This luscious Fruit Custard combines the velvety richness of custard with an assortment of fresh, in-season fruits. Whether served at a special gathering or as a delightful treat for your family, this Indian dessert is a perfect harmony of eggless creamy custard and the natural sweetness of fruits.
Our family loves Fruit Custard served chilled on a warm summer day as a sweet option that's similar to Fruit Chaat. The balance of creaminess and sweetness made it a hit for backyard gatherings with our family friends during the summertime in Arizona.
Custard with fruit is a delicious combination of smooth, creamy custard and fresh, in-season fruits. The beauty of this dessert is that it is versatile and adaptable, allowing you to enjoy an assortment of your favorite fruits or enjoy seasonal picks for the best flavor.
The custard base is simple in it's preparation - using an eggless vanilla custard powder, milk, and sugar that is absolutely luscious. It's an ideal dessert to prepare for experienced or novice home cooks.
The custard is the perfect canvas to let the flavors and vibrant colors of the fruits shine. Top the fruit custard with additional chopped fruit and you have a visually stunning, yet simple Indian dessert.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
Fruit Custard is an awesome, unfussy dessert to make with plenty of fresh fruits. Here's why you'll love this recipe:
- This recipe uses an eggless custard powder and still produces a delicious, luscious custard without needing to learn how to temper eggs. Use coconut milk for a vegan option.
- Fruit Custard relies mostly on the natural sweetness of fresh fruit and is therefore is a fan favorite for people that enjoy light to moderately sweet desserts. The sugar can be increased or decreased based on preference.
- It's a lovely, quick dessert that just needs a 30 minute chill time to be served cold.
- This dessert can be made year-round with whatever fruits are in season. It can also be made with dried fruit like apricots, figs, and Medjool dates with almonds and pistachios for a crunch.
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
- Custard Powder - I used Brown & Polson vanilla custard but any custard powder or vanilla pudding mix will work. You can easily make your own eggless custard powder at home with accessible pantry ingredients. If your custard powder is plain, be sure to add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Be sure to pay attention to the cooking instructions on the packaging in case you need to make any adjustments.
- Fruits - I recommend the following fruits for custard - strawberries, apples, banana, pomegranates, red or green grapes, mangos, papaya, kiwis, guava, or fuyu persimmons. Choose a mix of 4-5 fruits where a few are soft and a few that are crunchier. I also love tart fruits mixed in with a sweet ones.
- Milk - The custard is best made with whole milk, however you can use most alternatives except for almond milk which is more susceptible to curdling.
- Sugar - The fruits add a lot of great natural sweetness, but I find that it still needs added sugar to taste like a dessert. You can also stir in honey or maple syrup off heat into the prepared custard.
- Additional flavorings - To give that especially iconic Indian dessert taste, I like to add freshly ground green cardamom. Saffron and rosewater are great additions, too.
Note: Do not use pineapples under any circumstances. It can cause the fruit custard to get very bitter and you will have to toss out the dessert.
In the same strain, avoid using citrus due to the high acidity and melons due to the high water content.
How to make Fruit Custard
Bring the milk up to a lukewarm temperature in a heavy bottom pot on a medium to high flame. You can also add saffron and ground green cardamom for extra flavor at this time.
Note: A heavy bottom pot is best for avoiding burnt milk on the sides and bottom, but be sure to keep stirring the milk periodically.
Once the milk is warm, ladle three tablespoons of it into a small bowl containing the custard powder. Mix the custard powder with the milk thoroughly, or until you don't see any lumps.
By now, the milk should be at a boil on the stove. Pour the custard milk mixture back into the pot along with the sugar. Keep stirring the milk to make sure there aren't any lumps.
Boil the milk for two minutes to get rid of the raw flavor. After two minutes, lower the flame so that the milk is simmering.
The milk will thicken up after 3-4 minutes. You're looking for a texture that is runny, yet thick enough to the coat the back of a spoon.
Pro Tip: If you run your finger on the back of the spoon like above, you'll see that the custard doesn't drip down the spoon but stays in place.
At this point, remove the custard from the heat. Give it a taste test and see if you'd like to add more sugar. Transfer the custard to a mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap. Chill the custard in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
The custard can also be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days if prepping fruit custard for a party.
Right before you're ready to serve the custard, chop up your assortment of fruits. Reserve a ¼ cup of fruits to top the dessert bowls.
I went with strawberries, apples, banana, pomegranates, and grapes but can also recommend mangos, kiwis, guava, or fuyu persimmons.
Whisk the custard again until it's lump free. Add rosewater at this point if you'd like to. Stir the fruits into the custard and you're ready to serve! Scoop a cup of custard into little dessert bowls. Top with the additional fruit that was set aside.
For a chocolate custard, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder or melt a ¼ cup of your preferred chocolate and mix it in.
To make a vegan fruit custard, use coconut milk instead of whole milk.
Instead of fresh fruit, stir in dry fruits such as figs and apricots along with chopped nuts like almonds and pistachios for a bit of crunch.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Use a heavy bottom pot! They are best for simmering milk without burning it on the hot sides or bottom.
- Don't walk away from the custard on the stove. It can thicken up way more than you want really fast. If it's too thick, whisk in up to another ½ cup of milk or until you achieve you desired consistency.
- While the vanilla custard alone is delicious, I love stirring in saffron, ground green cardamom, and rosewater for all that delicious flavor that's common in Indian desserts, like Gulab Jamun.
- Serve Fruit Custard as a standalone dessert or as a topping for cakes and pastries.
Storage and Make Ahead Instructions
To make the custard ahead of time -
- Make the custard as instructed. Cover and chill separately from the fruit in the refrigerator up to 3 days before serving.
- When ready to serve, whisk the custard until it's completely smooth and add the chopped fruit.
- If it's too thick, add ¼ cup of milk to loosen the custard into a luscious texture again.
Unfortunately, custard does not store well once the chopped fruit have been added. The fruit will release their juices over time, causing the custard to be runny. It's still delicious, but not the thick luscious texture we are looking for.
More Indian Desserts to try
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoon heavy cream, optional
- 3 tablespoon custard powder, or vanilla pudding mix
- 5 tablespoon sugar, adjust to preference
- 2 cups assorted fruit, (strawberries, kiwi, banana, pomegranate, mango, apple, grapes)* see notes
- ½ teaspoon ground green cardamom, optional
- 1 teaspoon rosewater, optional
- 5 strands saffron, optional
- Bring the milk to a lukewarm temperature on medium to high flame. Optionally, add heavy cream, saffron strands, or ground cardamom before the milk is at a boil.
- While the milk is lukewarm, spoon three tablespoons of it into a little bowl with the custard powder. Stir until the custard mixture is completely lump free.
- Continue bringing the milk to a boil. Pour in the custard mixture and sugar and stir until it's completely smooth. Boil the milk for 2 minutes, then lower the heat so that it's at a soft simmer for another 2-4 minutes.
- At this point, the custard should be runny but coat the back of a spoon. Remove the pot from heat and transfer the custard into a mixing bowl to chill in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Right before planning to serve, chop up 2 cups of assorted fruit.
- After the custard has chilled, whisk it really well to remove any lumps. Add the chopped fruits into the bowl and whisk again to combine. Optionally, add the rosewater here as well.
- Serve chilled with extra chopped fruits to top it off.
- Do not use citrus, pineapple, or melons due to their high acidity and water content. This includes, oranges, blood oranges, grapefruits, honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
- Use a mixture of 4-5 fruits, some soft and some crunchy.
- Only chop the fruit once you are ready to serve. Some fruit begin to release their juices and will make the custard runny.