Introduction: Traditional Kunafa- on a Stovetop!
Kunafa is such a traditional Lebanese (and Arabian) dessert. It is quite a routine for people to order Kunafa for the whole family as a breakfast.
Cheesy, crumbly, sweet with a touch of love, what is better out there :D ?!
Not only that, but with a couple of ingredients, and a stove, you can make it the traditional way, and have the magical and tender comfort of your favorite Kunafa, at home.
•Aluminium or Copper baking tray, or cake tin which is what I used ( 40 cm diameter)
•Aluminium tray for serving, wider than the baking tin (50 cm)
•Mitten or kitchen towel
•Kitchen towels or kitchen paper
Step 1: Preparing the Cheese
Cheese you’ll need:
- Akkawi Tchiki cheese (300 grams)
- Shelal or Mushalala (500 grams)
I’ve seen people make it using Mozarella or Halloumi cheese- but we’re making it all traditional here!
These types of cheese are VERY salty. So you have to soak them and drain them multiple times to get the salt out. A minimum of 6 hours is needed, draining them and replacing it with fresh water each 2 hours. What I personally did is soak them overnight (about 9 hours), drained the water, ran them under cold water with a GENTLE massage to the cheese (oh la la) soaked them again for 2 hours and I was done. You can always taste the cheese and check if there’s any saltiness left.
Step 2: Working the Cheese
After the cheese is all set, we now have to break it all up to small pieces, and that is by vigorously squeezing the cheese, it should look like a pureed mess. Like this.
Step 3: Flavoring the Cheese Mess
First we add 5 TBSP (50 g) Farki (or Kunafa Na’ame) which although some recipes tell you to make it at home, it requires professional tools and a very high temperature to be done, and come on, who has time for that ! :D
You should break down any lumps of the Farki.
Then add 2 TBSP of rose water.
And finally, Mastik, which is a very flavorful plant resin, half a TSP of it (3g) will go a long way, with 1 TBSP (10 g) sugar. Place them in a paper big enough to hold their spread, and crush them using a rolling pin until they’re a fine powder.
Incorporate all together.
Step 4: Preparing Your Baking Tray
Plop 1 TBSP of solid Ghee (15g) on to your baking tray, you can wait for it to come to room temperature then brush it but... I just heated it up and brushed the tray, you know, for time😜
Don’t forget to brush the sides too!
Step 5: The Sugar Syrup
One of the most important elements of a Kunafa! Not only is it used for serving, but put on the Kunafa right after it is out of the oven, for it will soak it all up!
To prepare this scented sugar syrup you will combine:
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 1 cup (230 g) water
- one slice of lemon peel cut lengthwise
Place in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir after about 2 minutes, but gently! And just a little, just to get all the sugar dissolved. The risk here is crystallization of sugar, which nobody wants.
Step 6: Bring to a Boil
Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes (set a timer!! You do not want caramel here) and DO NOT STIR.
Turn off the heat and add 1 TBSP (10g) of rose water.
Set in a heat-resistant bowl to cool down
Step 7: Assembly
Measure 6 cups (600g) of Farki and plop it on to your baking tray, scavenge for any lumps of Farki and break them apart with your fingertips.
Smooth it out as evenly as possible throughout the tray, then press it all down either using your palm and fingers or, as I did, using the bottom of a cup, note that there should be about 3/4 of a cm of Farki thickness.
Then poke a hole in the center of the tray, and that is to facilitate air’s exit from below while on heat.
Step 8: Lining the Cheese
Firstly, save third of your cheese mixture, we’ll add it later, but for now, plop out the cheese mixture AROUND the hole we made, and away from the sides of the tray, as done below. And that is to have better control over the spreading of cheese.
Step 9: Set Over the Stove-top
Half of it should be set over the stove over low-medium heat and immediately start rotating using a mitten in one hand and a tong in another. Do not leave the tray as a side might burn fast. As it comes to temperature the cheese will start to melt, and as it does, it will release A LOT of moisture, which you will gently pat down with a kitchen towel or kitchen paper to get out all the moisture, you will get out more than you think, so work it out while rotating.
Step 10: Keep It Moving!
after few minutes, add a bit of Farki to cover the hole, then add the rest of the cheese, and pat it again and again, rotating the tray constantly until:
Step 11: Finishing It Up
The indicator of the doneness of your Kunafi is the color of the edges, keep a close eye! The color of the edge is the same color as the bottom!
When you indicate its doneness (took me around 15 minutes) turn off the heat and let it set for few minutes.
Step 12: Meanwhile
Add a TBSP of Ghee to your serving tray and brush it all around the place where the Kunafi will be placed in (just eyeball it like below).
Step 13: Transferring
Place the serving tray on top of the baking one and FLIP like you would a cake for example. Make a drum out of the baking tray then remove it. Immediately scoop 3/4 cup of the scented sugar syrup (165g) and even it out on the Kunafi.
Grind some pistachios and place them as garnish on top, anddddd...viola !! You have your traditional tasty cheesy sugary Kunafi, you’re welcome :D
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Dessert Speed Challenge
2 years ago
Mmm...looks yummy! :)
2 years ago
Kunafa is such a staple in Lebanese desserts which I crave all the time, yet I find it frightening to try to make it at home in fear of messing it up completely.. This recipe seems very promising though! I will give it a try very soon!
2 years ago
Thank you for sharing this recipe - I've never heard of this, but it sounds tasty! : )