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Cream Kunafa


Kunafa with cream is an iconic Middle Eastern dessert, made with shredded phyllo pastry dough, stuffed with cream, baked till golden brown, doused in an aromatic syrup and enjoyed warm for the best flavour. This kunafa recipe with cream is so easy to put together and stunning to serve for any celebrations. Video included. 
Cream Kunafa

My first cream kunafa experience was in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. I absolutely loved the warm, soft and creamy melt in the mouth delicious dessert. But when we travelled to Khobar, the kunafa there was so crispy and crunchy! I loved both but only much later in life, I learnt that there are different types of knafeh. From the texture to the filling to shape, you will find many varieties! June 2018 was the year I went crazy making Kunafa in my Yanbu kitchen. I had picked a fresh bag of kunafa dough aka kataif from the local bakery and there was no stopping me. I didn't even own an oven then. All my kunafeh were made on stove-top and I realized it is actually such a simple dessert! Thanks to Tasbih of Celobuttera for making me want to try it, I used the entire bag of 1.5kg shredded filo dough! So you can be assured this kunafa with cream recipe is loved by many. 

Cream and cheese Kunafa

What is Kunafa?

Gyaan time ๐Ÿ˜‰Kunafa is one of the most popular desserts of the Middle East countries and like all other Arabic recipes, there is more than one way to pronounce or spell it - I have come across kunafa, kunafeh, knafe or knafeh! This Arabic sweet dish is a wonderful combination of a crispy crust, creamy filling and aromatic syrup. The shapes range from the sandwiched crust to single-layer top crust, rolls to cones. UAE surprised me with the single-layer top crusted kunafa! I personally feel they lack the soul! ๐Ÿคฃ There are three components to any kind of Kunafa: 
  • Crust 
  • Filling
  • Syrup
The crust texture of a kunafa can vary from fine to rough. I read that the fine-textured ones are called knafeh na'ameh and these are popular in Lebanon. For the fine version, the shredded dough is processed to make it resemble crumbs. The rough-textured is called knafeh khesneh for which they use the shreds as is. The fillings range from cheese, cream, ashta, and even nuts. And finally, the syrup is usually flavoured with rose water and orange blossom water.

Kunafa with cream

I don't make desserts too often but when I do, it is grand and we eat all of it making sure to skip the next meal. ๐Ÿ˜‚As soon as Ramadan started, I was craving to "make" my kunafa now that I have an oven too. I was hunting for the fresh bakery kunafa dough but settled with a kilo of a frozen one. It stayed in the freezer until the fag end of Ramadan ๐Ÿ˜ You know you need to "feel" to make it and that "feel" came on a late-night after Taraweeh. I made it and we ate most of it for suhoor. ๐Ÿคค 

I made again for Eid for my friend who filmed me flipping and garnishing the kunafa you see in the video. I had the recipe ready to share here but then Ertugrul happened (still happening). ๐Ÿ˜„ Don't give up of me yet, I made again for our wedding anniversary only so that I can capture the steps and blog with detail. But F was working and was unavailable to film my actions that need both hands. Time to get a tripod! Did you notice the two hearts of roses? ๐Ÿฅฐ

Kunafa with cream recipe

I am glad I delayed publishing this recipe because I got to make the cream filling with three different creams - the hot question I always get asked - "which cream should we use?" I have tried with fresh cream, tin cream and the latest was heavy or whipping cream. All three tasted great! I tried adding mozzarella in the Eid day kunafa, though all loved it, I still prefer the cream version. Today, I am sharing our most favourite kind of Kunafa which is between fine and rough. ๐Ÿ˜ŽThe cream filling is almost my Layali Lubnan but creamier and the syrup has a hint of cardamom, rose water and orange blossom water! 

Cream Kunafa Ingredients

  • sugar: to make the syrup we need the regular white granulated sugar
  • full-fat milk: to make the cream filling we need full-fat milk. You may use fresh or milk powder milk.  
  • cream: you may use heavy or whipping cream or fresh cream or tin cream
  • semolina: helps to thicken the cream and so we don't have to use too much cornflour
  • cornflour: thickener
  • mastic: an edible gum which is highly recommended for its taste and aroma. I was asked if gondh can be used instead. I am not sure, will have to find and try it to know that. InshaAllah. If you can’t source, skip this.
  • kunafa dough: fresh or frozen. If you cannot source this shredded filo pastry dough in your region, there are ways to make it at home too. (link below)
  • ghee: use after melting
  • cardamom: use one whole
  • lemon juice: just a splash for the syrup
  • rose water: to flavour both syrup and cream
  • orange blossom water: to flavour both syrup and cream. Optional but recommended. Skip if you cannot source. 
  • dried rose petals: to garnish
  • pistachios: to garnish
pouring syrup over cream filled kunafa

How do you make Kunafa from scratch? 

Every time I share a kunafa picture on Insta, I get DMs asking how to make the dough as they cannot source it. I have never tried making the shredded phyllo pastry at home but my friend in Khobar did. I then watched a lot of Youtube videos and so sharing the one that I like and would try if I have to. I found this video to make kunafa dough at home that seemed to be very interesting and so might help you. 

How to make cream kunafa?

Watch the step by step recipe video of making kunafa with cream!

Prepare each component in the order - syrup, filling, dough. Prepare the syrup first so that it is completely cooled before you can use it. Prepare the cream filling and let that cool too. Lastly, prepare the dough and then assemble the kunafa in a greased pan. Bake only close to the serving time as this is best had warm. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot out of oven kunafa and let it rest for 10 minutes before you can flip to the serving platter. Watch the video to see how I flipped it. Pour more syrup and garnish with choice of nuts and rose petals if possible. Serve with more syrup in the side. 

Boil the syrup ingredients without stirring the mixture until all the sugar dissolves. Reduce the flame to low and let it simmer for 5 to 8 minutes only. Switch off and stir in the rose water and orange blossom water. Transfer the syrup into a mug to cool completely. The syrup may look very watery but it will thicken as it cools. You may make the syrup a day ahead and refrigerate.
aromatic sugar syrup

Whisk together milk, cream, semolina, sugar, cornflour until well combined without any visible lumps. Bring this to boil on a medium flame while whisking constantly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and burning. Whisk on low to medium flame for about 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Switch off and stir in the rose water and orange blossom water and keep aside. The filling will thicken more while cooling. This too can be made ahead and refrigerated.
kunafa cream filling recipe

Crush the dough using hands while frozen or use a mixie to do the job but make sure it is not super fine. We need texture. Pour 1/4 cup of melted ghee and use a long fork to rub the dough with ghee. Add the remaining ghee and make sure every strand of the dough is coated with ghee. You can switch to a rubber spatula and do the folding method to ensure even coating. Take time for this step as this is what makes a baked kunafa soft and crispy.
shredded filo pastry with ghee

Grease an 8-inch pan with ghee all over and the sides. Transfer 2/3 of the prepared dough on to the greased pan and spread it to cover the bottom. Use a small flat-bottomed mug or cup to help you with flattening the crust evenly. Spread the crust to the sides of the pan too like a wall around the pan. This will encase the cream filling that we will add. Make sure there are no cracks in the bottom and that it is even throughout. Don't go to the next step until your crust is firm and neat. 
Kunafa crust

Pour the prepared and cooled cream filling into the crust. Spread the filling evenly across the crust using the back of a spoon. 
Kunafa with cream-filled

Spread the remaining kunafa dough carefully and lightly all over the cream filling. Make sure no cream is visible.
kunafa top crust

Preheat the oven to 200℃ with the rack in level 2. Bake the kunafa for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top and sides of the kunafa are deep golden brown in colour and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. If you notice the sides brown and released much earlier, then reduce the temperature to 180℃ for the remaining time. 
kunafa with cream filled recipe

Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cooled sugar syrup in thin stream making sure to cover the entire surface. Reserve the remaining syrup for later. Let it rest in the pan itself for 10 minutes before you can flip. 
cold syrup over hot kunafa

Flip on to a serving platter. Keep the serving platter on the cake pan, hold with both hands and flip so that the cake pan is on top now. Remove the pan to reveal the beautifully baked kunafa. Garnish with dried rose petals, crushed pistachios. Use the reserved syrup to serve along with the warm kunafa. 
cream kunafa

How do you warm up Kunafa?

I had the same doubt and have tried all methods possible to get the best re-warm of leftovers. I find reheating in oven or stove-top is the best. Do not microwave as it makes the entire thing soft and loses all the crisp. You don't have to cover while reheating in oven or stove-top. I slide back the leftovers into the same cake pan and reheat over low flame over a flat pan or heat diffuser for just 5 to 8 minutes.

Kunafa





Cream Kunafa

Kunafa with Cream Recipe 

Yields one 8inch kunafa

INGREDIENTS

For the Aromatic Sugar Syrup:
1 cup of sugar 
1/2 cup water
1 cardamom
a squeeze of lemon 
1/4 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water

For the Knafeh Cream Filling:
1 cup full-fat milk 
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream or fresh cream or tin cream
1 tablespoon semolina
1 tablespoon sugar 
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 mastic bead, crushed (optional but recommended)
1/2 teaspoon rose water
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water

For the Kunafa dough:
250gms frozen kunafa dough (If using fresh, freeze overnight to make it easy) 
1/2 cup melted ghee
more ghee to grease the pan 

For garnish
dried rose petals
crushed pistachios

METHOD

Prepare the sugar syrup:
  1. Add the sugar, water, lemon juice and cardamom in a deep saucepan and bring to boil. Do not stir this at any point. Let it boil until all the sugar dissolves. 
  2. Reduce the flame to low and let it simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. 
  3. Switch off and stir in the rose water and orange blossom water
  4. Transfer the syrup into a mug to cool completely 
    • You may make this a day ahead and refrigerate
Prepare the Cream filling:
  1. Whisk together milk, cream, semolina, sugar, cornflour until well combined without any visible lumps.
  2. Bring this to boil on a medium flame while whisking constantly to prevent the cream from sticking to the bottom and getting burnt. 
  3. Whisk on low to medium flame for about 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken (it will thicken more while cooling)
  4. Switch off and stir in the rose water and orange blossom water and keep aside. 
    • You may make this ahead and refrigerate. 
Prepare the Kunafa Crust:
  1. Crush the dough using hands while frozen or use a mixie to do the job but make sure it is not super fine. We need texture. 
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of melted ghee and use a long fork or gloves to rub the dough with ghee. Add the remaining ghee and make sure every strand of the dough is coated with ghee. You can switch to a rubber spatula and do the folding method to ensure even coating. Take time for this step as this is what makes a baked kunafa soft and crispy.
  3. Grease an 8-inch pan with ghee all over and the sides 
  4. Transfer 2/3 of the prepared dough on to the greased pan and spread it to cover the bottom. Use a small flat-bottomed mug or cup to help you with flattening the crust evenly. Spread the crust to the sides of the pan too like a wall around the pan. This will encase the cream filling that we will add. Make sure there are no cracks in the bottom and that it is even throughout. Don't go to the next step until your crust is firm and neat. 
  5. Pour the prepared cream filling into the crust. Spread the filling evenly across the crust using the back of a spoon. 
  6. Spread the remaining kunafa dough carefully and lightly all over the cream filling. Make sure no cream is visible.
  7. Use the spoon to lightly press down around the edge to seal the crust.
Bake the Kunafa with cream:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200℃ with the rack in level 2
  2. Bake the kunafa for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top and sides of the kunafa are deep golden brown in colour and has pulled away from the sides of the pan. If you notice the sides brown and released much earlier, then reduce the temperature to 180℃ for the remaining time. 
  3. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cooled sugar syrup in thin stream making sure to cover the entire surface. Reserve the remaining syrup for later.
  4. Let it rest in the pan itself for 10 minutes
  5. Flip on to a serving platter. Keep the serving platter on the cake pan, hold with both hands and flip so that the cake pan is on top now. Remove the pan to reveal the beautifully baked kunafa. 
  6. Garnish with dried rose petals, crushed pistachios. 
Serve Kunafa warm:
  1. Use the reserved syrup to serve along with the warm kunafa. 
  2. Cut the kunafa using the knifepoint and stab across till the edge and repeat the other side and use a cake server to remove the cut piece and serve
  3. Store any leftover covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. 
  4. Reheat on stove-top on a flat pan. Do not microwave. 
knafeh na'ameh

TRIED THIS RECIPE? 

I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchai so that I can see your creations!

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