The thought of Easter has given me a renewed desire to bake! But for me, Easter dessert means Pashka – a dense, creamy, sweet, Russian cheesecake. Here’s one from a previous year:
The traditional shape of the Pashka is a sort of pyramid. The X B stands for Христосъ Воскресe, which means “Christ is risen” in Russian. The little jewels you can see through the cheese are dried cherries, blackberries and currants. I love serving this with fresh berries – they compliment the creamy joy very, very well! This is also one of the easiest desserts you can make.
There is a little preparation though. You need to drain the moisture out of the cheese – I find the easiest way is to hang it in muslin, over a bowl to catch the drips. Elastic bands over kitchen cupboard door knobs seems to work. See here:
You will also need a flowerpot to use as a mold. I use plastic and sterilize it in the dishwasher. You then need more muslin, doubled over to line the flowerpot. Don’t worry – you can wash the muslin and re-use.
Here’s the recipe:
Serves: 12 – 16 Cooking time: 30 mins + 2 overnights Difficulty: Easy – for beginners Dietary guidance: v
1 1/2 pounds of cream cheese
1 1/2 pounds of ricotta cheese
1/2 pound of butter
1 cup of chopped dried fruits. Get the best you can afford – I like cherries, blueberries, cranberries.
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup of heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod (or equivalent extract)
Garnish: currants, fresh berries, almonds or other nuts.
1. Drain the cheese of as much moisture as you can by hanging it in muslin overnight. Also prepare the mold by lining a sterile flowerpot with a few layers of muslin.
2. Beat the butter with the cheese thoroughly until smooth.
3. In a saucepan, heat the cream just until bubble appear then set aside.
4. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until thick.
5. While still beating, add the cream in a continuous stream, and then return the mixture to the pan.
6. Stir constantly until this become a custard like thickness.
7. Take off the heat and stir in the dried fruits, currants and vanilla seeds from the vanilla pod.
8. Combine the cheese and the custard mixures gently.
9. Pour into the mold.
10. Fold over the muslin onto the top of the cheese mix, and place a plate on the top of the flowerpot. You will need a bowl or plate to stand the flowerpot into – to catch any remaining moisture that comes out. You then will want to add weight to press down onto the cheesecake – I use tinned tomatoes.
11. Chill in the fridge overnight. To serve, turn out on plate and decorate with berries. Serve with cream!
I love a big Easter, and an Easter table with the Pashka and a big bowl of colored hard boiled eggs.