RECIPE: Cream Cheese Kunafa Dessert
Kunafa is Team Ahlan!’s favourite Ramadan dessert – we’re obsessed with it! With as many suggested spellings as there are fillings, you’ll find this crunchy cake filled with everything from custard and cream to raisins and nuts. The classic kunafa on an iftar spread is a sweet and savoury combo made with cream cheese and syrup – and it’s not as difficult to create as you may think. The peculiar vermicelli-like pastry can be shop-bought and the rest is a simple matter of layering your ingredients. Go on, try it!
500g raw kunafa dough (shredded filo pastry – you’ll find it in the freezer section)
5-6 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp finely ground semolina
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup double cream
2 cups finely shredded mozzarella
FOR THE SYRUP
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
½ a small lemon
1. Preheat your oven to 175°C.
2. Melt the butter.
3. Place the raw kunafa dough in a big bowl and separate, using your fingers. Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly.
4. Add half of the buttered kunafa dough mix to a cake pan. Press down for a smooth base without lumps.
5 Make custard by whisking the whole milk and semolina over a moderate heat until it has thickened.
6 Add the sugar and vanilla, gradually thinning out the custard with the double cream.
7 Using a spatula, cover the entire base of kunafa and top with the shredded mozzarella.
8 Top with the remaining kunafa dough mix, again pressing down so that it is completely flat.
9 Place in the oven for 35 minutes until golden brown.
10 Make the syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat, for about 10 minutes.
11 Once the syrup feels like it has thickened, add the lemon juice and stir for 2 more minutes.
12 Take the syrup off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
13 Pour the syrup on top of the kunafa evenly, cool for 10 minutes and serve.