K'naafeh (String Pastry Sweets)
Cooking time: 55 minutes
6 1/2 oz (200g) k'naafeh pastry, bought or home made
1 1/2 cup or ghee or unsalted butter, melted
2 cups cold rosewater or orange blossom water (see recipes)
Vanilla cream filling:
3/4 cup of corn flour / cornstarch
1 1/2 pints (750 ml) milk
1/4 pint (150 ml) cream
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
Place the k'naafeh pastry in a large bowl and separate the "strings" as much as possible. Pour in the melted ghee or butter and work it in with the fingers, making sure that each pastry string is thoroughly greased. (Traditionally the string is now put through a grinder and crumbled, however it is just as delicious when left whole.)
Vanilla cream filling
Make a paste with the corn flour/cornstarch and some of the milk, and set aside. Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and mix a little of the hot milk and cream into the corn flour paste to warm, then pour the paste into hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Return to the heat and simmer until thick, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. (If it does get lumpy, use an eggbeater.) Mix in the vanilla essence.
To assemble the k'naafeh
Place half the pastry strings evenly over the bottom of a 10 in (25 cm) baking dish and cover with the filling, then place the remainder of the pastry in an even layer on top and press down firmly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350' F (180' C) for 45 minutes, then turn up to 450' F (230' C) and bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes or until light golden on top.
Remove from oven and while still hot pour cool rosewater or orange blossom water over. Serve hot or cold.
Crumbled unsalted Lebanese white cheese, Mozzarella or Ricotta can be substituted for the vanilla cream filling.