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Paskha

Yield Makes 2 1/2 pounds; 12 to 16 servings
Notes: This dessert cheese for Russian Easter is traditionally shaped in a flat-topped pyramid mold. A new 4- to 6-inch-wide clay flowerpot also works. Make cheese up to 4 days ahead. Instead of vanilla bean, you can use 1 tablespoon vanilla. To make the XB ("Christ is risen" in Russian) on sides, use decorator icing in a tube or toasted silvered almonds.

Ingredients

  • 1 vanilla bean (6 to 8 in.)
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 carton (16 oz.) ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel

Nutrition Information

  • calories 231
  • caloriesfromfat 78 %
  • protein 4.4 g
  • fat 20 g
  • satfat 13 g
  • carbohydrate 8.6 g
  • fiber 0.0 g
  • sodium 67 mg
  • cholesterol 61 mg

How to Make It

  1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape out black seeds.

  2. In a bowl with a mixer, beat vanilla seeds, butter, cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Add ricotta and orange peel; beat until blended.

  3. Line a deep 5-cup mold with 2 layers of damp cheesecloth (if making more than 2 hours ahead, use a mold with a bottom drain--see notes--to get a firmer cheese). Spoon paskha mixture into cloth and pack down firmly. Set on a rack on a rimmed dish.

  4. Cover airtight and chill until paskha is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour.

  5. Lift cloth with paskha from mold. Peel back cloth, invert cheese onto a flat plate, and remove cloth.