What is Paskha?
Paskha Russian Cheesecake is a traditional Russian tvorog (curd/farmer's cheese/quark) dessert made during Easter. It's traditionally white, symbolising the purity of Christ, the Lamb and the joy of the Resurrection. My recipe has an added twist of white chocolate and macadamia nuts, my favorite way to eat Paskha (Творожная Пасха с белым шоколадом).
This Russian Cheesecake is made in the form of a four-sided pyramid - which represents Calvary and the tomb. You'll need need a pasochnitsa (a Paskha mould) - a collapsible wooden (or plastic) form of four tablets. On the inner side of the boards is usually cut out the letters "XB" which stands for Христос воскрес (Christ is Risen). I bought the form on Amazon.
It can also have an image of the cross, spears, sticks, sprouted grains, sprouts and flowers - symbols of suffering and resurrection of Christ. If you don't have a pasochnitsa mould, some people have used a clay flower pot, which would work the same, just without the cool imprints on the outside.
Paskha Cheesecake with Tvorog
Traditionally this Russian Cheesecake is made with tvorog (farmers cheese or quark), butter, sour cream, raisins, vanilla, candied fruits and nuts. Adding white chocolate and macadamia is a perfect addition for Paskha. With Macadamia Nuts being an Australian native nut, I love giving Paskha Russian Cheesecake an Australian twist.
How to make Paskha
Paskha has many different variations and ingredients, from cooked to uncooked, my version is a little bit in between. The tvorog is probably the hardest part of this dish. The tvorog must have a smooth consistency, which is why you must put it through a metal sieve, or a food processor for smoothness. Tvorog can also be expensive, so it's much cheaper to make Tvorog at home yourself!
Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate and butter together. Using a mixer, in egg yolks, salt and vanilla until combined. Add in the tvorog and beat for about 10 minutes until smooth, and add the fruit and nuts.
I'm not a huge fan of raisins, but I found a great fruit mix with raisins, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries which worked perfectly. Some recipes use ⅓ cup rum to rehydrate the raisins before they use them. I put them in hot water for 10 minutes which works great.
You don't have to use the special mold, but can use any container - a clay flower pot is popular. You know, the orange looking flower pot with the hole in the top? That's the one! It just needs it's shape. Although the mold is better, because it has the letters XB which mean Christ is Risen in Russian. It looks fancier.
Line the mold with cheesecloth or muslin cloth and fill it with the cheese mixture. Weigh it down and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove the mold and cloth you're ready to serve!
Kulich and Paskha
Now don't confuse this Russian Cheesecake with another Easter sweet bread called Paska (also known as Kulich). Now to make this even more confusing, Paskha (Пасха) is how you say the word 'Easter', in Russian. So you can eat Paska (bread), or eat Paskha Russian Cheesecake, all during the Paskha (Easter) festive season. I think we really love our Easter.
It's often spread on top of a piece of Kulich, so you'll need to make both for the real Russian Easter experience. Once you taste my White Chocolate Macadamia Russian Easter treat, I'm sure you'll fall in love with it. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
Paskha Russian Cheesecake (Творожная Пасха)
- Russian Cheesecake Mold
- 2.2 lbs /1 kg tvorog farmer cheese
- 7 oz /200g of white chocolate
- 7 oz /200g of butter
- 8 egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries/blueberries
- 1 cup macadamia nuts chopped finely
- a pinch of sea salt
- Ensure the tvorog is very dry. If store-bought, put the tvorog into a cheesecloth and tie into a knot to drain. Hang on a faucet over the sink, or on a kitchen cupboard handle with a bowl underneath, or in the colander in the fridge overnight (or until you are happy with the consistency of the dryer tvorog).
- Push the tvorog through a fine metal sieve to give the tvorog a smooth consistency (I've heard some people use a food processor but have never tried that)
- Chop the white chocolate and butter into small pieces and melt together in a double boiler (or in a bowl over a pot of boiling water). Allow to cool slightly.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and vanilla sugar until it goes white. Add the melted white chocolate mixture and mix in together using a spoon.
- Using a beater, add the tvorog to the chocolate mixture and beat until fluffy, for about 10 minutes (try to get tvorog mixture as smooth as possible).
- Add the rehydrated raisins/dried fruit, macadamia nuts and stir to combine.
- Line a Paskha mold with cheese cloth, allowing a few inches of overhang on the sides. Fill the mold with the Paskha cheese and fold the cheesecloth on top of the cheese. Put a weighted plate (use a heavy cans or brick) on the of the cheesecloth to form the cheese.
- Keep it in place for a minimum 12 hours, in the fridge, best for 24 hours. To remove the mould, open the top of cheesecloth, invert over a serving plate, carefully remove mould and cheesecloth and serve.