The Most Delicious Ice Cream You’ll Meet!

I’d like to add two fantastically yummy words to your vocabulary today: ASHTA and MASTIC GUM.

Ashta..

a word that will make most Lebanese people swoon.  Ashta is the creamy foundation of many Lebanese Desserts. It is made with either dry milk, or for a richer flavor half and half.

Ashta is used as a filling for cannelloni-like soft shells, shredded phyllo ‘bird’s nests’, and between layers of syrup laden pastry…drool… But WAIT!… what am I doing?? This is a blog about healthy, only good-fat, no sugar recipes!

Remember Houdini?  (What brought him here?) He did the impossible, that’s what brought him here.  And I am determined to do the same. To attempt to offer you some decadent delicious dishes served on a plate labeled “Approved for Good Health”!

Well, pull up your shorts and get ready for a taste sensation…

Ashta Ice Cream is heaven on earth. Lebanese ice cream is made with mastic gum, which lends it a gelato-like texture. It comes in many flavors and is served in narrow cones.

Thanks to Anissa’s blog for photo.


Mastic Gum

This is a resin made from the pistacia lentiscus tree. The mastic plant originated in the Mediterranean nations in the south of Europe, northern portions of Africa, and the Middle East. The gum has a variety of uses in cooking, art, and alternative medicine.

For cooking, mastic gum requires boiling in hot water or another liquid, because the hardened resin will not dissolve in cold water. It comes in little ‘crystals’ and can be crushed into a powder to add to puddings.

One of Mom’s trademarks was chewing mastic gum, which is quite prevalent in the Middle East.  It wasn’t until very recently that I found out that chewing  mastic gum prevents tooth decay, and is an ingredient in some toothpastes and mouthwashes.

If you chew the crystals, add a tiny bit of beeswax to soften the gum. (Mom would nibble at the end of a candle!)

Back to the business of ASHTA and dessert!

Since milk products are off our list (for you vegans and cancer survivors).. we will use non-dairy ice cream as the base.

1 pint Vanilla flavored soy, coconut or rice milk Ice Cream
1/4 c. Orange Blossom water ( Mazaher)
1/4 c. Rose water ( Maward)
1 c. finely chopped Pistachios
1/2 tsp. crushed Mastic gum

Crush the Mastic gum in a mortar and pestle till it becomes very fine (almost powdery).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer ice cream to a bowl.  Add the flavored waters, mastic and 3/4 of the pistachios.

Mix well, but don’t over melt ice cream.

Transfer to a round cake pan. Sprinkle remaining pistachios on top of ice cream. Cover with wax paper and freeze for 2 hours or overnight.

Take out of pan and store in a freezable container.  Serve in plain cones or individual cups.

~ Sahtein! 

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18 thoughts on “The Most Delicious Ice Cream You’ll Meet!

  1. I’ve never been able to find mastic gum, I’ve been wanting to work with it for over a year now. This recipe looks amazing! I hope to find mastic gum sometime soon!

    • Do try it if you can..it’s astoundingly refreshing.
      The batch I made yesterday didn’t make it past 9:oo pm. :D Making more today, only with mint chopped into it. Thanks for commenting. :)

  2. Looks like I have another ingredient to add to my shopping list! This sounds delicious.
    I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award (even though you have received it before,) because your blog really brings the word “versatile” to life! Thank you for sharing and know that you are appreciated!

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  6. I am so extremely excited to try this recipe. I have not had Ashta ice cream since a visit to Montreal 5 years ago, and previous to that since leaving Lebanon in 1986. I went dairy and gluten free 2 years ago and my dreams of having it again went down the drain…until I stumbled upon your blog. Thank you!!! My dad is at the Middle Eastern store at the moment getting the Mastic Gum. Can’t wait to try it. Are there other favors I can incorporate? I remember it came in different varieties….Almond, perhaps?

    • Mireille, It makes me happy to know that you will enjoy this version of Ashta. It is one of the foods I miss most about not being in LEbanon… but this is such a close flavor and texture. To answer your question about other flavors.. the answer is YES! Grind almonds, or pistachios and add them to the Ashta for a nutty version.. or mash mango (or berries), or add coconut. Another favorite is chocolate… I melt 85% dark chocolate and add it. You don’t want to add to much liquid. Sahtein, and pls let me know how you like the recipe.

      • Sounds great! My dad has yet to stop by with the Mastic… Waiting patiently to try all the versions! Thank you again.

  7. I am going to look for mastic gum. I live in a farm community, and groceries are primarily standard fare and no exotics likely to be had. I love the new recipes for half and half ice creams homemade in 10 minutes or less, by putting an ice cream mix in a quart zip lock baggie, and ice & salt in a gallon size zipnlock bag. Put the cooled mix in the small bag into the middle of the large bag & gently toss or mash. Whit in about 6 to 7 minutes, you will have a personal size amount of firm ice cream. The large bag can be put in the freezer & reused, making the next batch in less than 5 minutes! These recipes use half and half, sugar, vanilka, & no eggs. Great fun for children! Georgia C.

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