At one point in my life I went on the record saying that America does dessert better than any other nation. I had to seriously rethink that claim the first time I tried knafe at a restaurant in Syria. My friend's aunt and uncle were hosting a "night before the wedding" dinner for all the guests and had designed an excellent set menu whose sweet finale was this terrific warm cheese pastry soaked in syrup.
Traditionally made with akawi cheese, which is similar to mozzarella in its ability to melt easily but with a less salty profile, knafe's mild floral sweetness is derived from the use of orange blossom water.
I ate my portion. And my husband's. And those of two other people at our table who were "too full" for dessert. Me Not Know What That Is.
One of my autumnal objectives is to learn to make knafe but until then I get my fix at A Sweet Factory, a wonderful Middle Eastern patisserie that also happens to make kick-ass baklava and mamoul.