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Ashtello (Panna Cotta) is one of the most popular and simplest no bake cream desserts on my page. I FINALLY put together a video for everyone who had requested it!
This is a light dessert perfect for family occasions, or whenever you need something quick and refreshing. You can recreate this dessert in vegan, low-carb, or sugar free forms. You must definitely try it!
What is Ashtello (Panna Cotta)?
Ashtello is a combination of two different rich and satisfying desserts: Ashta, which is Middle-Eastern smooth clotted cream, and jello which is a gelatin-based fruit-flavored dessert enjoyed by millions all over the world because of its smooth jiggly texture.
So, Ashtello combines the rich creamy taste of ashta and the fun jiggly, Jello-like appearance and feel.
Almost Too Beautiful To Eat!
How Ashtello (Panna Cotta) came to be
Ashtello is simply a twist on a known favorite: panna cotta. But what is panna cotta? It is a basic Italian cream pudding made of dairy, and thickened with gelatin.
Its literal meaning is “cooked cream” and it’s made using heavy cream, unlike its counterparts crème caramel or crème brulée which are made of milk. This makes panna cotta a pudding much richer than the traditional ones.
What is Ashta or Middle-Eastern cream pudding?
Ashta, or Kashta/Qashta, is a Middle-Eastern versatile cream dessert. There are quite a few ways you can make ashta, but traditionally it is made by heating lightly sweetened full-fat milk, orange blossom, rose water, and lemon juice which are slowly simmered until thick.
You can also use a different recipe that includes heating milk with flour, cornstarch, heavy cream, rose water, orange blossom, and vanilla then simmering until thick.
Uses Of Ashta or Middle-Eastern cream pudding
With Ashta being the whipped cream of the Middle East, it is very likely to be used as a either as base or a filling for many Ramadan sweets.
In addition, it can be used as a dip for a fruit platter, a spread or a filling for pastries, and to stuff cakes or dough. Plus, you can eat it as it is with a little honey or simple syrup on top!
Fun Variations On Ashtello
While it’s good as it is, you can still get very creative with ashtello and come up with even more exquisite desserts that will tempt your taste buds!
For instance, you could make something very similar to the Arabic sweet “Aish El Saraya”.
You first lay chunks of bread -chop the edges for extra smoothness- at the bottom of a Pyrex baking dish, then press until you have a flat surface.
To make it even better, wet the bread with simple syrup, wait for a few minutes then add your cooled ashtello mixture on top. Sprinkle with some pistachio and drizzle with more simple syrup (for extra sweetness), pop into the fridge then enjoy!
For a gluten-free version, you can use biscuits or crackers of your choice. Crush them using a food processor, then press them onto the bottom as done previously. I recommend you drizzle this layer with milk!
Another great addition would be a packet of jello instead of gelatin, for a kick of your favorite flavors!
Ways To Serve Ashtello
If you ask me what my favorite part about making this easy dessert is, my answer will always be, decorating! I truly enjoy garnishing it with different toppings, I also find the milky color very tempting as it blends well with a variety of colors.
This is why fruits like blueberries, strawberries, or even minced mango are one of the best toppings to go on your ashtello. Not to mention the several syrups you could use whether it’s rose simple syrup, chocolate, or even caramel. They all give that shine we’re looking for!
However, If you’re not in the mood for fruits, I suggest you go for the magic ingredient, nuts! Pistachio, pine nuts, and crushed cashews will do the job. Don’t forget raisins! They definitely give you that spark of sweetness in case you like ashtello with no simple syrup on top.
Frequently Asked Questions
It needs 6 hours to harden, or better if left over night.
While refrigerated, it can last up to five days.
You can use 6 tablespoons of corn starch instead of gelatin, but it won’t give the same jiggling effect. The ashtello will have a smoother texture instead.
Ingredients For Ashtello (Panna Cotta)
- half and half or heavy cream
- whole milk
- sugar or xylitol (sugar free)
- rose water
- blossom water
Ingredients For Simple Syrup – Atir
- blossom water
- a lemon
Steps to make the best Ashtello (Panna Cotta)
First, in a pot on high heat, add 4 cups of half and half or heavy cream, sugar, rose water and blossom water until hot. Don’t allow the milk to boil.
Next, in a bowl, whisk 5 tablespoons of gelatin with the 2 cups of milk until it dissolves completely. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the pot of hot milk and whisk then remove off of heat.
After that, pour the hot mixture into your mold-I used a cake mold- and allow it to cool for 20 minutes, then refrigerate until firm. Once ashtello is ready and firm, place the pan in a hot water bath in your sink for about 10 seconds or a tad more.
Shake it around, once it becomes looser and you see it slipping, flip on a plate to serve!
How to make Simple Syrup (also known as atir in Arabic)
Place all ingredients in a small pot. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Finally, it should have a thin syrup consistency.
Recipes You Might Want To Try
- Strawberry Cheesecake Roll
- Fluffy Shortcake Yogurt Bars
- Cinnamon & S’mores Cheesecake Trifle
- Osmaliyi – Shredded Phillo and Cream
- Halawet El Riz- Rice and Cheese Cream
- Best Sweet Potato Casserole
- Apple Crisp
- Date Stuffed Brioche
- Clotted Cream – AKA Ashta
- Easy One Bowl Banana Bread
- In a pot on high heat; add 4 cups of half and half or heavy cream, sugar, rose water and blossom water until hot. Don’t allow the milk to boil.
- In a bowl, whisk 5 tablespoons of gelatin with 2 cups of milk until it dissolves completely. Pour the gelatin mixture back into the pot of hot milk and whisk. Remove off of heat.
- Pour the hot mixture into your mold (I used a cake mold). Allow it to cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate until firm (6 hours or best if left over night). Once ashtello is ready and firm, place the pan in a hot water bath in your sink for about 10 seconds or tad more. Shake it around, once it becomes looser and you see it slipping, flip on a plate to serve!
Simple Syrup- Atir
- Place all ingredients in a small pot. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. It should have a thin syrup consistency.