The very classic Knefeh is one of the absolute classics among the Levantine desserts. In Lebanon, they even squeeze Knefeh into their bread as a sandwich - which they then serve to go for breakfast! No joke! I know what I'm talking about ... So the category "dessert" can be interpreted very broadly here. I think you don't necessarily have to put the good stuff in bread every time to have it in handy form. You can also just whip up Knefeh Minis. That's just as easy as the big version, passes as a sweet finger food and can be prepared quite easily in the muffin tin.
Crispy little nests
Basically, the Knefeh Minis are very easy and quick. However, you need an ingredient that you might not be able to buy in the supermarket around the corner. I mean these ultra thin dough threads called Kadaif or Kadaifi. These are used not only in the Levant but throughout the Arab, Turkish as well as Greek regions. By the way, the nickname of the threads is angel hair. So you can get it in a really well-stocked supermarket, online, or from a Lebanese, etc. Even though you could make the Knefeh minis with, say, puff pastry (yes, that's a tip - not particularly original, but better than nothing!), it's absolutely worth looking out for Kadaifi.
You then just shred the strands a bit, brush them with butter and off you go into the muffin tin. The next layer is a super quick semolina pudding with rose and orange blossom water. What always irritates a lot of people with Knefeh who don't know it yet: The cheese! Yes, cheese in dessert is really a damn good idea! In Lebanon, they use Akawi cheese for this. A white cheese that is somewhat similar to mozzarella - only Akawi is more intense. Therefore, you can really go for mozzarella without a second thought. I have used for the Knefeh Minis to small mozzarella balls - but pay attention here to a good quality!
So you have fine threads of dough with butter as a base, then the creamy semolina pudding and the cheese. Then everything goes together in the oven and comes out as a crispy little glory. Since the pudding isn't that sweet (the cheese isn't anyway), you then simply baste the Knefeh Minis with some honey that you've previously flavored with orange blossom water. Serve the Knefeh Minis still warm - this way they are nice and crispy and the cheese still has the perfect consistency. Enjoy your meal!
Recipe for Knefeh Minis with pistachios
- Muffin tin
For the pudding
For the nests
- 30 g Butter
- 60 g Kadaifi
- 6 small balls of mozzarella
- 75 ml Honey
- 1 TSP Orange blossom water
- 2 TABLESPOON chopped pistachios
- Mix all the ingredients for the pudding together, bring to the boil and allow to thicken to a creamy pudding for about 5 minutes while stirring.
- Preheat the oven to approx. 180 °C.
- Melt butter and pluck apart kadaifi.
- Brush kadaifi with butter and press into the troughs of a muffin tin, creating small nests.
- Drain the mozzarella.
- Fill nests with a spoonful of pudding and press a ball of mini mozzarella into each.
- Bake Knefeh Minis in the oven for about 20 minutes.
- Mix honey with orange blossom water.
- Carefully remove Knefeh Minis from muffin tin, serve with chopped pistachios and flavored honey.