddish color that is the signature of kanafa.

Recipe Summary test

prep:
25 mins
cook:
35 mins
total:
60 mins
Servings:
8
Yield:
1 9x13-inch pan
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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist
For the syrup:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

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  • Use a food processor to finely chop the frozen, shredded phyllo dough. The strands should be about the size of a grain of rice. Pour the dough into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup sugar.

  • Place the butter in a large liquid measuring cup or bowl with a spout. Heat the butter in a microwave until completely melted, and let it sit for several minutes until a thick white foam has formed on top. Clarify the butter by using a spoon to skim off the foam.

  • Carefully pour the butter into the bowl of phyllo dough. Avoid pouring in the white milk solids at the bottom of the clarified butter. Use your hands to mix the butter and dough together. Make sure that the butter is absorbed by taking handfuls of the dough and rubbing it between your palms.

  • Evenly spread the buttered phyllo dough into a 9x13-inch pan and firmly press it into the bottom and edges. Spread the cheese mixture onto the dough, avoiding the edges of the pan.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is slightly golden and the edges of dough are brown and bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes.

  • While the kanafa is baking, prepare the syrup. Combine the water and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the lemon juice. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. (Do not let the mixture turn golden and caramelize.) Remove from heat and add the rose water; set aside.

  • Remove the kanafa from the oven. Place a large platter or baking sheet over the baking dish. Using oven mitts, carefully invert the baking dish onto the platter so the phyllo is on top. Pour the syrup over the kanafa. Cut into pieces and serve while hot.

Editor's Note

Shredded phyllo dough (kataifi) is available in the freezer section in many grocery stores.

Nutrition Facts

664 calories; protein 12.9g; carbohydrates 59.2g; fat 42.1g; cholesterol 115.8mg; sodium 277.7mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (20)

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
05/30/2013
I'm Palestinian and love your recipe ,i agree Read More
(26)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
07/24/2016
I didn't like it but I couldn't find rose water. Perhaps if I had been able to find all of the ingredients it would have been better. Don't bother trying this recipe unless you have ALL of the ingredients! Read More
29 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 19
  • 4 star values: 8
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
05/30/2013
I'm Palestinian and love your recipe ,i agree Read More
(26)
Rating: 5 stars
05/17/2011
MMM delicious!! make sure you serve it with chopped pistachios! Read More
(21)
Rating: 4 stars
05/24/2011
Its great just make sure you use the shredded dough n then shread it in small grain size.i made a mistake by using the regular dough n shredding it though the taste was awesome the texture was completly messed up. Read More
(19)
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Rating: 5 stars
09/27/2012
Eating this was pure evilness. I can't even explain how amazing this is. It's sweet and cheesy and buttery and crunchy and gooey. And evil. I added sweet cheese to the filling about a half pound chopped up. It's found in middle eastern groceries. And I added pistachios to the top...bottom? Walnuts that are toasted well in the baking process are a delicious and cheaper alternative to pistachios if you choose to add nuts. Spread the chopped nuts about 1/2 cup on the bottom of the baking dish before the first layer of kataifi. And add some red food dye to the syrup for a beautiful presentation or holiday event. Do not skip the rose water. I have made this with orange blossom water and rose water combined and the taste is incredible too. It's hard to find kataifi even in all the international grocers in ATL. But the search is WELL WORTH IT! Read More
(13)
Rating: 5 stars
08/08/2012
It was great! I used orange blossom water instead of rose water and added a little more Nablusi cheese because I like my Kanafi a little more firm. This was also my first time making it and didn't know how to add the powdered kanafi food coloring and ended up adding too much because before it cooks it looks like an odd red color instead of the bright orange it turns while baking. That info would have been much appreciated but otherwise a good recipe. Read More
(10)
Rating: 5 stars
12/23/2012
Very good, almost exactly like what I ate while visiting Jordan. Read More
(9)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/15/2012
great recipe you can use ghee instead of butter Read More
(6)
Rating: 4 stars
07/14/2014
For me the kataifi was not proportionate to the amount of cheese. I would possibly increase the amount of cheese by one third to get a nice amount of cheese in every bite. I was worried about making the syrup bitter and took it off the stove too soon. Read More
(5)
Rating: 4 stars
09/03/2010
it is good Read More
(4)
Rating: 2 stars
07/24/2016
I didn't like it but I couldn't find rose water. Perhaps if I had been able to find all of the ingredients it would have been better. Don't bother trying this recipe unless you have ALL of the ingredients! Read More