Make these sweet kataifi nests for your next dinner party. They’re the perfect Greek dessert. Easy to assemble and they can be made ahead for stress-free entertaining.
Watch the Video Tutorial
What is Kataifi Pastry?
Kataifi pastry dough, also known as Kunafah in Middle Eastern Cuisine, is commonly used to make delicious desserts and even savory recipes. It is commonly called shredded phyllo even though its consistency is very different from phyllo. Kataifi dough is similar in texture to a soft vermicelli.
Kataifi pastry dough is sold in the freezer section of Mediterranean & middle eastern grocery stores.
- thaw the kataifi dough properly: Kataifi is sold in the freezer section and it must be thawed before using. The best way to do this is to place the box in the refrigerator at least overnight. Then, set the box at room temperature for 1-2 hours before making the dessert.
- Leave the pastry dough in its packaging: Kataifi pastry dries out quickly when exposed to air. Remove it from its packaging right before assembling the pastries and keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel. Once it dries up, there’s no saving it.
- work quickly to prevent the pastry dough from drying out. As stated in the previous tip, the dough dries out as soon as it is exposed to air. It doesn’t take long to make the nests but once you begin, try not to stop to multitask. Get help from the kids and make the nests as soon as the package is opened.
This is the perfect make-ahead dessert. The kataifi nests can be assembled a month or two ahead of time and frozen or make the dessert the day before your dinner party and store it in your refrigerator. It tastes delicious cold and at room temperature.
- Assemble the nests and place them on a baking tray.
- Brush them liberally with the melted butter
- Wrap the tray tightly in plastic wrap.
- Freeze for up to 2-3 months (Mine have never lasted longer than 1 month in the freezer 😆)
- when ready to bake, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and remove the plastic before baking. Bake as per the recipe instructions (until golden) and make the syrup in the meantime. Soak them in the syrup as soon as they come out of the oven and allow them to sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings and with Greek coffee.
- Make the kataifi nests as per the recipe’s instructions. Allow them to cool completely and cover with plastic wrap or foil. Refrigerate them overnight. When ready to serve, transfer the pastries into a serving platter and make a small batch of the syrup. About a quarter of the syrup will be enough. Pour the syrup over the nests and serve.
The options are endless! Simply garnish the sweet kataifi nests with some ground pistachios (or your favorite nuts) and serve. This is such a flavorful dessert that it does not need much embellishment. However, ice cream is a common topping in Greece. Yummy! Here are some options:
- ice cream
- whipped cream
- ground nuts
- whole toasted nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
- preserves or jam: sour cherry are my favorite but use whatever you love.
- chocolate ganache
- fresh berries
I hope that you give this recipe a try and if you do, let me know how you served it. Share pictures with me on Facebook & Instagram and I will be back here soon with another delicious recipe worth sharing. Kali Orexi!
- 1-pound (455 grams) kataifi pastry, thawed and at room temperature
- ½ pound (230 grams) unsalted butter, melted
For the Syrup:
- 4 cups (800 g) granulated sugar
- 4 cups (1 liter) water
- Half of a lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
- Chocolate ganache
- Ground salted pistachios
- Toasted hazelnuts, almonds, or any nuts
- Sour cherry preserves, jam, your favorite preserves
- Ice cream
- Whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 350 °F
Make the Syrup: Combine the sugar, water, and lemon peel in a small pot stir together and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat once the sugar has dissolved. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Mix together and set aside.
Assemble the kataifi nests:
Remove the kataifi from its packaging and loosen the strands of pastry. Keep the kataifi covered with a. damp kitchen towel so that it does not dry out.
Pull about 1-inch thick bundles of kataifi and loosen the strands. Roll the strip of kataifi around your index finger into a spiral (see the video). Use 2 fingers (index and middle fingers) to create a larger whole for the nests.
Place the nests in a baking tray next to each other.
Brush them liberally with the melted butter.
Bake on the center rack for about 30 minutes or until they are golden.
Remove them from the oven and immediately pour the warm syrup over the nests.
Set them aside to absorb the syrup. Approximately 30-45 minutes.
Garnish with ground pistachios or your favorite toppings and serve with Greek coffee. Enjoy!
Thaw the kataifi pastry properly: Thaw the kataifi (in its packaging) overnight in the refrigerator. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours before making the pastries. Do not take it out of its packaging before assembling the kataifi nests or it will dry up and crumble.
Make-Ahead Freezer Instructions: Assemble the nests and brush them with butter. Wrap the tray in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then remove the plastic to bake as per the recipe’s instructions.
Make-Ahead Instructions: Make the pastries a day ahead and store them in the refrigerator. Before serving, make a very small batch (a quarter) of syrup and drizzle it over the kataifi nests. Serve with coffee.
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