I like to tell myself I can do anything I set my mind on. Well anything except playing cards. I have tried, I really have-I don’t know what it is but, I just do not enjoy spending time playing cards.
Growing up in Damascus, my parents would not allow any activities beside doing homework or reading during the school months, but summer time it was a different story. The day after school ended, we would go to the village and let the fun commence. Our cousins would stop by every stop by every afternoon to visit, eat, and play cards. Most of the time they would play as teams, and most of the time one team would need extra player to make the player count equal. Well, with my bad reputation as a card player, they would argue about which team would not have me. I was not crazy about playing anyways, but because I am the oldest I had to play just to keep all the kids entertained and happy.
We never played for money; we played for kenafeh. Yes, the losing team would buy very large tray of freshly baked kenafeh to feed every player and his or her parents.
Kenafeh is a shredded wheat dough what look like thin bundles of angle hair pasta. Kenafeh dough is usually made from scratch in the dessert shop, but the dough is sold frozen in most grocery stores. Most kenafeh stores start baking the kenafeh in the early afternoon right when people begin to take their afternoon walk so, it was hot and delicious at peak customer hours.
Kenafeh dough is rubbed with butter and placed on top of sweet special cheese, and baked until the kenafeh is golden and beautiful. It is then removed from the oven, drizzled with sweet syrup and placed on a special heating surface so it is always hot when served.
I do make kenafeh the old fashion way, but I also sometimes bake it in brioche cups for elegant individual serving.
Take about 5 cups of the shredded wheat. Drizzle the melted butter over the kenafeh and gently shred into coarse dough.
Divide the dough into 6 3-inch balls and 6 1-inch balls. Press each large ball firmly into small brioche cup. Spoon the 2 tablespoons of the sweet cheese mixture into the kenafeh. Flatten each 1-inch ball kenafeh and cover the cheese stuffing. Repeat the same steps for rest of the kenafeh balls.
place the stuffed brioche cups on cookie sheet. Bake in 395 F. degree oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow the kenafeh to rest for 5 minutes. Place flat serving plate over each mold and turn upside down. Gently remove the mold. Drizzle with the sugar syrup and savor each bite.
To make the syrup: Bring to a boil 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add couple drops of orange blossom water which you can find in all Middle Eastern grocery stores.
- 5 cups raw kenafeh. If the dough is frozen, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator
- 8 tablespoons un-salted butter
- 1½ cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup slivered or coarsely chopped roasted un-salted pistachio, optional
- 1 cup sugar syrup
- 6 brioche mold
- Place the kenafeh dough in a bowl. Melt the butter, drizzle over the dough gently shred into coarse dough. Some stores make it into fine dough. It is a personal preference.
- Divide the dough into 6 3-inch balls and 6 1-inch balls.
- Whisk the ricotta cheese with 2 tablespoons of the sugar syrup. Set aside.
- Press each large ball of kenafeh dough firmly into the small brioche cups. Spoon 2 Tablespoons into the kenafeh. Flatten the small balls and place over the cheese. Press firmly.
- Place the brioche cups onto cookie sheet. Bake in 395 F. degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, rest for 5 minutes.
- Place flat plate over each cup and turn upside down. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with the pistachio.
- To make the syrup: Boil 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Add 2 drops of orange blossom water. Allow the syrup to cool before using.