Künefe (Kanafeh) | Turkish Dessert
Updated: May 5
This traditional Middle Eastern dessert features mozzarella and ricotta cheeses baked between layers of shredded phyllo dough and a pistachio filling soaked in a sweet syrup, much like baklava. This glorious dessert is the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors, and is the perfect contrast of soft and crispy textures. It is best served hot right out of the oven so the cheese is soft and stringy.
Originally published 1/27/2018; Updated 4/26/2020
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¾ cup salted butter (use good quality butter)
¾ lb shredded phyllo dough
½ lb fresh mozzarella, grated
½ lb ricotta cheese
¾ cup ground pistachios, divided
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter an 8-inch square or round baking dish.
Make the syrup by whisking together the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup thickens. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the shredded phyllo until evenly coated with the butter. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, mix together the cheeses with ½ cup ground pistachios.
Press half of the phyllo mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Top evenly with the cheese mixture. Then press the remaining phyllo mixture on top of the cheese layer.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes until golden brown.
Immediately ladle the syrup mixture on top of the hot pastry. Let the pastry sit for 5 minutes to absorb the syrup. Serve immediately with ground pistachios sprinkled on top of each piece.