Author Notes: I was fortunate enough to learn this recipe from a wonderful Lebanese woman named Irene. This delicious dessert is made of shredded phyllo soaked in butter with a creamy cheese center and a drizzling of orange blossom simple syrup. It’s a sweet enjoyed all over the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and even northern Egypt. Traditionally, the cheese used is nabulsi, a soft white cheese, but Irene substitutes mozzarella because it’s much easier to find! (less) —Anna Francese Gass
Serves 6 to 8
For the pastry:
1 pound kataifi, shredded phyllo dough
1/2 pound unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
1 pound shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the kataifi in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over top. Work the butter through the threads until all of the Kataifi is coated and moist. Be sure to pull the threads apart as you work.
Remove half of the kataifi to another bowl.
Grease a 9- by 13-inch glass dish and add half of the kataifi. Spread it so that it covers the bottom.
Distribute the mozzarella over the kataifi to create an even layer of cheese.
Spread the heavy cream over the mozzarella carefully to create a third layer.
Cover the cheese and heavy cream with the other half of the Kataifi.
Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is a crisp, golden, brown.
Remove from oven and drizzle the syrup over the top of the dessert.
For the orange blossom syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
In small saucepan, heat sugar and water over low heat until sugar is fully dissolved and liquid begins to thicken, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and add orange blossom water. Mix to incorporate.