Delicious Kataifi squares with a spiced walnut filling. So easy to put together!
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These kataifi squares are truly the lazy version of classic Kataifi rolls. It’s so easy to make compared to the rolls but still has all the delicious flavors. If you’re unfamiliar, Kataifi rolls are very similar in taste to baklava, with nuts, cinnamon, cloves, and juicy honey syrup. However, instead of phyllo sheets, the rolls are made with Kataifi, a vermicelli-style shredded phyllo. It’s really delicious with a lot of texture, but it takes effort and time. I don’t always have either of those. Ha! So, I made Kataifi squares! You can make it a day ahead and surprise your crowd with this delicious twist.
Why your crowd will love it
Crisp, buttery kataifi top
Tender walnut crunch
Warm, spicy cinnamon and cloves
Juicy vanilla honey syrup
Soft, syrupy kataifi bottom
Every delicious bite tastes just like kataifi rolls, except you can make it in a snap!
Everything you need
- Kataifi pastry -thawed and at room temperature
- Unsalted butter -melted
For the Walnut filling:
- Ground walnuts
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground cloves
For the Syrup:
- Granulated sugar
- Juice of half of a lemon
- Pure vanilla extract
- Honey –Greek honey is the best and most flavor
- Homemade whipped cream
- Ice cream
Tips on working with kataifi pastry
You can find kataifi in the frozen section of your Mediterranean market and probably online. Since it comes frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge, and set it on the counter at room temperature for 1-2 hours. That way, it will be easy to handle to make your squares. You can use fresh kataifi, but it’s kind of hard to find. Either way, using a large bowl, separate the kataifi strands as much as possible to help the squares be nice and light. You don’t have to worry about breaking it because it will all just go in the pan. Then, make sure you toss the kataifi well in the melted butter so that each strand is coated in butter.
How to make Kataifi Squares or the lazy version of classic Kataifi rolls
Make the Syrup
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice.
- Bring to a boil and mix together.
- Once the sugar has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and honey.
- Set aside to cool completely.
Make the Nut Filling
- Toss the ground walnuts, cinnamon, and clove together in a bowl until the nuts are coated in the spices.
- Taste and add more cinnamon if desired.
- Set aside.
Prepare the Kataifi
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
- Remove the kataifi pastry from the packaging and separate the strands.
- Place the kataifi into a large bowl and pour the butter on top.
- Toss to coat the kataifi.
- Take half of the prepared kataifi and place it in an even layer in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch (23 by 33 cm) baking pan.
- Press it down so that it’s compact.
- Spread the walnut mixture evenly on top and press it down again.
- Top with the remaining kataifi.
- Wet your hands and press the kataifi down.
- You can sprinkle about a half cup of water on top so the kataifi lays flat. This will make serving it easier.
- Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
- The kataifi is ready when the top is golden.
- As soon as it comes out of the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the pastry.
- Set aside to cool and until the syrup has been absorbed -about 1-2 hours.
- Cut into 12 equal portions.
The hardest part about this dessert is smelling it while the syrup absorbs. It smells buttery, clove, cinnamon amazing! In Greece, Kataifi is commonly served with custard, whipped cream, or ice cream on top. You can serve it warm or cold, but my family loves for me to serve my kataifi squares warm, topped with ice cream or whipped cream, and sprinkled with cinnamon. If you prefer it cold, make it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator. It tends to dry out easily, so I like to make extra syrup to pour over it to keep it juicy. I can’t wait for you to try it. Kali Orexi!
More Classic Greek Syrupy Desserts:
- 1 pound (500g) kataifi pastry, thawed and at room temperature
- 1/2 pound (225g) unsalted butter, melted
For the Walnut filling:
- 4 cups (400g) ground walnuts
- 2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
For the Syrup:
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups water
- juice of half of a lemon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup honey
- homemade whipped cream
- iced cream
Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
Make the Syrup: In a saucepan combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and mix together. Once the sugar has melted remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and honey. Stir together and set aside to cool completely.
Make the Nut Filling: Add the ground walnuts, cinnamon, and clove to a bowl and toss together until the nuts are coated in the spices. Add more cinnamon if desired. Set aside.
Prepare the Kataifi:
Remove the kataifi pastry from teh packaging and separate the strands. place the kataifi into a large bowl and pour the butter on top. Toss to coat the kataifi.
Take half of the prepared kataifi and place it in an even layer in the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33 cm) baking pan. Press it down so taht it's compact. Spread the walnut mixture evenly on top and press it down again. Top with the remaining kataifi. Wet your hands and press the katifi down. You can sprinkle about a half cup of water on top so that the kataifi lays flat. This will make serving it easier.
Bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. The kataifi is ready when the top is golden.
As soon as it comes out of the oven pour the cooled syrup over the pastry. Set aside to cool and until the syrup has absorbed. About 1-2 hours.
Cut into 12 equal portions and serve topped with ice cream or whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon.
The kataifi can be served warm or cold. It can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. I like to make some extra syrup to pour over it before serving so that it is juicy. Kataifi tends to dry out easily.
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