Prep Cook Yield Ready In
15 minutes 30 minutes 8-10 servings 45 minutes

Kanafeh Cheesecake Recipe

A decadent Middle Eastern-inspired cheesecake.

This cheesecake recipe was inspired by new and old flavors and our love of baklava and cheesecake. After all, who doesn’t love these desserts? We felt that the smoothness and creaminess of cheesecake needed a modern crunch and kataifi (shredded phyllo dough which is used to make baklava and other Middle Eastern pastries) was just the ingredient to try.

While we were at it, we experimented and added nuts —and then to finish off this special cheesecake and give it a  little more Middle Eastern flair, we added a rosewater syrup.

The resulting cake is similar to kanafeh, a Middle Eastern cheese pastry. And it was so amazing, we surprised even ourselves. This cheesecake has layers of flavor and layers of texture that equal heaven on a plate. Crunchy from the combination of almonds and pistachios, chewy from the kataifi pastry, smooth and creamy from the cheese and then brought together with the slight perfumed taste of the rosewater syrup. The best thing about the recipe is that it is simple to make, but looks quite impressive.

This recipe is excerpted with permission from The Modern Jewish Table.


  • 1½ cups superfine sugar
  • 7 fl oz water
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp rosewater
  • 7 oz butter, melted
  • 12 oz kataifi pastry (shredded phyllo dough, which can be found in Greek or Middle Eastern markets, or online via Amazon)
  • 9 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 9 oz cream cheese
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup blanched almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the liquid has become a syrup. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
  3. When the syrup has cooled, add the rosewater and set aside to be used later.
  4. Use a little of the butter to grease an 11-inch springform pan.
  5. In a large bowl, break apart the kataifi pastry until all the shreds are loose. Mix the rest of the melted butter in, using your hands, so the pastry is well coated.
  6. Beat together the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, egg yolks and sugar until smooth.
  7. Sprinkle blanched almonds over the bottom of the pan. Take half of the kataifi dough and place over the almonds, pressing it down.
  8. Spread the cheese mixture over the kataifi, using a palette knife so you have an even layer. Take the other half of the kataifi dough and press over the top.
  9. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and sprinkle ground pistachios on the top. Pour the rosewater syrup evenly over the cake. Leave to cool and remove from pan.

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