Peynirli Künefe

A sweet delicious dessert packed with sweet cheese, pistachios and a crunchy base and top layer! A Mediterranean classic dessert.

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Okay so I’ll admit that way before I started learning about Mediterranean cooking, the idea of cheese in a dessert (besides marscapone) didn’t sound so appetizing to me. It wasn’t until a friend took us out for a couple of rounds of künefe, that I finally wised up to discover just how delicious this combination is.

The cheese that used, is not salty and savory like what you use in pizza or pasta. It’s thick like ricotta in some variations while in others it has the flavor of ricotta with the texture of mozzerella.

Filled generously with pistachios and covered with a sugar syrup it’s actually not too sweet. It’s hits the palate as a perfectly balanced dessert.

At my favorite künefe place, they serve it with clotted cream, fresh fruit and shot glasses of milk. It’s a beautiful thing and worth experiencing at least once in your life. But once you try it, once will never be enough.

Although making künefe is an art, it is possible to make it at home. The biggest challenge may be acquiring the ingredients but once you’ve jumped over that hurdle then the rest will seem like a breeze.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 c kadayıf (made from shredded yufka or phyllo dough. NOTE: buy pre-prepared)
  • 2 c sugar water (equal parts sugar and water, simmered on low heat to form a thick syrup)
  • 2 c unsalted pistachios (shelled & chopped)
  • 3 c Urfa peynir (substitute a moist, crumbly ricotta cheese)
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 4 TBSP butter (for greasing the pans)

Preparation:

Grease two 12 inch round shallow pans with 2 TBSP of butter each.

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Fill one of the pans with 3 cups of the kadayif. Press down gently.

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Sprinkle the chopped pistachios evenly over the kadayif.

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Then evenly crumble the cheese on top of the pistachios.

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Cover with the remaining 3 cups of kadayif and press down gently.

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Then drizzle the oil on top.

Cook the künefe over an open flame until it is light brown on the bottom. Remove the künefe from the heat. Using the other pan, cover the künefe and flip into the other pan so that the browned side is facing up.

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Cook until the other side is light brown. Pour over the sugar water and let simmer for a few seconds. Then remove the pan from the heat.

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Serve & enjoy warm with some clotted cream.

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Afiyet Olsun!

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