Think of this dessert as an easy baked cheesecake. With creamy cheesecake like curds, colourful berries and contrasting texture courtesy of the almond crumble, this traditional Indian dessert of Baked Bengal Curds is certainly one to try. It is naturally gluten free.
Quick and Easy Dessert
If you're looking for an easy dessert recipe which is not only tasty but perfect either as a mid-week treat or to serve when entertaining guests then look no further, you've found it!
All three elements of this delicious dessert, the curds, almond crumble and macerated berries, require just 10 minutes of hands on time, which includes getting the kitchen scales out of the cupboard and weighing the ingredients, or up to 15 minutes if you're working particularly slowly!
Similar to a cheesecake
If that's not enticement enough just check out how inviting the dessert looks with those beautiful summer berries against the creamy white of the baked curds. And the piece de resistance, for some, me included, is that this dessert tastes remarkably like cheesecake!
Smooth. Creamy. Delicately flavoured. It's far quicker to rustle up than a regular baked cheesecake, being baked in ramekins it spends far less time in the oven too. And of course, as the baked cheesecake is served in individual portions it makes it even more special - or at least in my opinion.
One issue with baked cheesecakes, despite their deliciousness, is that they can easily crack potentially affecting the aesthetic appeal of your dessert. But this easy cheesecake recipe doesn't seem to have that issue (or at least the baked surface hasn't cracked on the numerous occasions that we've enjoyed Baked Bengal Curds).
Our first introduction to Baked Bengal Curds, also known as Bhapa Doi, was in an edition of the Metro newspaper. Being enticed to try it and learn more about this simple yet delicious dessert I called upon our friend Google.
A traditional Indian dessert
A quick search taught me that this is a traditional Indian dessert which is often served for religious celebrations in the Hindi calendar. The name Bhapa Doi literally means steamed yogurt, as the dessert can be steamed rather than baked.
It transpires that the dessert, which our western eyes may view as a deconstructed cheesecake, is a fabulous base for carrying other flavours and textures. Many of the recipes I've read on-line such as this one from Elephant and Coconut Trees incorporate cardamom powder in the curds and some talk of using pineapple extract, though I tend to stick with vanilla.
The dessert is then often finished with some form of fruit and nuts, making it naturally gluten free. The recipe in the Metro used a little tamarind paste to enliven some mixed berries. Other cooks have served their traditional Bengal dessert with pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and even sliced kiwi fruits. Some suggest baking the dessert with a few saffron strands resting on top of the white curds to create a wonderful orange colour giving a beautiful contrast when pistachios are scattered over the top.
So, here's how to make Baked Bengal Curds with Macerated Berries!
Baked Bengal Curds with Macerated Berries
- 150 ml (¼pt) Greek style yogurt
- 125 g (4oz) condensed milk
- 100 ml (4floz)double cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- 15 g (½oz) butter
- 50 g (2oz) ground almonds
- 25 g (1oz) caster sugar
- 75 g (3oz) mixed fresh berries cleaned (such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) plus a few extra to decorate
- 1 - 2 tsp icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- drizzle balsamic vinegar
- 4 x 100ml (4floz) ramekins
To make the baked cruds
- Preheat the oven to 150℃ (140℃ fan)/300°F/gas mark 2. Fill the kettle with water, and set it to boil.
- Place 150ml (¼pt) Greek yogurt into a bowl and stir to make smooth. Add 125g (4oz) condensed milk and 100ml (4floz) double cream. Mix together until well combined. It thicken slightly.
- Spoon the mixture evenly between the ramekins. Avoid over filling them as the mixture will puff up a little during the bake.
- Place the ramekins in a roasting tin. Carefully pour the water from the kettle into the roasting tin, so that it comes half way up the side of the ramekins. Avoid getting water on the curd mixture.
- Place the roasting tin in the centre of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. The curds will puff up a little during the bake. The curds will still have a slight wobble at this stage.
- Remove the roasting tray from the oven and set aside to cool. Once the curds and ramekins have cooled, remove them from the water bath and wipe the ramekins to dry. Place in the fridge for 1-2 hours (or even over night) to set completely.
Make the crumble
- Place 15g (½oz) butter, 50g (2oz) almonds and 25g (1oz) sugar into a frying pan. Set on the hob over a medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and the almonds to slightly toast. Stir regularly. The mixture will clump together a little. Remove from the hob and transfer the almond mixture into a small bowl. Set aside until required.
Macerate the berries
- Up to half an hour before serving prepare 75g (3oz) mixed berries. Cut the strawberries into quarters and raspberries in half. Place the fruit into a bowl. Scatter with 1-2 tsp icing sugar. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar (no more than half a teaspoon). Stir together to combine. Set aside for about 30 minutes to allow the flavours to meld together and a juice to develop.
- Serve the baked curds with the macerated berries and almond mixture.
- The quantity used was perfect was filling 3 x 100ml (4floz) sized ramekins, of course if your ramekins are a little larger you may need to consider increasing the quantity of ingredients for the curds.
- The almond crumble mixture makes sufficient to allow guests to add extra if desired.
- The curds and crumble mixture can be made the day ahead if required.