Bertha's Knafe: A Middle Eastern Dessert by Way of Colombia

I grew up eating knafe after festive dairy meals at many friends’ houses. Some were made with mozzarella, making them delightfully chewy, some were made with a cornstarch-thickened filling which made them more like a French pastry, and some eschewed butter and dairy in favor of an abundance of nuts in order to make them parve, or non-dairy. But the best one was always the one that my mom made, which she learned from my paternal grandmother, who got the recipe from her best friend, Bertha. My grandmother, Lydia, and Bertha grew up together in Beirut, moved to Colombia during World War II, and remained best friends throughout their entire lives. I began making knafe after I graduated from college, moved into my own apartment, and wanted to make something that tasted like home. I never realized how easy it was to make, the most challenging part being finding the ingredients that the recipe called for. This knafe has a wonderful combination of crunch and creaminess, of sweetness and richness, of floral notes and a nutty finish. For me, it’s a taste not only of home but also of centuries of women who nourished their family and friends through the power of food. 

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