Kanafeh, also spelled Kenafeh or knafeh (Arabic: كنافة ) is a Palestinian dessert made of finely shredded phyllo dough, melted cheese, and sugar syrup. Recipes for kanafeh have been recorded in Arab cookbooks since the middle ages. The city of Nablus on the West Bank is renowned for its Kanafeh. The picture above shows Suad pouring the syrup over the baked kanafeh. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them)
1 pound shredded phyllo (fillo) dough
1 cup vegetable oil (canola)
1 pound curd cheese (unsalted mozzarella)
1/2 cup whole almonds
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blanch the almonds by pouring boiling water over them and letting them stand for 10 minutes. Put the phyllo dough in a food processor to cut the long strands into short strands. This may need to be done in several batches depending on the capacity of the food processor. Add the oil to the phyllo dough and mix by hand until the oil is evenly distributed. Shred the curd cheese in the food processor using the shredder disk. By this time, the skin of the almonds should come off easily by squeezing them between the fingers.
Arrange the almonds in a nice pattern on a pan for deep-dish pizza. Add shredded phyllo first on top of the almonds so that they will not move, and then continue to cover all the dish using only three quarters of the total phyllo dough. Press the phyllo dough all around, and cover uniformly with the shredded cheese. Press the cheese and cover the cheese with the remaining one quarter of the shredded phyllo dough. Covering the cheese keeps it from burning during baking.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the phyllo has a rich brown color. At this point, run a knife along the side of the pan, and shake the pan to make sure that the bottom slides back and forth. This check is important because you want to make sure that the whole kanafeh can be turned over unto a plate easily without some portion sticking to the pan.
While the kanafeh bakes, bring the water, sugar and cinnamon to a boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat under the syrup, add the lemon juice, and stir. Once the kanafeh has baked, place a serving dish on top of the baking pan and quickly invert them both so that the kanafeh ends upside down on the dish. Wear oven mitts to avoid getting burned during this maneuver. Add the syrup over the baked kanafeh and let it rest for five minutes so that all the liquid is absorbed. This dessert is usually served warm.