Irene's Middle Eastern Knafeh with Orange Blossom Syrup

October 16, 2015
5 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

I was fortunate enough to learn this recipe from a wonderful Lebanese woman named Irene. This delicious dessert is made of shredded phyllo soaked in butter with a creamy cheese center and a drizzling of orange blossom simple syrup. It's a sweet enjoyed all over the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and even northern Egypt. Traditionally, the cheese used is nabulsi, a soft white cheese, but Irene substitutes mozzarella because it's much easier to find! —Anna Francese Gass

What You'll Need
  • For the pastry:
  • 1 pound kataifi, shredded phyllo dough
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella
  • For the orange blossom syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  1. For the pastry:
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the kataifi in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over top. Work the butter through the threads until all of the Kataifi is coated and moist. Be sure to pull the threads apart as you work.
  3. Remove half of the kataifi to another bowl.
  4. Grease a 9- by 13-inch glass dish and add half of the kataifi. Spread it so that it covers the bottom.
  5. Distribute the mozzarella over the kataifi to create an even layer of cheese.
  6. Spread the heavy cream over the mozzarella carefully to create a third layer.
  7. Cover the cheese and heavy cream with the other half of the Kataifi.
  8. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is a crisp, golden, brown.
  9. Remove from oven and drizzle the syrup over the top of the dessert.
  10. Serve immediately.
  1. For the orange blossom syrup:
  2. In small saucepan, heat sugar and water over low heat until sugar is fully dissolved and liquid begins to thicken, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add orange blossom water. Mix to incorporate.

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12 Reviews

Franca March 30, 2021
Has anyone actually made this version? I have made many versions with different cheeses but never one with whipped cream. I would love to hear comments on this one. :)
Margalit L. May 25, 2020
Can this be frozen or can parts be made ahead?
Margalit L. May 25, 2020
Can this be frozen or can parts be made ahead?
Rita C. May 10, 2018
Where did you buy Kataifi?
Anna F. May 12, 2018
At a Middle Eastern market in Westchester, NY called Yaranoush.
Lathika G. December 2, 2016
My favourite Middle Eastern pastry - Knaafa! We used to buy a big batch fresh from the local bakery on weekends when we lived in Kuwait. Can't wait to try this recipe.
Anna F. December 3, 2016
I hope you love it!
Laura Z. May 15, 2016
I never knew this recipe could be so easy! Definitely goin to try this! Thanks for the recipe!
Anna F. May 16, 2016
so simple! let me know how it goes!
Nosherium May 15, 2016
This brings me back to living in Israel, when a dedicated knafeh shop opened nearby... so much time and so many calories were spent there!
Anna F. May 16, 2016
wow, love hearing this. i hope you try the recipe. thanks!!
Luciana D. May 13, 2016
delicious and so easy!