Sweet Cheese Pastry / Kunefe

Künefe 1

Kunefe originates from Lebanon. Many soldiers were sent to Yemen near to the end of the Ottoman Empire to end some riots in the area.  Yemen is a country located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. On the way back some soldiers stayed in Lebanon for some time learning this desert. Now it is a treat attributed to cities in Eastern Turkey. Most famous one is Hatay. Hatay is famous for having three different holy places within the same street, it is an antique city well worth a visit one day.

The cheese is best when from Hatay, but it would be impossible to do if we limit ourselves to this so any cheese that is fresh, that is almost like milk itself and that has as little salt as possible will do. For those in Turkey “dil peyniri” sherred cheese will do.

Kunefe prep class

You need to prepare the syrup first. In the Turkish desserts that use syrup keep in mind that either the syrup or the dessert has to be cold and the other warm or vise versa. They both shouldn’t be at the same warmth or else the syrup will not be soaked up.

Typically this dessert is prepared on the stove in little plates. However this recipe works just as fine in the oven. It is upto you to choose your method.


Kunefe served

Serving this dessert as warm as possible will be better for the taste. If you have to serve after it cools make sure to heat it up first. It is better not to keep it longer than a day or two or else it will get too stiff because of the cheese.

Sweet Cheese Pastry / Kunefe
Print Recipe
A famous dessert from the antique city of Hatay
10 servings
10 servings
Sweet Cheese Pastry / Kunefe
Print Recipe
A famous dessert from the antique city of Hatay
10 servings
10 servings
Servings: servings
  1. Start with preparing the syrup as it needs to cool.
  2. Prepare the syrup by putting the water and sugar in a small pot. Mixing occasionally will be enough.
  3. When the water boils add; a quarter of a lemon's juice. After 10 minutes close the heat and set aside to cool.
  1. Spread the kadayif /phyllo threads with your fingers. Then cut to 1 cm thick pieces.
  2. Melt the butter.
  3. Spread the butter in your oven tray.
  4. Also add a table spoon of molasses all around.
  5. Sprinkle half of the kadayif on your over tray.
  6. Press down the kadayif with the palm of your hand or with the back of a glass or a bowl.
  7. Sprinkle with some butter.
  8. Grate the cheese and spread it on top of the kadayif that you have pressed down. Leave about a centimeter in the corners without cheese, so they don't come out when cooked.
  9. On top spread the remaining kadayif. Again press down.
  10. On top pour the remaining butter and the second table spoon of molasses.
  11. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 celcius degrees until brownish on top and bottom. Cooks very quickly about 15-20 degrees.
  12. As soon as you take the künefe (now we call it) out of the oven pour the syrup gently all over. Serve warm.
  13. A table spoon of kaymak (cloathed cream) or a vanilla ice cream will be a perfect companion. Also sprinkle some grounded pistachhio if available.
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2 comments on “Sweet Cheese Pastry / Kunefe
  1. kathleen dvorak says:

    Can this be made a few hours ahead to take to a party–and briefly reheated to serve warm? If so, I would think the syrup shouldn’t be poured over until it is reheated. Can it tolerate the reheating, though? Or can it be assembled and covered with a dry and a damp towel, transported and baked just in time to serve?

    • Nese Yurtcu says:

      Unfortunately it is never the same when reheated as the cheese gets stiff. Of course you can assemble, transport and bake just in time to serve. Why don’t you try the recipe for kadayif. Kadayif is prepared with almost the same material. Doesn’t have to be served hot and will make a good party success too. Have a great time in the party.

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