As I wrote before, we have been spending our holidays in Egypt for quite some years. We enjoy Egyptian food, especially koshari, we usually leads to amused responses from our Egyptian friends.
My sister likes to invite us for dinners that take hours and include a table filled with Egyptian dishes. I don’t have the patience (as you probably know by now) but I do enjoy making one thing: the epic dessert “Um Ali” (Om Ali, Oum All, Umm Ali are also used).
For us, this dish is a perfect indulgence and comfort food. It is such a treat during those dark winter months. How ironic that it serves as a comfort food, when the origins seem to be so gory! I will not go into them here. If you would like to read an interesting article about Um Ali in different restaurants around Cairo, Vice has it.
This is my go-to recipe. I know Tasbih has since posted updated recipes, for example using filo dough, but I will stick to this one. However, I highly recommend checking all her recipes! For my recipe I did not use heavy whipping cream but creme fraiche.
- 500 g/1lb palmiers (also known as lunettes)
- 1 liter/1 quart (4 1/4 cups) full fat milk
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 250g/8oz 1 cup heavy whipping cream, (whipped to medium peaks)
OPTIONAL ASSORTED NUTS OF YOUR CHOICE
- 1/2 cup (57g) toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (57g) pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup (75g) raisins
- 1/4 cup (20g) shredded coconut
You could either use a baking dish around the dimensions of 9*13 inches or 2 quart deep dish for this recipe. However, I’ve found that unlike the deep dish used in the pictures, a shallower rectangle or oval dish produces much better texture. The larger surface area of the wide, shallow dish allows for a greater amount of browning and crunch on top, which ensures crispy, caramelized bites with every mouthful.
- Adjust the oven rack to medium position and preheat the oven’s broiler to 200C/390F.
- In an oven safe baking dish, break in half 3/4 of the amount of palmiers, and arrange in layers. Set aside the remaining 1/4 of the palmiers. Add in the nuts, if using. I prefer to serve it on the side as not everyone likes nuts.
- In a medium saucepan, over medium-hight heat, stir together the milk and sugar, until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil.
- Pour the boiling milk mixture over the palmiers.
- Use the reserved 1/4 amount of palmers to top the surface of the milk-soaked palmiers. This will create an extra crunchy topping.
- Dot the surface of the dish with spoons of eshta. No need to spread it. If using whipped cream, evenly spread it all over to cover the entire surface of the dish.
- Place the dish under the oven’s broiler until bubbling around the edges and the top turns golden brown; about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye over it as it might brown in less time.
- Serve right away, hot with assorted nuts on the side (if you haven’t already added them in the dessert before baking)