Magazine article Sunset

It's Paskha, Western-Style

Magazine article Sunset

It's Paskha, Western-Style

Article excerpt

The delicate tang of cheese freshly made from buttermilk gives this Western variation of Russian Easter paskha its exceptional freshness. Blended with butter, sour cream, sugar, and eggs, the buttermilk cheese mixture is very gently cooked, then poured into a mold and chilled.

In our Western variation of paskha, we use dried fruits instead of the more typical glaceed ones and offer the option of homemade candied orange peel for a less sweet, lighter flavor. Toasted almonds add crunch to the mixture.

Like a dense cheesecake, paskha is good with juicy fruit sch as strawberries or pineapple--and plain cookies or toasted and buttered sweet bread. Dried Fruit and Nut Paskha 1 gallon (4 qts.) buttermilk 1 cup (6 oz.) whole unblanched almonds 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature 2 cups (1 pt.) sour cream 2 eggs 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1-1/2 cups raisins or pitted dates, snipped 1 cup chopped dried apricots 1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel, homemade (recipe follows) or purchased

Pour buttermilk into a heavy 5- to 6-quart pan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring gently once or twice to distribute heat, until buttermilk registers 185[deg.] on a thermometer, 20 to 30 minutes; buttermilk will separate into curds and whey. Line a fine-mesh strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, rinsed and squeezed dry. Pour mixture through strainer. Let stand until the curds stop dripping, 10 to 15 minutes; discard clear whey.

Meanwhile, spread almonds in 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 350[deg.] oven until nuts are golden under the skin, about 12 minutes; break one in half to check. Reserve 8 to 10 whole nuts. Coarsely chop remainder and set aside.

Combine the buttermilk curds, butter, sour cream, eggs, and sugar. Place half the mixture in a food processor or blender; process or whirl until very smooth. …

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