Friday, July 2, 2010

Lebanese Fruit Cocktail with Fragrant Avocado and Mango Purées and Ashta

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Lebanese Fruit Cocktail Glass
It doesn't get any more "Summery" than this dessert.  A very classic Lebanese concoction found at every street corner café in Beirut, blending local and regional fruits into a fresh and healthy dessert that you can really sink your teeth into.  It's an absolute favorite in our house, even for the kids.
It was around 10:30 in the evening the other night,  my husband and I were both quietly working on our laptops, when we simultanously glance at each other with the same question: "Do you want a snack?".
I had the perfect snack in mind Cocktail She'af as we call it which translate literally to cocktail in pieces.  
He said jokingly: "What's the biggest size bowl you got?" I took it literally and put together two full dessert plates of cocktail she'af with extras of everything! And I caramelized a little sugar on top with a blow torch. Heavenly.  However, in hindsight, I would have shrunk the size of the serving at that late hour in the evening (late for me, guys!).  It was hard to get to sleep and I finally gave up on in after four short hours.   
Lebanese Fruit Cocktail Brulé 
2
Back to the dessert.  Lebanese Fruit Cocktail has several components: 1. Seasonal Fruits, 2. Avocado Purée, 3. Mango Purée, 4. Strawberry Coulis, 5. Ashta (Lebanese clotted cream), 6. Almonds and Pistachios. (Typically there would be another layer of purée made from Guava, which I have not included in this recipe).
In Lebanon, Ashta is made from skimming the thick cream off the top of raw milk, and it's usually bought not made at home.  It would take a very large amount of raw milk to get the amount of Ashta needed for a recipe, so most people will make a knock off version of it at home (recipe below), using heavy cream and milk and some thickeners or buy the real thing.
By layering all the fruits and purées and ashta, the flavors marry and the result is a delicious, creamy, sweet and crunchy treat.  In fact, for a large party, I would turn this into a "Fruit Cocktail" Bar, by displaying all the ingredients and some guidance, then having the guests make their own.  I know it would be a hit. Let me know what you think. Happy 4th of July !!
Fruits and Berries Quattro 
Fruit Mousses 2


Lebanese Fruit Cocktail 
Brulé

Finished Plate

Lebanese Fruit Cocktail
Fruit List
Blueberries
Blackberries
Pineapples
Peaches
Bananas
Cherries
Peel, slice, cut the fruits into bites size pieces and place aside for assembly

Simple Syrup
1 cup vanilla sugar
1 cup water
1/4 tsp orange zest 
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp rose water
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, once all sugar is melted, turn off heat and set aside to cool before using.

Fragrant Avocado Purée
1 avocados, meat only
5 tbsp simple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup water (adjust as needed)
1 tbsp orange blossom water
In a blender, puré all ingredients to get a creamy runny final product.  If too thick, add a splash of water at a time. Set aside for assembly.

Fragrant Mango Purée
1 mangos, flesh only
3 tbsp water 
1 tbsp simple syrup
1 tbsp orange blossom water
Blend together to get a creamy runny final product.  If too thick, adjust consistency with water. Set aside for assembly.

Strawberry Coulis
2 cups of strawberries
2-3 tbsp water
Purée in a blender, then pass through a sieve.  Depending on the sweetness of the strawberries, replace 1 tbsp with simple syrup.  Set aside for assembly. 

Ashta
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 white bread slices, edges trimmed
3 tbsp simple syrup
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp orange blossom water
1 tsp rose water
Dash of sea salt
Dilute cornstarch in cold milk. In a small pot, break up bread into small pieces, pour cream and milk mixture over it, and bring to a simmer.  Stir occasionally to avoid scalding the mixture.  Add all other ingredients and mix well.  Keep stirring until mixture becomes "pastry cream" thick. Remove from heat and let cool.  Set aside for assembly.
To assemble the dessert, layer fruits, drizzle strawberry coulis, mango and avocado purées, top with a generous serving of ashta, toasted almond slivers and raw pistachios.

10 comments:

  1. I love the colours of this dessert and you've even slayed me with the garnish of lemon verbena!

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  2. WOW! Love love this dessert! Looks so delicious and the photos are beautiful. Happy Holiday weekend!

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  3. Nothing screams summer more than this. Reminds me of a hot summer day in Beirut savoring what's commonly referred to as "cocktail shi'af".

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  4. It looks beautiful.... and delicious!

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  5. Hi dear, this is the first time i 'visit' your blog.. everything here is look nice ! and can't wait to try the cocktail. :)

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  6. Wael Masri (the husband)12:44 AM, July 10, 2010

    This snack also makes for a light, refreshing and most satisfying summer meal, especially when piled high on a large dinner plate. Yummy!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Inspired by a great restaurant in Montreal, I make a version of this as a brunch item (is that wrong?). There's no simple syrup in my adaptation, and I used yogurt cheese (strained homemade yogurt) in place of the ashta, but I didn't know what I was doing.. Thanks very much for posting this!

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  8. Love this. Better than the local restaurants. I cheated and used store bought ashta but home made would be better I'm sure but we are also gluten free so that rules the bread out. I used a little mango nectar instead of the fragrant mango purée since I didn't have mangos on hand. For the fragrant avocado purée I added more than http://www.food.com/recipe/authentic-middle-eastern-syrup-for-pastries-asl-480968 by mistake and it was too sweet, so stick to the amount or maybe less. I used fresh strawberries, banana & a cherry on topfor the fruit. I also used both chopped pistachios & slivered almonds plus a good drizzle of pretty good liquid honey and some http://www.bakersroyale.com/basic-baking-series/baking-basics-how-to-make-homemade-dulce-de-leche instead of caramelizing sugar with a blow torch, to garnish. I will make this encore!

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