Sept 25, 2021: Ricotta Kunafa rolls are a Middle Eastern delicacy and a much revered dessert. It is famous during festive occasions like Eid and functions like marriages for their creamy texture with crunchy coating. The dessert is not only flavourful but also very filling to eat.
Festive dessert Ricotta Kunafa rolls
The ingredients that make Ricotta Kunafa rolls unique and absolute fan favourite are quite exquisite themselves. In the authentic recipe, the ingredients used are:
Kunafa pastry, available at any Middle Eastern grocery store. While buying the pastry, make sure it is fresh. It won’t be like any traditional pastry as it is in the form of threads.
Ricotta cheese, the next main ingredient in the creamy ricotta cheese used for filling. Traditionally cream filling or Qeshta is used, however, you can also use ricotta cheese which blends perfectly fine as well.
Sugar Syrup is the last crucial ingredient that gives sweetness to this dish. Making sugar syrup is super easy. You can cook sugar in water with a bit of lemon juice.
Garnish or topping, traditionally, every Kunafa recipe involves pistachios. You can use chopped or crushed pistachios according to your liking. However, you can also use other chopped nuts. It is entirely up to you and your taste preferences.
Gather these ingredients from a middle eastern market. If you do not get kunafa, soaking vermicelli strands for a few seconds works perfectly fine for the coating as well.
Ingredients to make Ricotta Kunafa rolls
2 cups or 400g granulated sugar
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tsp orange blossom water for flavouring (alternatively, cinnamon or vanilla can be used)
500g kunafa strands or long vermicelli
400g ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups melted ghee or unsalted butter
Ground pistachios, for garnish (optional)
To Make The Sugar Syrup:
- In a medium saucepan, combine together the sugar, water and squeeze of lemon juice. Set on the stovetop over high heat. Try to avoid stirring it as it heats to prevent crystallization from happening, but if the sugar is not dissolving, then help it out with a few stirs. Once it comes to a boil, stop stirring.
- Bring to a rolling boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Set a timer! The syrup will thicken, and have a consistency similar to corn syrup.
- Remove from heat and stir the orange blossom water or flavoring of your choice. Transfer the liquid to a container and allow it to cool to room temperature before using.
To make Kunafa Rolls:
- Unwrap the kunafa or vermicelli from its packaging. Take out a thin layer of kunafa and rewrap the rest with a damp towel to prevent drying out. Using kitchen scissors, cut strands that are about 12cm long and 5cm wide.
- Working with one strand at a time, keeping the rest well covered, remove a 1cm wide strand from the side of the 5cm one. Place the 1cm strand horizontally over the upper side of the wider strand, to form sort of a lower case ‘t’ shape.
- Place 2 teaspoons of ricotta cheese over the thin strand. Fold the sides of the thin strand over the ricotta cheese, making sure the sides are well sealed and that no cheese is peeking out. Pat a little bit of water on the upper side of the wider kunafa strand, then start rolling, making sure the cheese is well cradled inside.
- Pat the end of the strand with more water and roll all the way through. Place the kunafa roll, seam-side down, in a baking pan. Repeat with the remaining kunafa strands, until you run out of ricotta cheese, arranging all the rolls in the pan.
- Leave the kunafa rolls uncovered, at room temperature, for about an hour until the kunafa dries out slightly. Set aside the rolls you want to bake right now, freeze the excess for later.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/ 390F. Pour the melted ghee all over the kunafa rolls, to saturate. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the kunafa is deep, golden brown in color, flipping the rolls once or twice to the other side during baking.
- Remove from the oven, and using tongs, transfer the rolls to kitchen towels to drain the excess ghee. While still super hot, return to a clean pan and pour the cooled syrup all over the rolls. Allow the syrup to soak into the rolls.
- Before serving, transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle each roll with ground pistachios if desired.
Savour cheesy and sweet Ricotta Kunafa rolls preferably the same day. Serve it to your special guests or loved ones and enjoy a filling dessert.