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Project 16: Making cheese Pascha

April 21, 2011

Here is my recipe for cheese Pascha (adapted from Taste and See: American Orthodox Cooking):

A few days in advance, clean and oil the cheese Pascha mold. If you don’t have a fancy cheese Pascha mold like mine you can use a very clean plastic or terracotta flowerpot.

Prepare pascha mold

Using a double boiler, make a custard with 5 egg yolks, 2.5 Tablespoons of half and half, and 1/4 cup sugar. I use a bowl in a pot of simmering water. Let it cool slightly.

Double boiler

Move your drained fromage blanc to a large bowl. I had hoped to measure out exactly 4 pounds but our kitchen scale is inexplicably missing. (Did you borrow it? We need it back!) I ended up using all of the cheese which was probably too much.

Fromage blanc

Add the custard to the fromage blanc and also add: 1/2 lb very soft butter, 1/4 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup sour cream, and one more cup of sugar. I always have vanilla sugar made up in the pantry (put scraped vanilla bean pods into a container of sugar) so I use some of this in my cheese Pascha. If you don’t have vanilla sugar you can pour in vanilla extract. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust to taste (or to smell if you’re not eating dairy while you make this).

Ingredients

Stir well. I sometimes need to use my hands to work in the butter and the sour cream depending on how soft they are. At this point my official taste tester lets me know if the batch needs anything. We added some salt and some more sugar to this one.

Filling the mold

When you are sure everything is perfect it is time to fill the mold. Place it in a bowl or on a shallow dish, line it with a double sheet of moistened cheesecloth, and fill to the very top. Your cheese will drain a few more days in the fridge, so don’t be afraid to really fill that mold. You can make a mini cheese Pascha with any leftovers (we had enough left over to make a whole second one).

Ready for the fridge

Put that baby in the fridge and monitor closely over the next day or so. You’ll need to empty your dish out before the sticky whey leaks out onto everything on your lower shelves. It will lose the most moisture in the first 12 or so hours (you can see in the photo that mine was already dripping when I took this picture).

My cheese Pascha mold has a lid and that helps to weigh down the cheese. If you don’t have a lid you can use a plate or another flat item to help it drain. I pile it up with all sorts of random things by the time I’m done because there is nothing worse than a wet cheese Pascha that slumps when you take it out of the mold in front of its adoring crowd.

Now: the waiting.

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