Christmas is a time filled with holiday cheer – and- holiday desserts.

Cookies are bountiful, but I’m on cookie-overload after the cookie-exchange party!

We were invited to the home of friends Bonnie and David for dinner, so I offered to bring something. Bonnie said anything would be fine, but if I just happened to be testing an Armenian recipe…
I wasn’t planning to test a recipe with Christmas shopping on my schedule, but I figured, “what the heck?”

So, this is what I made…. Cheese Kadaif (aka Kinaffeh).
I must warn you: if you’re counting calories, this dessert might not be for you.

This is actually easier to make than cookies, and it’s oh, so good! The hard part, at least in certain areas, is finding the kadaif dough.

FYI: Kadaif  dough is shredded phyllo dough which is sold fresh or frozen. As long as you have access to a Middle Eastern store, you should be able to find  the dough. A box of Shredded Wheat (the large size rolled cereal) can be used in place of the commercially prepared kadaif dough, but it needs to be softened in cold milk, and placed on a towel to drain. Separate the cereal rolls and continue the recipe as given below.

Baked Cheese Kadaif

Here’s how to make Cheese Kadaif


1 lb. package kadaif, defrosted and at room temperature
¾ lb. unsalted clarified butter*
1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese**, or curd cheese, cut in 1/4inch slices

1. In a large bowl, separate the shreds of dough, fluffing it with your fingers.
2. Pour the melted butter over the dough, tossing to distribute butter throughout. (See first photo.)
3. Distribute half of the dough in a 8” x12” inch baking pan. Gently press down dough.
4. Arrange all of the cheese slices on top of the dough.
5. Cover cheese with the remaining dough, distributing it evenly.
6. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. Cut into serving pieces.
8. While still hot, pour some simple syrup*** over each piece. Let guests add more syrup, if desired.
9. Best served warm with steaming hot coffee.

* 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.

 **Robyn’s note: I used Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella. My local Publix (Hypoluxo & Lyons Rd, Lake Worth, FL) had a super deal on the cheese. Manager Eric, an Italian from Brooklyn, was selling it for $4.99 a pound instead of the usual $10.39 a pound. Who could pass up such a bargain?

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

Heat sugar and water in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved.
Add lemon juice.
Cool until ready to use.

By the way, Bonnie and David REALLY liked it, and so did we – if you don’t mind my saying. Hope you’ll like it, too!

View Comments

  • Is this similar to the Syrian pastry with a sweet cheese filling? Also, could this be served without syrup, as an appetizer? I love this web site. I am getting so excited to begin cooking again. Thank you.

  • Kathy,I'm so glad you're being inspired to cook again! I'm not sure which Syrian dessert you're referring to. The kadaif's cheese filling isn't sweet; the simple syrup provides the necessary sweetness.
    I've never used the shredded phyllo (fillo) dough with cheese filling as an appetizer, however, using the phyllo dough sheets filled with cheese creates wonderful cheese borag - Armenian fillo pastry - appetizers.(see recipe list on the right) Why not give those a try?

  • It's a well-known Turkish Ottoman receipe. It tastes and looks better when you bake it in a special small metal forms with lids which keeps it hot for longer time.Mozarella is smth new. Try goat cheese-would be closer to original receipe.

  • Robyn I make filling with Ricotta Cheese and shredded Mozzarella Cheese. (2 cups Ricotta and 3/4 cup mozzarella). I also add to the cheese mixture 1/4 tsp Cinnamon along with 3 TBSP Honey. . . u will love it. Sandy

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