I am a firm believer in the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, especially when it comes to food. Most of the time, classics are classics, and they are perfect the way they are, so there is no need to try to change them. But every once in a while, a genius twist or shortcut makes its way to our hearts and there is no denying how great they are. This recipe, knafeh kazabeh, or fake knafeh, is one of those great shortcuts that are perfect for days you are craving knafeh but do not have the dough or the time. It is also a great way to use up stale toast!
Now, I know that toast and mozzarella cheese in a dessert sound strange but, trust me, once you’ve followed all the steps, you’ll never know either of them were in this! It isn’t a substitute for actual knafeh, because real knafeh is a legendary dessert that originated in Nablus and is made with shredded phyllo dough and there is nothing like it, but this a definitely a delicious and easy dessert.
The addition of the pistachios in the crust makes it extra crispy and nutty, which is the perfect balance to the creamy filling. Ishta is a cream easily found in Middle Eastern supermarkets, and the tinned version is the best for this recipe, but if you can’t find it, extra thick double cream is a good substitute. Make sure you use the filling immediately after making so that it doesn’t set before you use it, making it difficult to pour over the base. This recipe is super easy to make, but I find the hardest part is waiting for it to cool down enough to set so that you can flip it over onto a serving platter. So, if you’re like me and don’t have any patience, you can serve it a few minutes out of the oven. Be warned though, that it will still be gooey so your piece may not look perfect but, don’t worry, it will taste absolutely amazing! Serve this with a cup of mint tea or coffee and prepare to fall in love with this creamy and crunchy dessert.
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups sugar
Squeeze of lemon
600 g toast
1 cup pistachios, finely chopped
¾ cup butter, melted
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp flour
1 cup ishta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 cup simple syrup (or to taste)
½ cup pistachios, finely chopped
- First, make the syrup. In a small pot, add the water and sugar and place on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, bring to a boil, and then lower the heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon, boil for a minute and remove from heat. Set aside to use when at room temperature.
- To make the crust, cut off the sides of the toast and pulse in a food processor until it becomes crumbs. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor.
- Place the toast crumbs in a large mixing bowl and add in the pistachios and toss so that the pistachios are mixed in well. Add the melted butter and toss, making sure the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.
- To make the filling, place the milk, sugar, cornflour and flour in a pot and whisk together until everything is combined well. Do not turn on the heat yet.
- Once everything is mixed together and there are no lumps, turn on the heat at medium and whisk continuously until it comes to the boil and thickens. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and let bubble for a minute. Add in the ishta, mozzarella cheese and orange blossom water. Mix until the cheese is melted.
- In a greased round 10-inch baking pan, sprinkle half of the crust mixture on the bottom and gently press, making sure you make an even layer.
- Pour the warm filling and then sprinkle the rest of the crust mixture over the filling, making an even layer and covering all the filling.
- Bake at 180 C for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and invert on a serving platter once warm. Drizzle with simple syrup and pistachios and serve.
Recipe from >>> manalalalem