PREPARE THE FILLING: In a medium sized pot, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Bring to boil on medium heat while whisking almost the whole time. You do not want clumpy texture but rather a very smooth creamy texture. Once the cream thickens up very well, lower the heat and continue whisking for another minute or so.
Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a Pyrex dish, cover with plastic wrap and let it cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. You can also cool an extra 15 min in the fridge if you have time.
While you are waiting for the Ashta to cool, prepare the sugar syrup.
In a small pot bring the sugar and water to boil. Once it starts boiling, time 5 minutes. Then add in the orange blossom water, rose water and lemon juice. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let it cool at room temperature.
Once the Ashta has cooled down, you can then prepare the phyllo dough. Place the butter and shortening in a small glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and melt in the microwave for 1 minute. Do not over heat.
To prepare the phyllo dough, place a flat sheet on a board or clean kitchen counter. Brush the butter mixture on the surface of the sheet, and repeat to stack 15 sheets on top of each other.
Cut the sheet into even squares. Add a full teaspoon (normal spoon) of the Ashta mixture in the middle and fold to close. Repeat the process for the rest of the sheets.
Place the pastries in a non-stick pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes until golden brown in color.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with 1 to 1 1/4 cup of sugar syrup. You can add more to the pastry while serving, this way you don't over sweeten it.
Let it cool at room temperature for 2 hours and refrigerate without wrapping for another 2 hours before serving.
Prepare the Ashta filling ahead to reduce waiting time the day of.
Do not over cook the sugar syrup or else it will crystalize.
Do not use only butter, I have tried that, it's not the same. You can replace the brushing mixture with ghee, preferably a vegetarian kind to avoid unpleasant flavors.
Do not cover the Shaabiyat after baking. That will make them softer. The crunchier they are, the longer they last, and tastier.
It's important to refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, they taste so much better. Even though some people like having them warm.