Here I am again with one of my Middle Eastern ingredients – knafeh. Knafeh is a wonderful ingredient: thin supple white threads that transform into a precious golden crunch in the oven and is one of the main components in various Arabic dessert recipes, along with rose water, pistachios & company.
One of my sweet-tooth favourites that I’ve been loving for years is “knafeh bil jibne” which means something like “cheese knafeh” (jibne = cheese). It is a wonderful scrumptious sinful dessert made of cheese (one with a very mild taste like mozzarella or ricotta for instance) stuffed in between a bottom and upper layer of knafeh generously rolled in melted butter and then finished with a blessing of syrup- the infamous syrup that so many Middle Eastern sweets swim in.
Above: what knafeh looks like raw. Below: knafeh bil jibne before going into the oven
Below: knafeh bil jibne just out of the oven
Below: photo taken on the side just to show what the inside looks like
Knafeh (you can find this in Middle Eastern food shops)
Mozzarella (small individual round balls)
Pistachios, crushed (optional)
Candied fruit, diced (optional)
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 180C. In a deep pan, place the knafeh that you will be using and cover it with melted butter. Make sure all the knafeh is well rolled into the butter- you almost need to massage it with the butter. Then, bring your mozzarella balls and roll strands of knafeh around it until it turns out looking like a ball of knitting yarn. Place the knafeh balls in a buttered pan and bake in oven for about 15mins. I’d strongly recommend that as of 10mins, check your oven as knafeh can sometimes be unpredictable and burn quite fast! You’ll know it’s ready when it becomes of a beautiful luminous golden colour. While it’s in the oven, prepare the syrup: place equal amounts of sugar and water and boil for a good 10 mins (until it’s texture is rather thick). At the end, add some rose water to the syrup. When the knafeh bil jibne is out of the oven, immediately pour syrup (be very generous here, it needs a lot of syrup) on each ball. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios and decorate with a piece of candied fruit (optional).