Kadayif Two Ways: Cream Kadayif, Kadayif with Cheese


 Kadayif is finely shredded phyllo dough which is used in many popular Middle Eastern desserts. In this case, it is also the name of the dessert itself. Kadayif dough is commonly available in one-pound packages in either the refrigerator or freezer section in Middle Eastern shops and international markets. This classic recipe for the favorite Cream Kadayif is courtesy of the late Madelyn Markarian, and is reprinted from A Harvest of Recipes Cookbook published by the Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church in Fresno, California.

Cream Kadayif


Simple Syrup:

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

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1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice


1/2 lb. unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1 lb. package kadayif dough (shredded phyllo dough), defrosted and at room temperature

Cream Filling: (Yields about 5 cups of cream filling)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 pint (2 cups) half and half

1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Simple Syrup: Mix sugar and water together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar. Take off heat, add lemon juice and stir. Allow syrup to cool completely.

Cream Filling: In a large bowl, add cold milk and cornstarch, stir constantly to completely dissolve the cornstarch. Transfer the milk mixture to a large saucepan. Add the half and half, whipping cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Set aside.

Dough: It is important to defrost kadayif dough overnight in the refrigerator and not at room temperature in order to prevent it from getting soggy. If kadayif dough gets soggy, it will be difficult to work with and less crispy when baked.

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter. Shred/cut dough into small 1-1/2 to 2” pieces. Stir in melted butter and mix well. Spread 1/2 of dough in bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan. Pour 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cream mixture over dough. (Note: Save any remaining filling to serve as pudding.) Top with remaining dough.

Bake for 20 minutes on the lowest oven rack. If not golden, move pan to top rack and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer. Lower heat to 300° degrees and bake until golden brown. Pour cooled syrup over hot kadayif. Allow to cool, then refrigerate. When ready to serve, cut into squares and garnish with ground pistachios or walnuts, if desired. (Note: You can bake this dish a day ahead, then reheat immediately before serving and pour the syrup on.)

Serves 24.

Kadayif with Cheese*


 1 lb. package kadayif dough (shredded phyllo dough), defrosted and at room temperature

1 1/2 cubes unsalted butter

1 1/2 – 2 cups grated Jack Cheese


Melt butter and mix with kadayif dough. Put 1 layer of dough in a 3-quart baking dish. Layer with the cheese. Cover with remaining dough. Bake about 40 minutes at 350°. Pour cooled syrup over hot kadayif and serve.

Simple Syrup:

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1 lemon peel and juice of 1 lemon

Bring sugar, water and lemon peel to a boil. Keep stirring till the sugar has dissolved and water is clear. Add the lemon juice and leave to simmer for 7-10 minutes. Leave to cool slightly. Remove lemon peel.

*The is one of the many treasured recipes published in the Armenian and Selected Favorite Recipes Cookbook by the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Trinity Guild (now Ladies’ Guild) in 1970. The cost for each cookbook is $20.00, including $5.00 for shipping. Make check payable to: Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. To order, contact: nazik@holytrinityfresno.org.

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