Lebanese cheesecake, or the unpronounceable Knafeh be jibneh! This is a homemade version of it – maybe, and just maybe, a little bit lighter than the original.
I learned this recipe from my aunt Bahia. When we moved form Beirut, Lebanon, to Belgium, she and my mom tried many ingredients to come as close as possible to the authentic version, and with time my aunt became the master of this dessert.
500gr (1lb) Knafeh dough (or angel hair kataifi)
20gr (1tbsp) Butter
500gr (1lb) Mozzarella cheese
250gr (9oz) Ricotta
150ml (2/3 c) Cream
250gr (1cup) sugar
125cl (1/2 cup) water
1 drop of lemon juice
3 tbsp rose water
3 tbsp orange blossom water
1- Prepare the syrup in advance. You can leave it in the fridge several weeks.
Pour the sugar and water in a pan.
Boil for 5 min and add a drop of lemon.
Pour the rose water and orange blossom water.
Boil again for 10 min and remove it from the heat. Let it cool down.
The consistency should be a little bit thicker than water. If your syrup turns out to be too thick, just add a little water and boil it.
2- Prepare the dough.
With a sharp knife cut the angel hair very finely.
Put it in a pan on low temperature.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave.
Pour it on the angel hair. With your hands toss the dough until the butter is well mixed.
3- In a food processor, mix the mozzarella cheese with the ricotta and cream. If you don’t have a food processor, grate the mozzarella cheese in a bowl and add the ricotta and cream. Mix with a fork to obtain a creamy paste.
4- Use a round cake mold; butter the bottom lightly and cover it with half of the angel hair. Press the angel hair down with both hands to obtain a very flat and homogeneous surface.
5- Pour the cheese mixture on top of the layer of angel hair and spread it evenly.
6- Cover it with the other half of angel hair and again press with both hands to flatten the surface. If you have a slightly smaller mold, place the smaller mold on top of the mold for dessert and press down to have a very smooth surface. You may leave it in the fridge if you are going to serve it the same day or the day after. If serving the dessert later, freeze it.
7- When you are ready to serve the dessert, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
8- Put it in the oven on the lower rack for about 45 min., or until the top is brown but not burned. If it was frozen, cook for an hour.
9- Remove dessert from the oven.
10- Pour a little bit of the cold syrup on top.
11- Serve hot: cut squares and place on dishes. Pour more syrup on each individual share.
Knafeh be jibneh should be eaten very warm. If you have leftovers, just put them in the fridge or freezer and heat it again to re-serve.