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Knafeh is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert prepared with Clotted Cream (Ashta) and akawi or mozzarella Cheese.

Is a visually stimulating dessert that is attractive in it’s beautiful golden exterior, but it’s heavenly taste as well.

This is one of those desserts that will have you coming back for seconds (and thirds lol) because of how light, scrumptious, and delicious it is!


Kunafa Ashta Recipe with delicious phyllo dough, clotted-cream and cheese filling that is an easy dessert with simple ingredients. Also called knafeh, konafeh
Knafeh bi Ashta is a popular Ramadan treat and a perfect dessert for all occasions!

I decided to add ashta cream since I figured it would taste good and sure things, it seriously took it to another level of DELICIOUS!

This step is totally optional though. You can skip adding the sweet cream (ashta) and you will still get the ultimate experience.

Traditionally, ashta is not added to kanafa.


What is Knafeh?

Also spelled konafa and kanafa, and pronounced kunafa, this dessert is super popular across the Middle East.

It also has a sister dish by the name Osmaliyi (Ossamallieyh), which is very similar with small differences, especially with the filling. Be sure to check out my Osamaliyi recipe!


Kanafa with Melted Cheese
That crunchy golden phyllo (kadayif noodles) dough is so irresistable!

The Different Knafeh Dough

Kunafa or knafeh is made with either a semolina and butter or ghee dough combo or a shredded phyllo dough.

The shredded phyllo is quite similar to vermicelli but much thinner and finer. My recipe calls for phyllo dough because in this Kunafa with Clotted Cream and Cheese recipe has a special filling.

You can learn more about what the difference in fillings is and what ingredients I use in my unique recipe below.


Cheesy Konafa with Atir or simple syrup
A cheesy interior and golden crispy exterior!

Different Knafeh Dough

The semolina dough is mixed with lots of butter or ghee among a few other ingredients and packed tightly. The semolina dough is only served in one layer on top of the filling and is soft.

The phyllo dough, also cooked in butter to get its golden color, is crunchier. In fact, it packs a lot of crunch! Especially because the phyllo dough is in two layers, one on the bottom and one on the top, with the filling in between.


Filling

The filling in the center of the knafeh is usually either a clotted cream or cheese. I decided to add ashta, clotted cream to give it that extra creaminess and oh boy it way a beautiful combo!

The clotted cream, or ashta, is easy to make (see recipes below) and is best served cold. When using cheese, you’re usually using a mix of cheeses to balance flavor and texture.

With cheese filling, it’s best served warm so you can get that stretch on the cheese when eating.


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Stretchy Cheese Kanafa
Yummy mozzarella mixed with creamy ashta that stretches on and on!

My filling is special because it mixes both! The ashta in my recipe is optional, but I would advise you give it a try. You won’t make it any other way!

The ashta and cheese mix creates the perfect balance between creamy and cheesy textures and tastes.


Kunafa Ashta Recipe with delicious phyllo dough, clotted-cream and cheese filling that is an easy dessert with simple ingredients. Also called knafeh, konafeh
Kunafa with Clotted Cream (Ashta) and Cheese is a show-stopping dessert perfect for any sweet tooth!

Serving Knafeh with Clotted Cream and Cheese

The best thing about this kunafa recipe is you can serve it in so many ways. It all depends on your personal preference or what your loved ones prefer.

It tastes amazing served warm and tastes just as delicious served cold! You can make it in an oven-safe dish or pan of choice and serve it directly from there.

You can opt to cook up the phyllo dough and divide it up into cups, layer the cream and cheese mixture, and then add another layer of the dough. We call these Kunafa Cups, and they are great for individual servings.


Kunafa Ashta Recipe with delicious phyllo dough, clotted-cream and cheese filling that is an easy dessert with simple ingredients. Also called knafeh, konafeh
Traditionally called Kanafa bi Jibn!

Another great thing is that you can decorate this dessert with so many different garnishes.

You can save some ashta and pipe it out on the edges of the dish. Also, you can also pipe ashta out on individual pieces after cutting and before serving.

You can sprinkle crushed pistachios or walnuts. You can drizzle extra simply syrup on top or even honey!


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Kanafah with Mozzarella Cheese
Beautifully decorated Knafeh with a cheesy filling that stretches for days!

Ingredients

  • shredded phyllo dough
  • unsalted butter; melted or ghee
  • Belgioioso sliced mozzarella or any block of mozzarella cheese
  • salt
  • Ashta (optional)
  • sugar
  • blossom water
  • rose water
  • ground pistachio
  • simple syrup
  • Ashta for decoration (optional)

How to Make Knafeh

Preheat oven to 350F.

Soak the mozzarella cheese in water for 1-2 hours, changing the water a few times.

Empty the thawed, shredded phyllo dough in a medium pan and gently pull apart. Begin placing a ⅓ of the phyllo in the food processor and blend until the phyllo hairs are finely shredded (Refer to recipe video below).

Place the finely shredded phyllo back in the pan or in a bowl.

Now, place the soaked and drained cheese in the food processor, add blossom water, rose water, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Blend until cheese is finely chopped into small curd cheese.

You can use a 14.5 x 11 rectangular pan or you can use a medium round pan. Grease the pan using melted butter (optional) or cooking oil spray. Place half of the finely shredded phyllo in the pan. Press down so that the pan is all covered and even. 

Optional- Add ashta cream in parts. Carefully spread or, I find it is best to spoon or pipe, a little at a time all over to avoid ruining the bottom layer.

Next layer will be the finely chopped cheese mix. Place cheese all over the surface. 

Cover the last layer with the remaining half of finely chopped phyllo dough in patches until all areas are covered.

Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow Kanafa to rest for about 5 minutes before flipping onto a larger tray. Garnish with ground pistachios and generously drizzle with simple syrup. Enjoy!


Tips

  • You can add ricotta to the mozzarella cheese to make an even more creamier filling, especially if you’re opting out of using ashta in the filling.
  • It’s a great idea to rub the phyllo dough with melted butter or ghee using your hands to get an extra golden color, help it cook more evenly, and get an extra crunch to it.
  • If you can’t find the shredded phyllo dough, also called Kataifi Shredded Dough, at a local market, you can order it online.
  • Thaw out the dough ahead of time if you buy it frozen.
  • You can shred the dough from its longer strands by pulling it apart by hand, using sanitized kitchen scissors to cut it up, or putting it in a food processor for a few quick rounds.
  • Drizzling the syrup when the kunafa is still hot helps the dough soak it all up and enhance the flavor. You can also warm the syrup a bit before use if it’s cooled which also helps the dough better absorb it.
  • Knafeh can be stored in the fridge for up to one week. You can eat it cold or warm it up in the oven to get that crunch back in the dough.

Lebanese Knafeh Recipe

Knafeh with Melted Mozzarella Cheese made with shredded phyllo dough then drizzled with warm simple syrup
It’s so yummy you won’t end up with leftovers!

Other Delicious Desserts You Will Love


5 from 6 votes

Knafeh with Clotted Cream (Ashta) and Cheese

By: Lama
The popular dessert across the middle east known as Knafeh! A sweet decadent dessert with a crunchy, buttery, golden phyllo exterior and a creamy cheesy filling that is soaked with simple syrup!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10

Ingredients 

Ashta Ingredients

Simple Syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon blossom water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rose water, optional

Instructions 

Knafeh

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • To remove the salt, soak the cheese in water for 1-2 hours, changing the water a few times.
  • Empty the thawed, shredded phyllo dough in a medium pan and gently pull apart.  Begin placing a ⅓ of the phyllo in the food processor and blend until the phyllo hairs are finely shredded (Refer to recipe video below).
  • Place all of the finely shredded phyllo back in the pan or in a bowl.
  • Now, place the drained cheese in food processor, add blossom water, rose water, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Blend until cheese is finely chopped into small curd cheese.
  • You can use a 14.5 x 11 rectangular pan or you can use a medium round pan. Grease the pan using melted butter (optional) or cooking oil spray.  Place half of the finely shredded phyllo in the pan. Press down so that the pan is all covered and even. 
  • Optional- Add ashta cream in parts. Carefully spread or, I find it is best to spoon or pipe, a little at a time all over to avoid ruining the bottom layer.
  • Next layer will be the finely chopped cheese mix. Place cheese all over the surface. 
  • Cover the last layer with the remaining half of finely chopped phyllo dough in patches until all areas are covered.
  • Place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow Knafeh to rest for about 5 minutes before flipping onto a larger tray. Garnish with ground pistachios and generously drizzle with simple syrup. Enjoy!

Ashta Directions

  • In a medium pot while the stove is OFF, add in the milk, sugar, rose water, and starch.
  • Whisk until corn starch has fully dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the heat on high and continue whisking until it comes to a boil. You should see the milk thicken into a white pudding (see video below). Once it has thickened, remove pan off of the heat.
  • Add in the ricotta cheese then whisk well incorporated, fluffy and whipped! You can enjoy it right away or use it with many different middle easter desserts (see the recommended desserts linked above this recipe card).
  • Allow the ashta to cool for 20 minutes them refrigerate for 2-4 hours or over night until firm.

Simply Syrup (Ater)

  • In a small pot place the water, sugar, and blossom water.  Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil, add the 2 tablespoons of lemon. 
  • Bring heat to low, for about 10-15 minutes. 
  • Drizzle syrup over your favorite desserts. Syrup – atir- will thicken once it comes to room temperature.Store simple syrup/atir in an air tight container, for at least 6 months.

Video

Notes

Tips

  • For the cheese, I used BelGioioso sliced mozzarella cheese but you can use any mozzarella cheese block as long as you cut it into large cubes and soak it in water to remove sodium. 
  • You can add ricotta to the mozzarella cheese to make an even more creamier filling, especially if you’re opting out of using ashta in the filling.
  • It’s a great idea to rub the phyllo dough with melted butter or ghee using your hands to get an extra golden color, help it cook more evenly, and get an extra crunch to it.
  • If you can’t find the shredded phyllo dough, also called Kataifi Shredded Dough, at a local market, you can order it online.
  • Thaw out the dough ahead of time if you buy it frozen.
  • You can shred the dough from its longer strands by pulling it apart by hand, using sanitized kitchen scissors to cut it up, or putting it in a food processor for a few quick rounds.
  • Drizzling the syrup when the kunafa is still hot helps the dough soak it all up and enhance the flavor. You can also warm the syrup a bit before use if it’s cooled which also helps the dough better absorb it.
  • Knafeh can be stored in the fridge for up to one week. You can eat it cold or warm it up in the oven to get that crunch back in the dough.

Nutrition

Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 736IU | Calcium: 177mg | Iron: 1mg
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About Lama

I'm Lama, welcome to my blog where you will find simple and diverse recipes your entire family will enjoy. I am honored to connect with you through the recipes I prepare!

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious! Everybody absolutely loved it! I always thought kunafa would be difficult to make, but it was no more difficult than baking a cake and didn’t take much time. Not to mention your instructions were very clear. Thanks l!

  2. 5 stars
    Omg! Thank you for this recipe ❤ I have been searching for the perfect kunafah recipe and i finally found it! You’re the best!!

  3. 5 stars
    I wish I can give her more than five stars .
    It was an easy recipe and so delicious,my family enjoyed it.
    Hight recommend 👌 👏 👍

    1. Hi Nawal! EXCELLENT!! So happy to hear you enjoyed this knafeh recipe. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review 🙂