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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.