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Creamy Kanafeh Dessert Recipe

Kanafeh is a creamy, rich Middle Eastern dessert made with shredded phyllo and two cheeses. A sweet syrup of orange blossom water, lemon juice and a pinch of saffron is poured over the warm kanafeh, followed by a sprinkling of pistachios. Take my word, this is one special dessert!

Prep: 20 minutes | Cook: 1 hour | Serves: 10-12

Creamy Kanafeh Dessert

Creamy Kanafeh Dessert


  • 1 8 ounce roll of phyllo sheets, shredded (see photo below)
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 pound of Middle Eastern sweet cheese, ricotta, or mascarpone (my preference), softened to room temperature
  • 1 pound of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water, or an orange liqueur such as Cointreau
  • 1/8 teaspoon (pinch) of saffron
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, chopped


Shred Phyllo Sheet Roll

Shred Phyllo Sheet Roll

  1. Defrost phyllo in its original packaging in refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Keeping phyllo sheets in roll, slice phyllo rounds as thin as possible. Place shredded phyllo in a large bowl and separate strands.
  3. Melt butter and allow to cool a bit. Pour over shredded phyllo and work phyllo and butter with fingers until phyllo is completely coated. Keep separating phyllo strands as best you can while working in the butter.
  4. In a deep dish pie plate, 10-inch diameter, 2-inches deep, press half of the butter-coated shredded phyllo. Combine the cheeses and spoon cheese mixture over phyllo in pie plate, pressing cheese down gently. Gently press the remaining phyllo into the cheese. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°F then increase heat to 425°F for 15 minutes.
  5. While kanafeh is baking, in a medium saucepan combin sugar and water. Stirring, bring mixture to boil. Continue boiling and stirring until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, orange blossom water, and saffron.
  6. After kanafeh has been removed from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides to loosen, then turn out onto serving plate. Kanafeh is served warm. Just before serving, pour syrup over kanafeh and top with nuts. Store leftover kanafeh in refrigerator and rewarm before serving.

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