Ghazal Beirut Ice Cream Cake
A Lebanese restaurant speciality turned into full cake form! Elastic mastic ice cream layer topped with Arabic cotton candy and showered with pistachios. This 3-ingredient recipe could not be easier to make!
This ice cream cake is laughably easy that I’m almost embarrassed to call it a “recipe.”
I love making more involved, multi-step recipes from time to time like this crazy ice cream burger or that imploding chocolate bomb, but when I’m fasting all day and the weather is eleventy hundred outside, a quick, cool dessert is more than welcome.
Enter this 2 ingredient (3 if you count the pistachio sprinkle) ice cream cake: Very little work, big on the taste and HUGE on the wow factor!
And the secret that its made from 2 supermarket ingredients smashed together, could stay between you and me:)
Sticking with the Middle Eastern theme taking over the blog, in spirit of our (Egyptians) Ramadani traditions, and in an attempt to cool down from the scorching heat of summer, I thought of nothing more fitting that an Arabic style ice cream.
This ice cream cake is the ‘caked’ version of a popular dessert item I’ve had at Lebanese restaurants, called Ghazal Beirut. Arabic for “Weave of Beirut”. ‘Weave’ here refers to the wool-like strands of the cotton candy topping the dessert. And ‘Beirut,’ is duh…capital of Lebanon, which, if I’m not mistaken, the birthplace of this dessert. Don’t take my word for it though, as I’ve been also told that it originated in Syria.
At restaurants, it is plated in charming individual servings, with the cotton candy wrapped around a scoop of ice cream. It’s a thing of beauty but not a practical one if you’re serving a crowd. But this one’s got your back.
So let’s talk more about what Ghazal Beirut is, shall we…
If you’ve tried this dessert at a restaurant, then you’re probably already in love with this ice cream cake, because you and I both know that the original it’s quite spectacular.
As for the those who are lost and have zero clue at what this sheep’s back-looking cake is all about, let me hook you up…
Ghazal Beirut is simply made up of 2 things: Mastic (Mistika) ice cream and Lebanese cotton candy. And a sprinkling of pistachios for good measure.
The flavor combination and textural contrast is…DYNAMITE!
Trust me, I’m not advertising for Hawaii brand. They just happened to be what I used this time around:)))
Mastic is a very common flavoring used in many Arabic dishes; both sweet and savory. It’s also known as Arabic gum and its “a resin obtained from the mastic tree.” I copied this straight from Wikipedia and I have now idea what resin is, so don’t ask. All I know is that mastic is this bonkers awesome yellow pebble-looking thingy that gives food a special touch! So anyway, the ice cream used here is flavored with it. Mastic ice cream has an elastic texture, signature of Arabic and Turkish ice creams. I don’t know how to explain it, but its….just….amazing? How’s that for a description? I’m really informative, I know. LOL! If you can’t find mastic ice cream in your country, I stated some alternatives in the recipe box.
As for the Arabic cotton candy…it’s really just similar but not identical in taste to regular cotton candy; has more depth of flavor, as opposed to straight up sugar. It’s also denser and has more chew to it, silkier and will melt in your mouth, but it won’t disappear in thin air like the regular one does. Which means that it could stay on the cake for hours and won’t dissolve or go anywhere. Awesome! Right? Pashmak (Persian fairy floss), made from sesame, is its cousin, more available worldwide and would make a perfect substitution.
I almost didn’t take any step-by-step photos for this post, because I didn’t feel a “recipe” like this needed any, but I love you…what can I say?
So here I’ve lined a springform pan with a parchment paper round and a sheet of acetate around the sides. Then secured the end of the acetate with a little tape. You don’t really have to go out of your way to get the acetate if you don’t have it, but it really makes releasing the cake from the pan a breeze.
Slightly softened mastic ice cream goes in, then smoothed out into a level layer. You’ll then stick a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and freeze the cake until super solid. Go for overnight if you can.
Fast forward a few hours, you’ll then crack open the pan, flip the cake upside down, remove the bottom and peel the parchment. If the acetate looks squished down, reinvent, right side up onto a cake board and back onto the cake stand.
Fluff the cotton candy right on top, piling it nice and high.
Then shower it with pistachios! Let it rain!
Wait a minute…is that it? Something feels wrong. Great desserts are not supposed to be that easy.
Hmmmm…how about you add a little bow?
And shooting pictures of ice cream outdoors in summer, is not a very smart idea. Honey or rose water simple syrup on Ghazal Beirut Ice Cream Cake, on the other hand? Genius.
- 2 (900ml/ 2pints each) containers Mastic ice cream, I used Hawaii brand *(see note for substitutions)
- 1 (300g/ 10 1/2oz) container Lebanese cotton candy (Esh el Bulbul) *(see note for substitutions)
- 1/2 cup (57g/ 2oz) pistachios, (or more if you like) coarsely chopped
- Line the bottom of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan with a parchment paper round (skip this step if you plan on not removing the pan's removable bottom during serving).
- Line the sides of the pan with an acetate sheet (or any pliable plastic sheet that could be peeled later on) and secure the end with a piece of tape; the acetate is not necessary but helps the ice cream cake release easily from the sides of the pan and also for a cleaner presentation.
- Scoop out the ice cream from the containers and transfer to the prepared pan. Using a large spoon, smooth out the ice cream into a level layer. (If the ice cream is too cold & solid for this step, allow it to soften slightly at room temperature before doing so).
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap right over the surface of the ice cream and transfer to the freezer until completely solid (at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight).
- When ready to serve, remove the removable ring of the pan.
- If you haven't lined the pan with parchment paper then simply transfer the cake to a serving platter and proceed with step 7. If you did line the pan with parchment paper, then flip the cake upside down on the serving platter or cake stand, and remove the removable bottom of the pan. Peel the parchment paper and if the acetate looks squished in the bottom, flip right side up onto a cake round, then back on the serving platter or cake stand. If the acetate is not clean enough, peel it off and wrap a new one around the cake.
- Pile the Lebanese cotton candy right on top of the cake, fluffing it up as you do. Sprinkle the cotton candy with the pistachios. If desired, add a ribbon or baker's twine around the acetate for a cute presentation.
- To serve, remove the ribbon, peel a bit of the acetate and cut into wedges. Store leftovers, covered, in the freezer. The cotton candy will freeze well for several hours, but will eventually get slightly sticky from the humidity of the freezer; still good though.
- Elastic Turkish style ice cream like dondurma could be substituted for the mastic ice cream. Alternatively, if you can't find either, pistachio or vanilla ice creams are good options, or any flavour of your choice, however it won't have that signature elastic texture of Arabic/Turkish ice cream.
- (Pashmak) Persian fairy floss could be used instead of the Lebanese cotton candy, which also comes in many colors and flavors that you could match with your ice cream base. 'Halawa Sha'ar,' is another option but it tastes different from Lebanese cotton candy, which a strong halva (halawa) taste to it.
Measurements Note: All recipes of this site have been developed using weight measurements. Although US volume measurements have been included for your convenience, it is highly encouraged that you weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale to get the best possible results. Due to the sensitive nature of baking, kitchen scales are proven to yield more accurate and consistent results than measuring cups. Enjoy!
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