Knafeh is a labor of love, best served fresh out of the oven. The contrast of crispy kataifi against stretchy cheese all soaked in syrup is so sublime, that to tinker with it feels almost sacrilegious. And yet, “knafeh cookies” are becoming a fad across the Arab world, found in stores and made at home with as many recipes as there are cooks. Most seem to take inspiration from no-bake chocolate cookies with a flavor far removed from traditional knafeh. This version puts a slightly different twist on these cookies with floral notes that hark back to the original dessert and an ingredient choice which leaves no question upon seeing their color that it’s the holiday season.
Note: if you have an aversion to floral waters or can’t find them, you can replace both with 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract. —Reem Kassis
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- makes 16 cookies
(225g) frozen kataifi
stick butter, melted
white chocolate. Chopped (or 2 cups white chocolate chips)
rose water (optional)
orange blossom water (optional)
- decoration (optional)
chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips (about ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) melted
(7g) freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries, coarsely crushed (or dried rose petals)
(30g) raw pistachios (use Turkish or Sicilian for a brighter green color), finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the kataifi from the freezer. Use a sharp knife to chop the frozen kataifi into roughly ½-inch-long shreds.
- Melt the butter in a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add the kataifi and salt, stirring well to break up large chunks and evenly coat in the butter. Continue stirring as it toasts until the kataifi is ae a deep golden-brown color and has a toasty smell, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate: Place about two thirds of the chocolate in a glass bowl over a double boiler, or in the microwave at 15 second increments, until most of the chocolate has melted. Stir, off the heat, until fully melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir well. Return to double boiler, or microwave in 5 second increments, until just melted.
- Working quickly, add the melted chocolate and floral waters if using to the toasted kataifi and stir until fully combined.
- Using a medium (2 to 3 tablespoon) scoop, measure out 12 – 15 densely packed round scoops onto the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them, and flatten into round cookie shapes.
- If you are using the white chocolate for garnish, place the melted chocolate in a small plastic bag with the tip snipped off. Drizzle over the cookies in any desired pattern. Sprinkle with pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries. Repeat until all the cookies are done. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set. Cookies can be served cold or at room temperature.
- Cookies will keep at room temperature for 2 – 3 days and up to a week if refrigerated.