Ahem, foodies. Like a real Bengali, I do believe that there is no such thing as “eating too much of sweets.” If you already tasted a Sandesh or two, you probably would know why this sweet is one of the staples in any Bengali home. And I am sure you love a crisp-baked tart, don’t you? But how about combining these two together and baking something which will make your loved one crave for more? This baked Indian fusion dessert is UBER-yum!
Valentine’s Day is right here. Out of habit, I wanted to create something which has a Bengali touch to it. So I got inspired from the traditional Bengali sweetmeat called Sandesh (Shondesh or Sondesh, whichever way you pronounce it). As it is Valentine’s Day, I thought the pink colour of strawberries will be just the right thing for my dessert. This Strawberry Sandesh Tart is a fusion of East and West. The major advantage of this fusion recipe is that unlike whipped cream, Sandesh is extremely stable at room temperature or higher. As my Sandesh is made up of just hung curd and chenna or paneer, it is healthy too! I know, I have showered upon some “buttery” love in that crust. It’s ok to be a bit indulgent on Valentine’s Day. 🙂
Click here to read my post on how to make chenna out of 1 litre of tetrapack milk. Tie the chenna in a muslin cloth and hang it for two hours, until almost all the whey drains out.
Normally, when we make Sandesh the traditional way, we generally cook the chenna a bit to make it a bit drier, unless it is Kacha Golla, which is not cooked at all. Baked Sandesh also exists and is popular among Bongs. My tart sports a baked Sandesh filling with light strawberry flavour. The Sandesh is deliberately given a mildly sweet flavour, as I used less sugar in this, and a combination of hung curd and chenna for making the same. However, this mildly sweet Sandesh is topped with an incredibly simple but out-of-the world strawberry reduction, which is sweeter. So, there is an interesting variation in the sweetness to watch out, as soon as you bite through the tart.
Oh, and a little extra drizzle of my heavenly Strawberry Reduction over the top will never go overboard, when you are in love!
I sunk my teeth into this tart to get a bite. As I closed my eyes while the tart crumbled town and the Sandesh melted in my mouth, I heard angels singing…
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!
Strawberry Sandesh Tart
[While making the strawberry reduction, it is important to note that the amount of sugar may vary depending on the sourness and the size of the strawberries. The basic idea is to make a reduction which should be sweeter than the mildly sweet strawberry Sandesh. Adjust the sugar in the reduction accordingly, if needed. Extra-sour curd does not work for the recipe of making this Sandesh: work with fresh curd only. I would advise to make hung curd the previous day itself, by hanging 400 g curd wrapped in a muslin cloth and hanging it for atleast two hours, or until almost all the whey is drained out. Squeeze the cloth from outside after two hours and hang it for another half an hour. After that, open the cloth and remove the hung curd for making the Sandesh.]
Ingredients for the Strawberry Sandesh:
Fresh curd (unsweeted): 400g
Granulated sugar: 2.5 tbsp
Hung chenna: 175 g
Hershey’s strawberry syrup: 2.5 tsp
Ingredients for the tart shell:
Refined flour: 150 g
Salt: little more than ¼ tsp
Chilled butter (cut into small cubes): 100 g
Toasted sesame seeds: 2 tsp
Water: as needed to bind the dough
Ingredients for the strawberry reduction:
Big-sized strawberries (roughly chopped): 4
Sugar: 3 tbsp
Finely slivered blanched almonds (toasted): 2 tbsp
To make the pastry, mix butter with sifted refined flour and rub it with your fingertips till this mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sesame seeds and season with salt and knead with a little water to form a dough. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate for 10 min.
Roll the pastry and line a 6-inch circular tart tin. Poke with a fork all over the base. Line the base with a parchment or an aluminium foil. Fill with beans and blind bake in a preheated oven at 190°C for 15 min. Remove the beans after 15 min and bake for another 10 min. The tart shell should be uniformly browned. Cool at room temperature.
While the tart shell gets baked (in step 1), make the strawberry reduction by heating a pan and adding strawberries on a medium flame. When strawberries are mushy, sprinkle the sugar and cook until sugar melts and the strawberry reduction becomes thicker. Cool and puree.
Add the granulated sugar to the hung curd and mix with the help of your fingers.
Mix the hung chenna with the syrup and knead this with the help of your palm. (Blender, etc. not recommended.) Knead until the chenna becomes very smooth and uniform in texture and your palms become oily. Mix the chenna with the hung curd-sugar mixture and knead into a smooth ball. This becomes the filling.
Fill the tart with the strawberry filling. Either spoon the filling into the tart and level it with the back of the spoon, or pipe the mixture into the tart shell. I used the latter method. I baked the tart again for around 10 min at the same temperature (190°C), covering the tart with a foil. Remove the tart and let it cool.
Garnish with slivered almonds and sprinkle the strawberry reduction generously. Keep at room temperature. Eat within a few hours, as refrigeration will make the tart shell a bit soft.
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