This Milk Kunafa is so Easy to Make
Our version is made with whole milk. No cheese.
My research into the world of Kunafa, has turned up plenty of contradictions in spellings, and pronunciations and ingredients. They all to agree on kataifi as being the star ingredient. (although I did find one using bread crust) Some are made with cream and mild cheese similar to mozzarella. And then soaked in a honeyed simple syrup. The Americanized versions mostly use mozzarella as opposed to sourcing the authentic ingredients, as they can be hard to find state-side.
And then, there is this version. Without any cheese at all. I believe it to be Arabic or Palestinian. Our pastry chef made this for a company party and I have been begging him for the recipe since. It was so light, slightly sweet, not overpoweringly saccharine. His idea of a recipe was to use 2 lbs of this, and a gallon of that....enough to make a cake big enough to serve a restaurant. I've finally got it pared down to a workable size. The filling is sweet, but not overpowering, tender and surprisingly light. It is a nice effect, the crispy crunch of the kataifi with the delicate creamy filling. Let us know how you like it.
- whole milk - 2 cups + 1/4cup
- sugar - 2 tbs
- cornstarch - 3 1/2 tbs
- butter - 1 tsp melted into milk
- pure vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
- butter - 2 tbs added to kataifi
- Fillo Factory kataifi - 1/3 lb (1/3 of pkg)
- shelled unsalted pistachios - 2 tbs crushed- optional
Preheat oven to 350f
Mix and dissolve the cornstarch into the 1/4 cold milk and set aside for a few minutes
In a saucepan, add butter, milk, and sugar and bring to boil. Add the vanilla extract to the cornstarch and then stir both into the slow boiling milk. Keep stirring.
When the mixture thickens, and clings to the spoon, as above, it is done. It happens pretty quickly. Remove from heat and pour into another bowl - set aside to cool down.
Meanwhile, take out a "large" 1/3 lb of the kataifi and put it into a wide pan or bowl. Using your hands, massage the room temp butter into it, breaking up clumps with your fingers and making sure all is covered with the butter. Yes it will break up, that's fine.
Take 1/2 of the kataifi and press it into an 8x8" or 8x9" baking pyrex or pan - spreading it evenly.
Pour the thickened milk mixture over it and spread out with a spoon or spatula. Then gently press the remaining buttered kataifi over the top of the filling and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. The top should be golden.
Remove, cool for 15 minutes and gently remove from pan or cut and put on plates to serve. Garnish with crushed pistachios if desired.
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