I dug my spoon into the cup trying to find the bottom layer of cinnamon and cardamom-spiced dates and then bit into a spoonful of bliss. I didn’t really know it would turn out this way. Basically, the plan was a recipe for kunafa with mangoes and coconut cream but I quickly realized that mangoes are not in season yet and so is my plan. I have never been a fan of dates kunafa though so even I am still wondering why I decided to try this out but I’m so glad I did!
But wait, is kunafa even dairy-free? Yes, it is! Just check when you’re buying it that it’s free from butter, ghee or milk. Now I won’t even claim that kunafa is “healthy” but there are ways to cut back on the empty calories with it and replace them with more nutritious ingredients. I wanted to do this free from refined sugar and so I did! The sharbat (treacle) used is made from honey and the whipped cream isn’t sweetened at all.
Of course I thought I came up with a kunafa parfait but as I ran to google and to my surprise, kunafa parfait existed long before it happened in my kitchen! Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, especially since it was completely improvised, so I hope you try it and let us know how it turned out!
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 40-50 minutes
For the kunafa
For the dates paste
For the whipped cream
1 can of coconut cream (you can use coconut milk but never the light version)
1 tbsp of honey (optional, I personally didn’t use it)
The night before (or 8 hours earlier): Place the can of coconut cream/milk in the fridge. Make sure it doesn’t move or shake.
Step 1: Place the bowl and beaters in the freezer and preheat your oven to a medium setting.
Step 2: We start with the treacle! Pour the honey and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Squeeze half a lemon on it and let it boil until it thickens slightly and then remove from the heat. This usually takes about 20 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t thicken as much as the regular sugar treacle does! If honey thickens too much, it will thicken a lot more once you set it to cool! As soon as you remove it from the heat, transfer to a container and set it aside to cool.
Step 3: Grease a small oven pan with coconut oil. Take your kunafa out of the freezer and take handfuls and rub them until they crumble. Take all the crumbled kunafa and press it into a pan. After you’ve pressed it all very well, pour the rest of the coconut oil on it, making sure you distribute it well. Place the kunafa in the oven for about 15 minutes or until it’s golden and then flip it and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes and then take it out. Once you take the kunafa out, pour the treacle over it and let it cool.
Step 4: While the kunafa is in the over, place the dates and the water in a saucepan and then empty the cardamom pods and let the mixture simmer until the dates are very soft. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Add the cinnamon right before you turn down the heat and then let it cool slightly before placing it in a blender or food processor. In a minute or so it’ll form a delicious date paste.
Step 5: Now that the kunafa and date paste are ready, it’s time to make the coconut whipped cream. Take the bowl and beaters out of the freezer and the coconut can out of the fridge (without shaking it). Scoop the solidified coconut cream out of the can and leave the liquid. Whip the coconut for 2-3 minutes until it becomes light and fluffy. If you’re sweetening it then add the sugar or honey sometime in the middle of whipping it!*
Step 6: Now its time to assemble! You can get creative with this but here’s what I did. In 4 glasses I placed one tbsp of the date paste, one tbsp of coconut cream, one-two tbsp of kunafa (crumble it again!) and one tbsp of coconut cream. To make it look pretty, I sprinkled some cinnamon and chia seeds.
* I used ¾ of the can and left a little bit of the solid to mix it with the water, which I used later to make soup!
This is one of the best things that happened in our kitchen honestly so please let us know if you give it a go!