Kunafa (Modified and Swapped Ingredients) | Accu-Chek
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Kunafa (Modified and Swapped Ingredients)

Traditional Ingredients:

  •  500g Kunafa dough (shredded phyllo dough), thawed
  • 2 Cups of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 Cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Cup water
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon rose water or orange blossom water
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted
  •  Crushed pistachios
  •  Ground cinnamon

Modified Ingredients (Lighter option with swaps):

  • 500g Kunafa dough (shredded phyllo dough), thawed
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted (or a mix of butter and a heart-healthy oil like olive oil for a lighter version)
  • 2 Cups of ricotta cheese or a mixture of low-fat ricotta and cottage cheese
  • For the filling: 1/4 Cup of a sugar substitute (e.g. erythritol, stevia blend, or monk fruit sweetener)
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • For the syrup: 1/2 Cup of a sugar substitute (e.g. erythritol, stevia blend, or monk fruit sweetener)
  • 1 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon rose water or orange blossom water (optional)

Preparation Instructions:

To make the syrup (Can be made, up to a week in advance)

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the stevia, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on a stovetop over high heat. Try to avoid stirring it as it heats to prevent crystallization from happening, but if the stevia is not dissolving, then help it out with a few stirs. Once it comes to a boil, STOP stirring.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for no longer than 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken slightly, and have a consistency similar to pancake syrup. If it simmers for longer it could thicken too much and become candy-like.
  3. Remove from heat, then stir in the rose and orange blossom waters. Transfer to a medium bowl, liquid measuring cup or gravy boat and allow to cool to room temperature before using.
  5. In a small saucepan, off heat, combine together the milk, heavy cream, stevia, semolina and cornstarch.
  6. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, and continue cooking until the mixture thickens into a loose pudding-like consistency; about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the orange blossom and rose waters. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the kunafa.

To make the cheese filling

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, stevia (if using), orange blossom and rose waters.

To assemble the Kunafa

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 200C/ 390F.
  2. Heavily grease a 12"/ 30cm round cake pan with ghee or butter. A larger pan size (like a 14"/ 35cm deep dish pizza pan may be used, but note that the kunafa will turn out thinner) Alternatively, the kunafa could also be split over 2 (9"/ 23cm) or 4 (6"/ 15cm) pans. You could bake one now and freeze the other(s) for later.
  3. Over a large bowl, shred the konafa/kataifi dough into 1inch/ 2.5cm long pieces. I have found that cutting the kunafa while semi frozen, makes the easiest way to break it. So even if using fresh kunafa, stick it in the freezer for about an hour before cutting it.
  4. Pour the melted ghee evenly over the kunafa. If using butter instead of ghee, for fresh, extra thin konafa dough, just pour the yellow liquid (butterfat) of the melted butter, leaving behind the white layer (milk solids). If using thicker, frozen konafa/kadiafi, just pour all the butter in. Mix the butter evenly with you hands, into the kanafeh shreds, making sure it gets well coated and every strand is glistening.
  5. Transfer two-thirds the amount of konafa in the prepared pan and firmly press it on the bottom and up the sides. Make a wall with the konafa around the sides of the pan; this will help contain the filling during the baking process and prevent it from burning. Pack the konafa as tightly as possible. Use the bottom of a cup or measuring cup, to help pack it tightly and smooth out the konafa.
  6. Pour in half of the cooled, semolina pudding and spread with a spatula into a thin layer. Top with the cheese mixture and pat down into an even layer. Cover with the remaining semolina pudding.
  7. Scatter on the remaining third of the konafa over the cream filling; lightly press it on to adhere.
  8. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top and sides of the konafa are deep golden brown in color. Use a knife to push the side of the konafa, to check the color. The longer it bakes, the crunchier it gets.
  9. Remove the konafa from the oven and immediately pour on about 3/4 of the scented syrup, starting from the edge and moving towards the center, in a circular motion, making sure to cover the entire surface. Reserve leftover syrup for drizzling over individual servings.
  10. Let the konafa rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow for the syrup to soak in, then flip on to a serving platter. Decorate the edges with halved pistachios, or for a more traditional look, Cover the entire surface with ground out pistachios.
  11. Cut into wedges and serve right away, while still hot, passing along extra syrup, as desired. Kunafa is best enjoyed warm, while the filling is still gooey, but it still tastes delicious at room temperature and the filling will still be soft but not gooey. Leftovers maybe stored in the refrigerator, then rewarmed in the oven or microwave.


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