Mini-kadaifi cakes

If you walk into a pastry shop in Beirut (specializing in Arabic sweets), a good third of all pastries will be made with this dough, called kataifi or shredded phyllo dough. I saw  once  how this dough is made: A batter is piped through hundreds of minuscule little holes onto a hot griddle which forms the long hair-like strands of dough. In Beirut, this pastry is made in certain shops and can be purchased fresh. In the US, the option is to buy it frozen or in a bag (not frozen) imported from Turkey.

I prefer to buy it in a bag, which affords me the luxury of using only as much as I need; with the frozen dough you have to use the entire package within 10 days or so.

These  pastries are just easy to make at home; they can be prepared in advance; they get the “wow” response with  minimal effort.

INGREDIENTS: 8 servings

  • 3 cups of kadaifi dough (either frozen or not)
  • 1 1/2 cup of clarified butter (can use margarine or oil as well)
  • 1 1/2 cup of mascarpone or ricotta or mozzarella or unsalted akkawi cheese
  • 1/2  cup of syrup (or honey)


  1. Grab the quantity of dough you need; untangle it (if it is frozen, it will be shaped as a long rope) and place in a bowl; pour the clarified butter (or melted margarine or oil) on it and with two forks combine thoroughly to make sure the strands are well-buttered.
  2. Place small equal-size mounds in cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Let it sit there for a while (cover and place in the fridge overnight if you wish). When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden throughout.
  3. Serve warm with a dollop of mascarpone or ricotta or cream and pass a small jug of syrup around to sweeten as desired.


Another option is to insert a piece of cheese in the middle of the pastry; the challenge here is to keep the cheese from hardening with the long baking time and yet make sure the pastries are golden and crispy. Best cheeses for this are mozzarella-type cheeses, which need to be soaked in water several times to remove any trace of saltiness. Middle-Eastern store sell a special cheese called “sweet cheese” made especially for pastries that could be used here.

After the pastries have baked and are golden and crispy, you can tilt the muffin tin and remove the extra butter or oil.


1 1/2  cup of water, 1 cup of sugar: Boil for 10 minutes with a teaspoon of lemon juice. Add a teaspoon of rose water and orange blossom water at the end.

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  1. Posted June 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I would love to try this cute looking cakes. Shredded phyllo dough sounds interesting.

  2. Posted June 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait to try these…I’ve seen this dough in the Mediterranean market where you have inspired me to shop ;-) I will now know what to do with it and can’t wait to return to pick some up. It sounds soooooo wonderful. Thanks for another beautiful and inspiring post!

  3. Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if I can get any kadaifi dough here. But your mini kadaifi cakes look so crisp and tempting. Really want to try.

  4. Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    So impressive! I love the look of the kadaifi dough….I am sure these are very delicious!

  5. Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar dish in a Turkish restaurant a while back. I loved it so much, I searched for the recipe but never found a good one.
    Can’t wait to try these. YUM!!!

  6. Sarah
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Lovely! What a fun and delicate dessert. Will have to look for these ingredients at my local Middle Eastern store.

  7. Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Waw…j’adoooore ta recette. Surtout en version mini qui en fait des bouchées plus faciles à présenter. Je la ferai certainement. Bonne soirée Joumana.

  8. Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh I wish I had some now!

    I was thinking to ask you if 1) you would share the recipe for making the sugar for hair removal, and 2) if you know the name of the “clay” substance that you mix with water and use as a natural fragrant rinse for your hair. It’s sold in Lebanon but I don’t know the name of what it is. Wishing we could buy it here.

  9. Joumana
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    @Jojo: I had been discussing the “caramel” with my daughter all week! I used to make it as a teenager and remember it 6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 6 tablespoons of white granulated sugar. Place in a small skillet and stir with a spoon; let it form big bubbles and let it bubble until the caramel is golden; test by dropping a tear on a piece of greased marble or plate; if it hardens immediately, it is ready. Pour the entire caramel and let it hardens a few seconds. Then pick it up and start working it, stretching it back and forth until the caramel is ready: sticky but not too much; it is trial and error really and I got good at it because that was all we did. Come to think of it, I should do a video, that would be easier to explain! (have yu checked on youtube?)
    As for the clay substance, I have bought it and used it a few times, I think it is natural clay. Let me find out more when I am there later this summer and I will get back with you on it. It is sold in Sidon at the soap museum I believe.

    @Kankana: You will find a lot of online suppliers, mostly Greek. They are all the same from my experience.

  10. Posted June 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    These are so good – and look soooooo delectable!

  11. Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Love shredded phyllo dough! Those mini pastry cakes look so lovely!

  12. Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Mmmhhh, a divine treat!



  13. Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Voilà ce que j’appelle une vraie gourmandise … ce coeur de fromage fondant me fait terriblement envie …

  14. Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Seriously am speechless, wat a fascinating and cute looking cakes..

  15. Posted June 22, 2011 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    This is totally new to me. I love how I always learn about new recipes from you!

  16. Posted June 22, 2011 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    hummm une jolie façon d’utiliser les kadaifs !!!
    j’aime la mozzarella filante comme tu nous la propose.

    bises et bon mercredi gourmand


  17. Angel of the North
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Kadaifi is stuff from heaven but unobtainable in most of the UK. That recipe looks totally wonderful. I enclose a savoury recipe you might like:

  18. Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Oh wow, it looks so yummy.

  19. Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    You made min-Kiunefe cakes….adorable and most certainly delicious!

  20. Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Yum :-)
    Here in Tennessee I can’t find many of the Lebanese pantry items I need but fortunately does have what I need most of the time, which is where I get shredded phyllo, plus they ship it with a reusable ice pack.

  21. Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Love this! I haven’t made anything with shredded phyllo, but do love working with it. Your recipe is an interesting combo of savory/sweet. I’ll be looking for the shredded phyllo now…so many possibilities.

  22. Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Je connais la version kneffé découverte dans un resto kurde.
    L’inconvénient est que ça ne peut être préparé à l’avance, surtout avec la mozzarella car le fromage perd son aspect coulant.
    Sinon, j’adore. C’est tellement bon.
    A très bientôt.

  23. Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    wow .. this looks so cute and delicious and different. I am not able to find the kdaifi in any shop .. are in frozen section . any brand you can recommend

  24. Posted June 23, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    These definitely prompt a “wow” from my lips!

  25. Posted June 23, 2011 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    These treats are a wonderful idea.
    The versatility using your method has given me a few ideas for a savoury recipe as well.
    Thanks for sharing Joumana…always nice to see what you’re up to ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  26. Posted June 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    These are lovely. I’ve never seen anything like them. Do you have recipes that show the making of the dough since it isn’t sold here.

  27. Posted June 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    These look so amazing!!!! Want!!

  28. Posted June 24, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    HA – for a minute I thought this post was titled Khadafi cakes, and I though you were going all political on us! I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to find any kataifi around here, which is a shame because these look so good with their smooth, melting center.

  29. Posted June 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I have always wanted to make this pastry but never had a recipe. I will be trying yours as soon as I can get to the Lebanese market to get the Kataifi. I am so eager to try them!

  30. Posted June 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow is right! These are fantastic :)

  31. Coka
    Posted September 8, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Kadaif is extraordinary delicious sweet or cake.I am from Serbia but I have relatives in Montenegro were I tried kadaif for the first time 30 years ago and it is one of my most favorite sweets ever…:)

  32. nourah
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    I am an Arab and I love to tell you that these are called Konafa not Kutayv there Kutayv and differ from these

  33. Posted February 27, 2013 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Exactly where did u actually obtain the points to post ““Mini-kadaifi cakes” ?
    Many thanks -Bradly

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