This is my all time favorite dessert! It's actually very easy to make and always manages to impress. You can eat it hot, cold, or at room temp. I usually eat it just like it is, but sometimes we'll macerate some berries and serve those over the top. If nothing else, it always turns into a source of conversation since people usually think it's either shredded wheat or coconut. In reality, it's a shredded dough.
2 lb kadayif dough
3/4 lb melted butter
1 qt heavy cream
3/4 c milk
4 heaping T cornstarch
3 T sugar
2 t vanilla
3 c sugar
1 1/2 c water
fresh lemon juice
Depending on where you live (if you have a large Greek, Armenian, Lebanese, etc. community in your area), you might be able to find the dough in the freezer section of your local market, along with the phyllo dough. Otherwise, you should be able to get it from a Middle Eastern bakery, market, or maybe even a restaurant. Lucky for me, I have a Lebanese restaurant one town over where I can get the kadayif dough. Even better than that, they have beautiful phyllo. Because they go through so much of it, I can always get it fresh - never frozen.
OK, look about your kitchen and decide what pan you want to use. If you are serving a larger group, you might want to make it in a jellyroll or other sheet pan. If you're serving a smaller group and want a thicker filling, you can use a casserole dish. The shape doesn't matter - maybe you have an oval casserole you want to bake it in. That's totally fine.
Open your dough and pull it apart, shredding it into a large bowl.
Melt the butter and pour it over the dough, rubbing it in to distribute.
Press half of the dough into the bottom of your pan and set aside.
Stir the cornstarch into the milk to dissolve; set aside.
Bring the 3T sugar, heavy cream, and light cream to a boil.
Add the milk/starch, and vanilla, stirring constantly until thickened.
Spoon the filling over the dough in the pan.
Top with remaining dough and bake at 375 until golden, about 30".
See, that wasn't hard at all! Either about 10" before it's due to come out, or right after it comes out of the oven, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon and continue to boil for about 2". You don't want to let it boil for too long, or it will turn into candy!
When the Kadayif comes out of the oven, I usually poke some holes in the top, then pour the syrup all over it. Maybe you don't need the holes, but it makes me feel better about the syrup making its way all the way through to the bottom. If you opted for a smaller pan, you might not want to use all of the syrup. You want it saturated, but not floating!
If I'm just making it for the family, I'll serve it up right out of the pan. I made this batch over the weekend for a baby shower, so I was going to cut it and and transfer the servings to pastry liners. For some reason, I decided to try cutting it into rounds and using cupcake liners. Turns out the cutter worked just fine. I used a 2 1/2" round to cut, then slid under it with a small spatula and transferred it into the liners ...
BONUS - I got to eat all the little corners! :)