A case where the croissant is better than bread!

This dessert is one of my favourite Arabic desserts, and I always have some if offered in any buffet.

This illustration was created by Lebanese Illustrator Hanane Kai for an article in BrownBook Magazine

Thing is, I used to get disappointed very often with what I had, as it was either too sweet, not sweet enough, too soggy, too rich…etc there was always something missing. So I kept experimenting with recipes until I came up with this one and it is my take on the perfect Um Ali. This dessert is a staple for any buffet, it is great for any occasion, and is a platter that you can whip up right before your guests arrive… what more do we expect from any dessert?

Um Ali is usually made with bread, and frequently corn flakes is added. and all sorts of other breads… I make it more elegant, with flavours that mesh together properly, using crisped butter croissant. Toast the sliced butter croissant for a crunch and see the difference, you will never have Um Ali any other way 🙂

Click this link to find out the story and history of this dessert, where it originated and why it was created. Very interesting history behind this Egyptian dessert.


Serves: 8
  • 350g butter croissant (good quality butter croissants, make all the difference)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar (for less sweet use 1/2 cup sugar or you can omit sugar all together)
  • 1 small can cream
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon powder

Soak all nuts and raisins in blossom water. Set aside.

Cut the croissant into bite-size pieces & place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes or until golden and crunchy. Do not overbake or they will burn! Remove from heat and set aside.

In a saucepan, mix condensed milk, sugar (if using) and 4 cups water and cook stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes, so they are well incorporated. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile place 1/2 croissants in serving dish that is oven proof (you can use one whole dish for all the quantity or you can prepare individual portions in ramekins or cups as preferred). Top with 1/2 the nuts and sprinkle all with 1 tbsp cinnamon. Add remaining croissants and add prepared milk, top with cream  mixed with a dash of milk then sprinkle remaining nuts and cinnamon powder.

Bake in a 350 F oven for 10- 20 minutes, or until it becomes golden. Serve warm for best experience.

You can reheat Um Ali if desired. Just add a little milk to it and place in preheated oven until heated through.

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