When made from homemade cottage cheese, pashka is at its best. The homemade cheese is smooth, creamy and has just the right slightly sour taste. If using farmer's cheese, try to use Friendship brand, available at most supermarkets. Serve pashka with slices of Easter coffee cake.
- 2 pounds homemade cottage cheese or farmer's cheese
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 6 large hard-cooked egg yolks, crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
- 3/4 cups ground almonds
- 1/2 lemon, zest grated
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- Chopped candied fruits, for decoration
In a large bowl, combine the cottage cheese or farmer's cheese, sugar, cream cheese, and egg yolks, stirring to mix.
In batches, process the mixture in a food processor, adding an equal amount of cream to each batch, until completely smooth. Transfer back to the bowl.
Line a clean, unused 8-cup flower pot with a double layer of rinsed and squeezed-dry cheesecloth. Spoon the cheese mixture into the lined pan, then fold the ends of the cheesecloth neatly over the top. Place a saucer on the cheesecloth, then a 2-pound weight, such as a can, on the saucer. Put the flower pot in a bowl large enough for the liquid to drain into. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Empty the bowl. Unmold the pashka onto a serving plate and carefully remove the cheesecloth. Decorate with candied fruit, pressing some of the fruit into the pashka to form the letters XP, which stands for Khristos voskres ("Christ has risen").