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Künefe – A Sweet Acknowledgement Of A Famous Turkish Dessert

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As we’re in the second day of Ramazan Bayramı, the three-day festival following Ramazan, it seems only fitting to acknowledge this with a post about one of Turkey’s most famous desserts, künefe.

Künefe isn’t a dessert particular to Ramazan Bayramı; it’s just that we don’t get to do many sweetie posts on this blog – we’re not sweetie people.

But, as this bayram is about all things sugary, now is the perfect opportunity.

We like to think of this as dedication to our cause – dedication to filling this blog with as much useful Turkey food and travel information as we can.

So dedicated are we that we, savoury loving people that we are, recently found ourselves sharing a pan of super-sweet künefe, just so we could write about it here.

Yes, that’s dedication.

Künefe – A Meal In Itself!

Although you’ll be able to eat this dessert all over Turkey, künefe aficionados (and there are a lot of them in Turkey) will tell you that the Hatay region is where the best künefe is made.

A Bowl of Künefe Topped With Pistachio Nuts
Our künefe was topped with smashed pistachio nuts

The künefe in the photo above is from Fethiye.

But we were sitting at Mozaik Bahçe when we were eating it. And, as they specialise in Hatay cuisine, we’re going with the assumption that we sampled – and buzzed from – an authentic künefe portion.

This is a dessert, commonly eaten after a full meal, but we’re glad we shared one portion between us.

Let’s look at the common ingredients:

  • Ka dayıf – Finely shredded phyllo dough – (for a rough idea of its appearance, think Shredded Wheat).
  • Cheese – apparently, there is a cheese special to the Hatay region that fits the bill perfectly – unsalted and stringy. Think mozzarella.
  • Syrup – This is where we’re mixing the savoury with the super-sweet. Many Turkish desserts feature a hefty syrup portion and künefe is no exception.
  • Melted butter – Okay, calorie counters, you need to look away now. As you can see, künefe is not a dessert for those of you trying to shed the pounds. But then, what Turkish dessert is? This is indulgence on a grand scale.
  • Pistachio nut topping – Well, it’s difficult to imagine a savoury dessert, famous in Turkey’s southeast, that doesn’t feature the fabulous green of pistachio.
Close up of the Turkish Dessert Künefe
We shared one portion of künefe

All of these ingredients are arranged in a tray and then cooked until the cheese, syrup and kadayıf have fused and the topping is golden brown.

It’s traditionally served with ice-cream or kaymak (a type of clotted cream) but we were already full from our meal and ate the künefe just as it was, in the tray.

Our verdict:

Well, it’s taken a while but we are beginning to enjoy the savoury sweet contrast common to many Turkish desserts.

However, as with baklava, this is just too much for us after a full meal.

For us, these desserts – including the famous semolina cake, revani and many people’s favourite; sütlaç – are best appreciated as standalone sweet treats and will make a more than adequate lunch for those of you who love a good sugar rush.

Have you tried künefe? What’s your künefe verdict?

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Turkey's For Life

Thursday 3rd of October 2013

@ Anonymous: Well, you won't be disappointed with the restaurant - one of the best in Fethiye, for us. Enjoy. :)

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 3rd of October 2013

@ Corinne: Hope you managed to find some künefe. :)

@ Erica (Irene): Yes, it does seem to be a well loved dessert. We liked the savoury aspect to it. :)


Thursday 3rd of October 2013

I can easily eat a kunefe to myself, although if you aren't so hungry a decent portion can be shared between 2-3 I recently had kunefe from hafiz mustafa in Istanbul,it was so good I went back the next day! I'm glad there's somewhere in fethiye that serves it - although it is s traditional turkish dessert not many places serve it. I will definitely be visiting this restaurant when I return to fethiye next week!

Erica (Irene)

Tuesday 21st of August 2012

Better not let my husband see your post with that is his favorite dessert. I think he can inhale the whole dish himself at one sitting.

Corinne @ Gourmantic

Tuesday 21st of August 2012

Wh oh why did I decide to read your blog this evening! Major cravings now for kunefe dripping in syrup :)

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