Knafeh (Syrup-soaked Cheese Pastry)
Bird's nest-like phyllo dough is layered with fresh cheese and doused in amber-hued syrup in this Middle Eastern pastry.
Yield: serves 10-20
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. red food coloring, optional
- 1⁄2 cup whole milk
- 3 tbsp. semolina
- 1 lb. whole-milk ricotta
- 1 lb. kataif (shredded phyllo dough), crumbled
- 2 cups unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
- 1⁄4 cup minced pistachios
- Boil sugar and 1⁄2 cup water in a 2-qt. saucepan; cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Stir in juice and food coloring; set syrup aside. Boil milk and semolina in a 1-qt. saucepan; cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in ricotta; set mixture aside.
- Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" baking dish. Toss kataif and butter in a bowl until butter is absorbed; press half into the bottom of the dish. Spread ricotta mixture evenly over kataif; top with remaining kataif. Press layers firmly together. Bake until crisp and golden, 1-1 1⁄2 hours. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer cake to a serving platter. Spoon syrup over the top and sprinkle with pistachios.