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