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.

How to Make It

Step 1

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

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 4

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

Step 5

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

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