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No bake Knafeh Cheesecake

no bake knafeh cheesecake closeup

I have been thinking about recipe developing this cheesecake for a long time! I have had so much love with my Nescafe cake which requires no baking whatsoever that I decided to make another Middle Eastern dessert with a modern twist that requires no baking. Knafeh is a very popular dessert with many variations across the Middle East but the most popular would be the one with cheese which Nablus, Palestine is known for. I actually have that variation on my blog posts already. This is my take on an American cheesecake but using the shredded phyllo dough for the crust and topping. I hope you enjoy it!

Servings: 8-12 slices

Total Time: 13 hours (12+ of it being refrigeration)

Crust Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of shredded phyllo (Kataifi) * 1 package of shredded phyllo will be good for this whole dessert

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of knafeh dye (optional)

1 stick of unsalted melted butter

4 tbsp of simple syrup

Topping Ingredients

2 cups of shredded phyllo (Kataifi)

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp knafeh dye (optional)

4 tbsp of butter

1-2 tbsp of white sugar

1/3 cup crushed pistachios

Filling Ingredients

3 – 8 oz. packages of full fat cream cheese (the blocks) room temp.

1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream

3 tbsp of powdered sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla flavoring


First, work on the crust. Place shredded phyllo into the processor and pulse for a few seconds until finely shredded. Do all the shredded phyllo at this step for both the crust and topping to save time.

Place 2 1/2 cups of that phyllo into a bowl and add the rest of the crust ingredients to it and mix well. If necessary, add more phyllo for your crust. Reserve the rest of the phyllo for the topping.

Using a 10-inch springform pan, add the crust to the bottom of the pan. At first, us your hands to mold the crust mixture into the shape of the pan going up the sides a little bit too. Then use the back of a cup to press down firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Let it be even for better presentation. Place this in the freezer so the crust firms up before adding the filling.

Now, work on the filling. Make sure the bowl and whisk you will be using are chilled. Place them in the freezer for at least 10 min. Then add the heavy whipping cream to the bowl. Whisk on medium-high speed until you achieve a fluffy whipped cream. This can take about 5 minutes. Then set aside the whipped cream in a separate bowl.

Using that same bowl and whisk, beat the cream cheese on medium speed with the white sugar until velvety smooth. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and keep whisking on medium speed for another minute or so. Fold in the whipped cream gently into the cream cheese mixture. This way it remains light and airy.

Take the pan out of the freezer and add the filling on top of the crust. Use a spatula to spread out the filling well and an offset spatula to have clean even smooth lines. Use a paper towel to go around the edge and clean up the edges. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the fridge overnight or at least 12 hours for a velvety smooth consistency that will keep its shape.

Saute the rest of the phyllo in a pan with butter and the rest of its ingredients except the pistachio and sugar. Do this on medium heat for 10-15 minutes until its lightly crisped. At this point, mix in the sugar with a spoon. Then set it aside.

Once cheesecake is fully chilled, use a spatula or butter knife to go around the edges gently loosening it up. Then take it out gently from its springform pan. Top with the crisp phyllo and pistachios. Serve with simple syrup.

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  1. So just to be clear, you mix the whipped cream and the cream cheese mixture together to form the filling correct? Or do you put the whipped cream on top of the cream cheese mixture?

    1. Hey! You will fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture for the filling. I just updated it. thanks!

        1. Hello,
          So, usually a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream into the cream cheese. Meaning dont over mix it; you want it to remain light and fluffy so work with it gently.

    1. No, it doesn’t require it but if you prefer you can toast it up a bit just like the topping before making the curst.

  2. Hi should the topping be put on after the cheesecake has set for the 12 hours or can you put it on top to set with the cheesecake itself?

  3. I can’t believe how easy and delicious this recipe was. I made it in individual dessert cups for my friends dinner party and it was a big hit! Can’t wait to make this again

  4. Absolutely delicious!! i made this for a ramadan dessert and it was such a hit. Can’t wait to make it again!

  5. Pingback: No Bake Desserts for Ramadan | Eid Collective

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