Künefe, the original recipe for the great Turkish dessert

Künefe, or Kanafeh, is a typical dessert from all over the Middle East, although the most delicious recipe you can find is that of Turkish cuisine. In practice, it is (goat) cheese enclosed between two layers of very finely cut phyllo dough, in the shape of thin noodles, which takes the name of Kataifi. The phyllo dough is compacted, seasoned with butter, baked in the oven and then covered with a syrup of water and sugar. The Turkish recipe calls for a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and a nice dose of kaymak, a cream cheese, the same condiment used for baklava too. 

How to make Turkish Künefe at home

Although Künefe is a typical dessert of many countries, with even minimal variations, what never changes is the delicious contrast between the slightly savory flavor of the cheese and the sweetness of honey, all framed by the crunchiness of the phyllo dough. If you want to surprise your guests with a particular and tasty dessert, try this Turkish delight.

Ingredients for Turkish Künefe

For the dessert

– 500 grams of Kataifi paste
– 200 grams of butter
– 500 grams of ricotta or goat cheese or even half and half

For the garnish

– 300 grams of sugar
– 300 ml of water
– lemon juice and zest, finely grated
– cinnamon, optional
– orange flower water, if you prefer instead of cinnamon, but always optional
– 70 grams of chopped pistachios

Kanafeh recipe

How to prepare the perfect Künefe

Turn on the oven at 170-180 degrees. Divide the Kataifi dough into several parts and separate the noodles and place them on a large plate, being careful not to crumble it too much. Season with melted butter, so that all the pasta is well covered. Take a 15 cm cake tin and generously butter the bottom. Take half of the Kataifi pastry and line the bottom of the mold. If it is too dry, grease with butter. Work the ricotta with a spatula until it is creamy. Spread a layer on top of the Kataifi and then close with the rest of the dough. To help you seal perfectly, use more melted butter as a glue.
Put in the hot oven and cook for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup by dissolving sugar, water and lemon juice and lemon zest in a saucepan, until it takes on a syrupy consistency. If you want to flavor with other juices such as apple or pear or with cinnamon or rose water, substitute lemon juice. Remove from the oven and immediately cover with the syrup, a nice spoonful of kaymak and sprinkle with a handful of coarsely chopped pistachios.