Thursday, April 1, 2010
Easter Cheese Paskha (Pashka, Pascha) Dessert
It is almost Good Friday and with Easter almost here, it's worth considering a dessert that isn't a cake or cupcakes tricked out with pastel jelly beans. Making this dish is one of my traditions for the holiday and I always love making it.
Paskha (also spelled Pashka, Pascha) is a traditional European Easter dessert rather like unbaked cheesecake - but even richer tasting!
It consists of little more than farmer’s cheese with a few added ingredients that is placed in a special mold called a pasotchnitza.
If you don’t have a pasotchnitza, then a clean flowerpot is often used; but if it isn’t for Easter; you can also use a large coeur a la crème mold or anything that allows for some drainage of the whey as it sits.
Historically, Paskha or Pascha (Russian: "Easter") is a festal dish made in Eastern Orthodox countries of those foods which are forbidden during the fast of Great Lent. It is made during Holy Week and then brought to church on Great Saturday to be blessed after the Paschal Vigil.
The name of the dish comes from Pascha, the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Easter.
Paskha is a traditional Easter dish made from tvorog, a European farmer’s cheese which is white, symbolizing the purity of Christ, the Paschal Lamb, and the joy of the Resurrection.
In the European Orthodox tradition, pashka is usually molded in the form of a truncated pyramid (a symbol of the Church; also said to represent the Tomb of Christ).
It is traditionally made in a wooden mold assembly called pasotchnitza that can be taken apart for cleaning; but more modern materials, such as plastics, are used nowadays. I have one wooden mold that I bought years ago from a company no longer available. However, you can get both the wooden and plastic versions here: (Easter Christian Supply) http://www.easternchristiansupply.biz/-#festal/c54/c71272/24209
The pascha is decorated with traditional religious symbols, such as the "Chi Ro" motif, a three-bar cross, the letters X and B (Cyrillic letters standing for XB which is the Slavonic form of the traditional Paschal greeting: "Christ is Risen!"), eggs, and a lance, all symbolizing Christ's Passion and Resurrection.
No matter what your religious affiliation – this uncooked cheesecake is delicious!
Easter Cheese Pashka
3 pounds farmer’s cheese, (Friendship brand if you can get it)
1 pound whole milk cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
1 pound butter, softened
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 cup ground almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
6 cooked egg yolks, sieved
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans scraped
Sliced or chopped fresh or candied fruit, for garnish
1. Put farmers' cheese, cream cheese, sugar, butter and egg yolks into the
bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine.
2. Add cream; process until smooth.
3. Transfer cheese mixture to a large bowl.
4. Add almonds, lemon zest, orange zest, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds;
5. Stir vigorously to combine.
6. Line three 1-qt. pashka molds or three clean 1-qt. flowerpots with a
double layer of cheesecloth.
7. Set mold in a bowl, transfer cheese mixture into lined mold, and fold ends
of cheesecloth neatly over the top.
8. Put a plate over wide end of mold and weigh down with a soup can.
9. Refrigerate allowing liquid to drain, for at least 12 hours to 3 days.
To serve, invert mold onto a serving plate and remove mold; remove the cheesecloth.
Decorate with candied fruit, if you like.
EACH PASHKA SERVES 8