Also known as Lithuanian Flowerpot cheese (saldus sūris) or Russian Paskha
From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh
This recipe makes 2 x 1 lb cottage cheese or sour cream tubs, washed well, holes poked in bottom for drainage and lined with damp cheesecloth. Or new plastic flower pots. People in my Lithuanian cooking demo said it was like a cheesecake.
“This rich and lovely addition to the Easter table is reputed to be of Russian origin, but is described as sweet cheese in books on Lithuanian traditions” - Treasures of Lithuanian Cooking. From(1960’s) Time-Life Foods of the World -Russian Cooking. “The Paskha is meant to be a marvel of cottage cheese, rich cream, eggs, raisins, almonds and candied fruits deposited in a four-sided, perforated wood frame in the shape of a truncated pyramid. The mold is lined with cheesecloth and weighed down so that the surplus liquid in the ingredients can seep out. The mold has more than a purely utilitarian function; it usually has a cross and an XB design carved on its inner sides, so that when the paskha emerges it is already decorated. XB stands for the Cyrillic initials of Christos Voskres, the greeting given at Easter Saturday Midnight Mass (therefore being Easter Sunday) of “Christ is risen” “Truly He is risen.” If the mold doesn’t have this imprint then the letter are spelled out on the outside of the cheese in fruits and nuts and they continue to celebrate for the next three days." (The molds are available to buy on Amazon).
The original recipes would have used whisked raw eggs and sugar to enrich the cheese. In today’s salmonella-conscious world we either make an egg custard or purée hard boiled egg yolks. For cheese now we can buy the ‘Friendship’ brand of Farmers cheese or cottage cheese that we drain and then puree. They would have forced the cottage cheese (which would probably have been home made) through a sieve to give the smoother texture. We have the food processor.
Gluten-Free No Bake Easter Sweet Cheese Mold
- 1lb Friendship brand farmers cheese –Market Basket, sold in 1 lb packages in specialty cheese section for about $4/lb (500g). Not Andrulis brand which is a slicing farmers cheese
- ¾ c (5+3/4 oz, 160 g) sugar
- 4 oz (112g) cream cheese at room temperature, cut into pieces. I buy Market Basket’s own lite.
- Yolks of 3 large hard boiled eggs
- Grated zest of ½ lemon
- Grated zest of 1/2 orange
- 3/4 c (6 fl oz, 180 ml) of heavy or whipping cream
- ½ tsp (3 ml) gf vanilla extract
- 1/4c (40g, 1+1/2 oz) golden raisins (sultanas)
- ¼ c candied orange peel - optional
- 1/3 c (2 oz, 55g) finely chopped blanched almonds
1. Put the farmers cheese, cream cheese, sugar, cream, egg yolks, orange and lemon zest in a food processor and process until the mix is extremely smooth. Depending on sharpness of food processor blade, you might only get it to tiny dots of cheese not puréed totally smooth. With my new blade mix became very smooth, runnier than instant jello vanilla pudding. Transfer to mixing bowl.
2. Add vanilla, raisins, almonds and fruit and stir well to combine.
3. Line a clean, unused 4 c flowerpot (plastic is fine) with a double layer of rinsed and squeezed-dry cheesecloth. Or 1 or 2 lb cottage cheese/ricotta/sour cream etc tub, rinsed, holes poked in the base. Spoon the cheese mix into the lined pot, smooth the surface, fold the ends of the cheesecloth neatly over the top. Place a saucer or plastic lid that fits inside rim of container, on the cheesecloth, then a 2lb weight such as a can on top of the saucer. Stand the flowerpot upright in a bowl large enough to drain into with enough space under bottom of flower pot so it is not sitting in drained liquid. (I made 2 smaller flower pots)
6. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
7. Discard any liquid that drained out. Unmold the sweet cheese onto a serving plate and carefully remove the cheesecloth.
Cookbooks say this will keep refrigerated for a week once removed from cheesecloth.