Künefe (Classic Recipe)

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This is a classic dessert, which must be eaten warm immediately after it comes out of the oven. In Turkey, restaurants ask you to place your künefe order with the main course so the kitchen has plenty of time to prepare it before it is time to have the desert. 

           

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 pound shredded filo dough
  • 8 oz sweet künefe cheese sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores or fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • 3.5 oz butter
  • 1 cup finely ground pistachio nuts


DIRECTIONS:

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  1. To prepare the syrup, pour the water into a pot, add the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool.
  2. It is important to use clarified butter for the best künefe. You can turn regular butter into clarified butter easily by simmering the butter in a sauce pan at low heat for about 20 minutes. The milk solids separate from the fat and rise to the surface. They can then be collected with a spoon and discarded.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  4. Cut the shredded dough into 1/4 inch (~ 1/2 cm) long pieces using kitchen scissors. Use your fingers to mix the shredded dough with the clarified butter in a bowl.
  5. Spread half of the shredded dough on a 9 inch baking pan.
  6. Spread the cheese mixture.
  7. Finish it off by spreading the remaining shredded dough on the cheese mixture. Gently press on the künefe with your hands.
  8. Bake the künefe for 35 minutes in the preheated oven on the center rack. 
  9. As soon as you take the künefe out of the oven, pour the cold syrup over the sizzling hot künefe evenly using a spoon. Let the künefe absorb the syrup for a few minutes.
  10. Turn the künefe over to your serving plate.
  11. Sprinkle the ground pistachio nuts on top and serve immediately.



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