Golden brown crust of stringy filo pastry?deliciously cheesy and creamy filling to smooth over every bite? Hints of earthy, fragrant rose water syrup and bursts of pistachio crumble?
Of course… knafeh. Need I say more?
1 x 360g packet chilled Kataifi pastry
250g butter, softened
750g fresh mozzarella cheese [see note below]
375g ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp sugar
For the syrup:
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp citric acid
2 drops concentrated rosewater (or a teaspoon of the bottled stuff)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Grease a 25 cm (10 inch) spring form, or aluminium pan.
Place the Kataifi pastry in a large bowl and tear to break up the shreds.
Half way through the tearing process, begin to rub butter between your hands, then into the Kataifi pastry.
Continue adding butter and shredding until the pastry is fairly well torn.
Take small handfuls of the pastry and line the bottom of the tray with it. It’s important not to make the bottom layer thick, because it will not crisp up.
Note: using a block of fresh mozzarella is better than buying the pre-grated stuff. The pre-grated cheese have anti caking agents in them and the cheesy stretch just won’t be the same.
Grate the mozzarella into a bowl, add the sugar and vanilla.
Stir to combine.
Add the ricotta cheese to the haloumi mixture and stir to combine.
Evenly spread out the cheese filling over the Kataifi base.
Add the remaining buttered Kataifi pastry on top. This layer should be thicker than the bottom layer.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for one hour, or until golden brown.
I wouldn’t advise to bake the knaafeh for more than an hour, if the top hasn’t coloured, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
While the knaafeh bakes, prepare the rosewater syrup.
Add the sugar and water into a non-stick saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium, add in the citric acid and concentrated rose water.
Gently boil for 3 – 5 minutes, then pour into a milk mug to cool.
Place in the fridge until the knaafeh comes out of the oven.
While the knaafeh is hot (noting that the syrup must be cool), pour over at least half the syrup mixture, and leave the knaafeh to cool slightly.
I prefer to serve the left over syrup and knaafeh together in case people want to add some more.
Garnish with pistachios and serve with a hot cuppa.