Ask Yasser Hashwi how he makes his ashta ice cream, and he’ll smile, shake his head, and tell you, “It’s a secret.”
Hashwi, a Lebanese native, spent months perfecting the ice cream from his childhood during the pandemic from his home. In March 2022, it blossomed into Booza Delight, a specialty Arabic ice cream shop that he opened in Dearborn Heights.
“Booza” is the Arabic word for ice cream, but the difference from its American counterpart is more than just a name. Booza is not only denser than American conventional ice cream but features a stretchy, chewy texture that takes longer to melt and can be eaten with a fork. It’s also less sugary, which Hashwi says makes it easier to enjoy.
“With mine, you keep eating and eating and eating; you don’t get that sweetness,” he says. “It’s just a perfect balance.”
Booza Delight’s counter of scoop ice cream features distinctive flavors like rose water, lotus, and pomegranate next to traditional favorites such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. The shop is also known for its fruit cups.
But what Booza Delight is most famous for is the ashta ice cream, which adds an Arabic clotted cream and other flavorings to the mix. Hashwi traditionally serves it rolled with pistachio and sliced, topped with ghazel banet — a type of Middle Eastern cotton candy — and raspberries. It is also available in scoops or inside baklava, cannoli, shakes, and crepes, or on top of kunafa, a Middle Eastern pastry made with dough and cheese, drizzled in syrup.
While Hashwi keeps his specific ingredients under wraps, ashta is traditionally flavored with mastic gum or rose or orange blossom water, but he says the taste must be experienced firsthand to understand.
“When people ask me, ‘What does ashta taste like?’ I can’t really tell you,” he says. “Even if you try it, you’re not going to be able to tell me, because it’s got its own flavor.”
Dearborn Heights resident Rawane Bitar has been a fan of Booza Delight since she first discovered it on Instagram during the pandemic. She says she and her family order from the shop about once a week and especially like to share it at gatherings.
Also a Lebanese native, Bitar says she no longer has to wait until traveling overseas for her favorite ice cream and adds that visiting the shop is a great experience overall.
This story is part of the May 2023 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our Digital Edition.