Study Snacks: Kunafa

Did you know that nearly one-third of Florida Tech’s on-campus students are from outside the United States, representing more than 100 nations? To give our international students a taste of home, the Panther Dining cafeteria regularly features food from around the world.

To bring that same joy of diversity to our Study Snacks series, we are featuring dishes that celebrate Florida Tech’s international students. Our second recipe in this series is also our only dessert – Kunafa. Also spelled Kanafeh or Knafeh, this Middle Eastern syrup-soaked pastry is an indulgent, dreamy treat.

A mix between a cheese danish and baklava, Kunafa originated in regions that belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The sweet cream combined with the nutty semolina and the floral rose syrup creates a dessert that is both exotic and comforting. Some versions contain cheese instead of cream, and substitute orange blossom for the rose water; others top the pastry with crushed pistachios for a satisfying textural contrast. Prepare the simple syrup while the pastry is baking. The following recipe yields two 9×13 cake pans.

Pastry Ingredients

  • 2 quarts heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup semolina flour
  • 1-16 oz. package shredded phyllo dough
  • ½ lb. melted butter

    Pastry Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Place the phyllo in a large bowl and separate with your hands.
    3. Add melted butter and toss to completely coat the dough.
    4. Place the cream and sugar into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. 5. Whisk in the semolina and stir until thick, remove from heat and hold.
    5. Press ½- ¾ of the dough firmly into the bottom of two 9×13 cake pans.
    6. Divide the cream mixture between the two pans and spread evenly over the phyllo.
    7. Top with the remaining phyllo and gently press to seal the top.
    8. Place in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and filling is set.
    9. Remove from oven and drizzle with the simple syrup.
    10. Cool and cut into serving size pieces.

    Simple Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • A couple of drops of rose water

    Simple Syrup Directions

    1. Place sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over medium high heat; bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce heat and simmer a few minutes until it reaches a thin syrupy consistency.
    3. Remove from heat and add the rose water.
    4. Cool and hold until Kunafa comes out of the oven.

    Note: Shredded phyllo and rose water can be found in most Middle Eastern & Mediterranean markets.

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