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Middle Eastern Cream Filled Kunafa / Kunafa bil Ashta

Servings 12 Servings

Ingredients

Sugar Syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice

Ashta/ Cream Filling

  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons orange blossom water

Kunafa

  • 1 pound package kataifi (shredded phyllo dough), thawed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup neutral flavored oil
  • Sliced or roughly chopped pistachios, for garnish
  • Dried rose petals, for garnish, optional

Instructions

Prepare Sugar Syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat. Refrigerate the syrup once it has reached room temperature.

Prepare Ashta/ Cream Filling

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together eggs, sugar, cornstarch until smooth. While continuously whisking, pour in milk and whisk until completely combined.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook until thickened, while regularly stirring or whisking to prevent scorching, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in orange blossom water. Transfer to a heat-safe container and cover with cling film (making sure that it’s directly on top of the cream/custard) to prevent a skin from forming.

Prepare Kunafa

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside two greased 9-inch round cake pans.

  2. Place kataifi in a large bowl, and shred into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Gently toss the shredded kataifi with melted butter and oil, making sure they are evenly coated.
  3. Transfer ½ of the prepared kataifi to both prepared pans. Gently press them down to form an even layer. Spoon the prepared ashta evenly over both pans, leaving a ½-inch border along the edges. Top both pans with the remaining kataifi and gently pat it down into an even layer.
  4. Bake the prepared kunafa for 30 minutes. For a golden color, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
  5. Remove kunafa from oven and immediately pour the prepared sugar syrup evenly over both pans. Garnish with pistachios and rose. Allow the syrup to absorb for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Kataifi can readily be found at your local Middle Eastern/Arab grocery markets.

All of the components of Kunafa can be prepared beforehand. The Ashta and assembled (unbaked) kunafa can be kept refrigerated up to 2 days prior, and the sugar syrup keeps well refrigerated for several days. Simply bake before serving.

Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator. Warm up leftovers in the oven for best results.

Kunafa can be baked in a 9”x13” pan as well. Baking temperature will remain the same, but the baking time will be increased by 5 to 10 minutes.