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!
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.
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.