Tag: sweet

Watermelon Cooler

Watermelon Cooler

This is hands down the most requested drink by my family, friends, and my very picky children. This watermelon cooler is refreshing, hydrating, cooling, and tastes like a tropical drink you’d enjoy on vacation. In my Vitamix blender, I throw in cubes of fresh watermelon, […]

Strawberry Preserves

Strawberry Preserves

If your family loves to go berry picking like mine does, you are likely going to end up with baskets full of of luscious red strawberries, raspberries, or juicy blueberries. This recipe for strawberry preserves will work for any type of berry. It is easy, […]

Kunafah Apple Pie

Kunafah Apple Pie

apple kunafah
Jump to Recipe

Nothing is as American as apple pie, and a true Midwestern girl that I am, I love everything apple: apple picking, orchards in the fall, caramel apples, cider mills, and of course, apple pie. This epic dessert takes the mouthwatering flavors of juicy, sweet, buttery, apple pie and fuses it with the incredible textures of buttery Egyptian kunafah that my mom makes with nuts, cinnamon, and sugar. Kunafah Apple Pie uses the shredded phyllo dough, known as kataifi, as the crust.

apple kunafah slice missing

If you read my other kunafah post with vanilla bean creme filling, then you know about how versatile kunafah dessert is. Endless possibilities of fillings for a delicious crust, made this apple pie concoction a no-brainer for me. My mom’s classic kunafah has always been the kataifi dough rolled in butter and filled with an irresistible mixture of nuts, cinnamon, sugar and raisins. She would manipulate the shredded dough and roll it into a beautiful log shape, and it would be served sliced up, soaking in the delicious simple syrup made at home. It smells divine and the flavors of the crunchy, toasted, cinnamon and sugar nuts with this kunafah dough is perfection.

penas and walnuts in brown butter
Brown butter and cinnamon coating each and every delicious pecan and walnut….

You know that amazing buttery-brown sugar scent that fills the air when you smell cinnamon nuts toasting at a carnival (Navy Pier South Dock!), or when you walk by Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago? Well, yea, this is what that smells like. And OH MY GOSH I cannot tell you how good it tastes and smells all at once. Try to slow down when enjoying, and refrain from indulging too much so you don’t end up with a stomach ache like I did…The smells, texture, and flavor is just too good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This is definitely on my Thanksgiving menu this year, and I also made it to bring to a few dinner parties. It’s that easy to make, and so good to share. I hope you and yours enjoy!

Kunafah Apple Pie

A sweet, buttery, cinnamon apple pie filling fused with the incredible textures of buttery Egyptian kunafah.
5 from 9 votes
Course Dessert
Cuisine egyptian, Middle Eastern


For the Kunafah Crust

  • 1 Package of Shredded Phyllo Dough, Kataifi
  • 1 c unsalted butter, melted (8 oz or 2 sticks)

For the apple filling

  • 5-6 apples, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 c white sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 c chopped pecans and walnuts
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


For the Kunafah crust

  • Remove the kataifi dough from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a few hours. The dough must be thawed and at room temperature before using.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (f).
  • Separate and loosen the kataifi dough strands in a large bowl. Be sure to cut the long strands of dough with kitchen shears a few times so they aren't too long. Pour 1 cup of the melted butter all over the kataifi dough and rub it gently until all the strands of dough are well coated in the butter, otherwise it will be dry and have no flavor.
    kunafah dough
  • Using half of the dough, press it into a pie pan, pressing up the sides of the pan.
    kunafah dough in pan

For the filling

  • Mound the chopped apples and 1/2 cup of nuts into the center of the pie pan, on top of the kunafah crust.
  • Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.
  • Slowly stir in the flour to create a golden paste, making sure to smooth out any lumps with a spoon.
  • Add the brown sugar and 1 cup of the white sugar, 1/2 c of water, and cinnamon and stir well.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer on low for 3-5 minutes.

Assembly of the Kunafah

  • Slowly pour half of the sauce all over the apples and nuts, reserving the other half of it to drizzle on top of the kunafah at the end.
  • Using the remainder of the kunafah dough, layer it on top of the apples to cover them completely, making sure to close up the edges of the dough by pressing it together. The dough will be very stringy and parts may stick up. Press them down as best as you can.
  • Bake on the lower middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. (The top of kunafa browns quickly).
  • Replace the pot of remaining caramel sauce on the stove at low heat. Add 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 c of white sugar into the remainder of the sauce. Stir it until well incorporated and allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice.
    penas and walnuts in brown butter
  • Stir the remainder of the nuts into the caramel sauce.
  • After removing the kunafah from the oven, promptly pour the sauce all over the kunafah top.
  • Serve warm and enjoy with ice cream, coffee, or tea!


If you are baking the kunafa in advance of serving, reserve the caramel sauce on top for pouring right before serving. When ready to serve, simply reheat the kunafa in an oven warmed to 250 degrees for 15-20 minutes. After removing from the oven, pour the sauce with nuts all over the top and serve. 
Keyword apple, apple pie, brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, knafeh, kunafah, nuts, pecan
Kunafah bil Kishtah (shredded phyllo with pastry cream)

Kunafah bil Kishtah (shredded phyllo with pastry cream)

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Orange Cranberry Muffins or cake

Orange Cranberry Muffins or cake

This is a delicious citrus cake that is divinely moist, and bursting with tangy cranberries throughout! The recipe is so simple, anybody can whip it up in no time. Orange cake is one of those nostalgic recipes that takes me back to my childhood visits to […]

Tea bag cookie

Tea bag cookie

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A baby is brewing! These personalized tea bag cookies were the perfect treats and favors for our afternoon tea themed baby shower. These cookies were so delicious and really added to the theme. I set them inside each tea cup or on the saucer, beside the tea cup. The tea bag label said the last name of the parent’s to be and the date, with the expected baby’s initials on the other side. These are so easy and fast to make and perfect to have with tea. The details and personalizing are what take some time and attention. The most time consuming part was cutting out the tea bag labels which I designed on the computer in MS Word, and threading the labels onto string and into the cookie.

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I used this great recipe for shortbread by Ina Garten. The key to getting a perfect dough is to use softened room temperature butter and to beat it until it is fluffy. If you do so and then slowly stir in the flour mixture, you will not have any issues with the mixture being too crumbly or dry. Another problem reviewers may have had is not measuring the flour properly. Flour should not be packed into the measuring cup, but scooped loosely by a spoon and into a cup for accurate measurement. If you have too much flour, the cookie will  be dry. I refrigerated the dough for about 30 minutes so that it is easier to work with and cut into the shape. 

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Be sure to cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating…


You could cut the cookie into the tea bag shape by using a rectangular cookie cutter and cutting off the top 2 corners. 

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Sprinkle with some sugar…


I used a large straw to poke out a hole at the top of each cookie, which you need to do BEFORE baking if you plan on getting a tea bag label through your cookie 😉 



The cookies were still fairly soft after baking so I was able to cut the edges smaller and straighter if necessary to achieve the shape I wanted and to poke the straws through the hole again to define the opening (the dough puffs out and expands while baking). But this must be done while the cookie is still hot and malleable. Once the cookie cools, you cannot cut it without cracking the whole cookie. My husband and I had no problems dealing with all those scrap edges! Yum!

Once the cookie cooled, I melted some delicious dark chocolate in a double boiler ( a pyrex bowl sitting over a pot of simmering water does the trick) and dipped each cookie in and laid it on parchment paper to cool and harden overnight. The next day I threaded each cookie with its label.

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Vanilla Bean Frosting

Vanilla Bean Frosting

This is fluffy, delicious, melts in your mouth, and perfectly vanilla! This makes enough frosting for about 3 dozen cupcakes (with generous and lofty peaks of frosting!) or a double layer 9 inch cake. This easy recipe involves slicing open a real vanilla bean pod, […]

Banana Date Smoothie

Banana Date Smoothie

This banana date smoothie is a sweet and energizing drink to replenish your body with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as a good dose of protein. For this reason, this drink is perfect for Ramadan fasts. My father concocted this delicious drink one Ramadan, […]

Harissa aka Basboosa (Semolina Cake)

Harissa aka Basboosa (Semolina Cake)

basbosa harissa

Harissa is a typical Middle Eastern dessert very popular in Egypt. It is a dense, moist cake, gooey with a fragrant simple syrup. Harissa, also known as basboosa is a semolina sweet cake with a delicate balance of citrus notes, coconut, optional rose notes, and accented with golden almonds on top. It is the perfect treat to serve to guests with tea and coffee, and its simple recipe method will entice anyone to prepare it!

Many Egyptians also call this dessert basboosa. Basboosa is my nickname my father used for me as a child. The name basboosa literally translates to my sweet or my precious when used as a term of endearment, so it can certainly be applied to both your loved ones or this scrumptious dessert! Depending which region of Egypt one is from, it would be referred to as harissa (Alexandria) or basboosa (Cairo and the vicinity). Growing up, basboosa has always been a part of our family dinner parties, a basic sweet to have on hand for casual guests, and of course, for the month of Ramadan. I recall enjoying basboosa many moments with friends and families. It is truly a delightful treat, and especially nostalgic because you really only receive or serve it in the home, made with love by your mother or grandmother. I remember enjoying this dessert with my best friend in Ramadan; we sat there savoring the gooey delicious little cakes, licking our fingers from the sticky crumbs that remained.

I am so fond of making harissa at home, especially when we have guests because it is SO easy to make! You can whip all ingredients easily in a bowl with a spatula and no eggs are needed for the batter! Mixing this up is truly a cinch, yet the flavor and texture so complex.  My Syrian and Lebanese friends refer to this very cake as namoura in their homes and Turks may refer to it at Revani. I have seen versions of this dessert in Jewish traditions, as well as Greek and Armenian cuisine! As I always say, bonding and connection always happens through food! 

I love my mom’s recipe because it is so light and not overly sweet and heavy like some Middle Eastern desserts can be. Although this is a syrup soaked cake, the batter is a nice and fluffy semolina and coconut mixture with minimal sugar (you could even omit it in the batter). The syrup that soaks into typical Middle Eastern desserts is a simple sugar syrup, heavy with rose water or orange blossom essence added to it. The syrup used for this basboosa is very fragrant and light. As my mom always does, I simply use a dash of lemon juice, and orange rind for flavor which balances nicely with the sweetness of this semolina cake. 



Harissa is made with coarse semolina flour, which you can find in any Middle Eastern market, Italian specialty shops, or other specialty grocery stories. If you cannot find it, a good substitute you may use is the Cream of Wheat cereal mix made with farina wheat. Just make sure it is not the instant variation as that grain is too fine. This recipe cannot be made with fine semolina, it should be the coarse type.

The cake is made without eggs, and uses yogurt and sour cream instead. Be sure to use plain yogurt as flavored kinds have additives that can change the recipe. It is easily whipped together in one bowl and bakes in one large sheet pan. It cannot get any easier!

The simple syrup is incredibly easy:  dissolve sugar in water and boil it until it becomes thickened, add a hint of flavoring with lemon juice and orange juice, and optionally rose water, and then a tablespoon of butter. In my mother’s recipe for syrup, a fresh squeeze of lemon juice is important to help the syrup thicken. I add the rind of an orange to scent and flavor the cake with more depth of flavor. In the winter, when we have great citrus I like to add orange zest into the batter of the basboosa, for variation. 

I rarely use rose water because I don’t like the quality of the rose syrup we have locally. However, if I get my hands on some of the pure rose essence, it is a must! I have also started boiling rose buds in the syrup water, before I add the sugar. This makes for a similar fragrant effect that is purely rose. The delicate scent of rose in each bite is so lovely.

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Other people like to add orange blossom to the syrup. You can use what you love! The syrup should be prepared in advance as it needs to be poured after cooling, onto the hot cake, fresh out of the oven. The syrup becomes fully absorbed by the cake this way, making it so lusciously moist and gooey. 


The batter is so incredibly easy you will want to get up and make this as soon as you read this! All you need is semolina flour, baking powder, yogurt, a dash of butter, coconut, sugar and sour cream. No eggs! You mix all of these together into a nice thick and creamy batter, allow it to sit and rise for 30 minutes, and then spread into a 9 inch rectangular pan. Bake at 400 degrees (F) for about 30 minutes. In no time, you will have gorgeous little semolina squares to enjoy for dessert!


Harissa is traditionally presented with a slivered almond on top of each slice and cut into squares or diamonds. This sweet semolina cake pairs perfectly with coffee or tea.

basbosa harissa

Basboosa AKA Harissa

This simple cake made with semolina and coconut is a dense, moist cake, gooey with a fragrant simple syrup. This cake has a delicate balance of citrus notes, coconut, optional rose notes, and accented with golden almonds on top.
Course Dessert
Cuisine egyptian, Middle Eastern
Servings 12 pieces


For the cake:

  • 2 c coarse semolina
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c butter or coconut oil
  • 1 c finely shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp orange zest optional
  • 1/2 cup halved almonds optional, for garnish

For the syrup:

  • 1 3/4 c water
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp orange juice
  • rind of fresh orange peel optional, for flavoring or 1 tsp rose essence, or 1 tsp orange blossom essence
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).

For the syrup

  • First make the syrup as it needs to cool and thicken and cool before pouring onto the baked cake. Pour the sugar and water into a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice and orange juice. The pectins allow the syrup to thicken, instead of caramelize into a hard candy.
  • Allow to simmer 3-5 minutes until the mixture slightly thickens. Do not leave it for too long or it will caramelize and burn. Add orange rind as it boils, or after the syrup has thickened.
  • When the liquid has reduced a bit, remove the rind if added, and add the butter and vanilla and stir well. Add rose essence, or orange blossom essence once you remove it from heat. Remove from heat once the butter has melted and allow to cool.

For the cake batter

  • For the cake, mix all the ingredients together in bowl until well combined. Cover with a towel and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Spread into a 9″ baking pan and place a halved or slivered almond on top where you will slice each square. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden. You may also top the basboosa with slices of citrus.
  • Once you remove the pan from the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the entire cake, evenly, while the cake is still hot. Allow it to absorb; you might not need to use all of the syrup. Slice into squares or diamonds, garnish with more crushed almonds or pistachios, and enjoy!


Basboosa is traditionally topped with nuts. My mom uses slivered almonds, but in Egypt I have seen crushed pistachio or hazelnuts as well. Use what you like! For a nut-free version, I use slices of fresh oranges as we have allergies in our home. Make it beautiful and top with what you like.
Keyword almonds, cake, coconut, lemon, rose, semolina, syrup
Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins

  These muffins are full of fiber and bursting with orange and blueberry juiciness. I love to bake with seasonal produce. I have a bowl of zesty juicy oranges sitting on my counter and they were perfect for these muffins . This recipe originates from […]