Monday, November 28, 2011

Nut-filled Kadaif (Kinaffeh)

Doug and I did not host this year's Thanksgiving gathering. For the first time in  many years, we were someone else's guests. It was quite a welcome change. The only thing we were asked to bring was a dessert of our choice. Figuring there would be an overload of pies, I opted to make nut-filled kadaif.
Nut-filled Kadaif
When we arrived at the host's home, Paula, another guest, glanced at my tray of kadaif, then went back studied it very carefully. She turned to me and said that our dessert reminded her of a North African dessert she had eaten in the early 1970's - something called "kunafeh". She asked if I'd ever heard of it. The word "kineffeh" was no stranger to me, but I was a bit surprised to hear of this sweet as being from Africa. I told her that the dessert I brought went by two names, as far as I knew, kadaif - and - kinaffeh. She was thrilled at the prospect of eating this dessert again. I told Paula she was in luck because I was going to post the recipe on the website, and as long as she could find shredded phyllo dough, she would be able to make kineffeh whenever the mood struck.

Nut-filled Kadaif
A 9"x 13" pan yielded about 24 pieces 

1 pkg. kadaif (shredded phyllo dough), defrosted and at room temperature
¾ lb. (3 sticks) unsalted, *clarified*, melted butter
3 cups chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or pistachios)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

**Simple Syrup** (recipe below)


 1. In a large bowl, separate the shreds of dough, fluffing it with your fingers.
 2. Pour the melted butter over the dough, tossing with 2 forks to distribute butter throughout.
 3. In a medium bowl stir together the nuts, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
 4. Distribute half of the dough in a 9” x13” inch baking pan. Gently press down dough.
 5. Sprinkle the nut-cinnamon mixture over the layer of shredded dough to cover.
 6. Top the nut mixture with the remaining dough, distributing it evenly.
 7. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
 8. Cut into serving pieces.
 9. While still hot, pour some simple syrup over each piece. Let guests add more syrup, if desired.

 NOTE: Can be served warm or at room temperature.
* How to clarify butter: Slowly melt unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Let butter rest 5 minutes. Skim foam from the surface and discard. Ladle clarified (clear) butter into a bowl being careful not to scoop up any milk solids and water which have sunk to bottom of saucepan.

 **Simple Syrup:
 2 cups sugar
 1 cup water
 A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

 ·         Heat sugar and water in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved, stirring from time to time.
·         Add lemon juice.
·         Cool until ready to use.


  1. In Greece this is 'kataifi', very yummy!

  2. Robyn, your simple syrup is pretty thick. I usually use 1 cup sugar/1 cup water. Is that specific to this recipe?

    Otherwise, I didn't realize kadaif was so simple to make. I'm not much of a baker, but I think I'm going to try this out.

    BTW, are you familiar with the version that has clotted cream? I think it is the same except that you use a mixture of creme fraiche, thickened with starch and sweetened, instead of the nuts. If you know that variation, could you maybe post it? Thanks!

  3. Ara, The proportions of sugar to water for the simple syrup are really a matter of taste. My 2-to-1 ratio isn't specific to this recipe, it's just my preference.
    I do have a recipe for a cream filling for kadaif, but it doesn't use creme fraiche. I'll be happy to post it, if you'd like.

  4. Oh, this reminds me of home. I need to find some shredded phyllo dough! My mom always makes the version with the cream filling, too. I don't think I've seen her use creme fraiche, but since I haven't seen her do this since I was a kid, I wouldn't know the difference. I'll have to ask. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  5. This is one of those things - like trying a variation of Pilaf - that I have a tough time with. Maybe it's just because we make Paklava so often. I grew up making the cream filled Kadayif, so I don't think I've ever even tasted the nut version. The nuts automatically go in Paklava. Maybe I should bite the bullet and make my next tray half and half. Or actually 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 since I've never tried a cheese version either. ;)

    I forget what he called it, but I had an Algerian friend who used to go crazy whenever I would make the cream version. Said it was just like his grandmother's. It really is a small world. :)

  6. To clarify: The cream version uses clotted cream (ashta or ghaymakh), I believe. I was not sure how you would make that, so I just guessed it uses creme fraiche.

  7. Does anyone have a recipe for the cream Kadaif?

    1. Here's the link to my recipe for 'Cream Filling for Kadaif':
      Give it a try!

  8. Believe it or not, I use ricotta cheese and it does come out quite tasty. You will need to spoon on top and gradually flatten the cheese.

  9. i remember my grandmother making this with shredded wheat cereal pillows, soaked in milk, browned in a saute pan (cast iron in those days) served with maple syrup. she couldnt afford nuts so it was plain.