Cheese Paska or Cheese Babka
Cheese paska, shaped as a pyramid or block, is a traditional Easter dessert. It may be cooked as given below, or the cooking may be entirely omitted.
For an uncooked paska, combine the ingredients, omitting the cooking, then mold and refrigerate the mixture as directed in this recipe.
2 pounds dry cottage cheese
3/4 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup thick cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup blanched, almonds chopped fine
1/2 cup assorted fruit--raisins, mixed peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
Press the cheese through a sieve. Cream the butter with the sugar and then combine with the cheese. Beat the egg yolks and the whole egg together; blend with the cheese mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the vanilla.
Put the mixture into the top of a double boiler and heat it over barely simmering water until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Stir constantly while heating it. Remove from the range and continue stirring until the mixture cools. This is very important. This long stirring gives the paska a smooth and velvety texture. Lastly add the vanilla.
In Ukraine, the cheese mixture for paska is poured into a special mold with a removable rim, shaped like a pyramid. But an ordinary plastic flower pot with a hole at the bottom may serve the purpose.
Line the pot with a dampened cheesecloth of double thickness and pour the mixture into it. Cover with a damp cloth, place a small plate on top of the paska, and weight it down with a suitable weight.
A clean brick or a heavy iron may be used for a weight. The hole on the bottom of the pot allows the excess moisture to drain off. Let it stand in a cold place for 24 hours. Unmold on a plate and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Decorate at the base with fresh berries or a sliced orange. Serve in slices at the table.
The flower pot mold gives a very attractive shape to the paska. But if it is not available, the cheese mixture may be molded into a block. Pour the mixture into a clean, damp 10-pound sugar bag. Tie the open end of the bag securely into a knot, or sew it up. Place between 2 clean boards (not pine) and weight it down with a weight. Let it stand in a cold place for 24 hours. Cut the bag on all sides with scissors, trim the rough edges of the paska, and place on a serving plate. Chill well before serving.
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