In my never-ending quest for the perfect Pascha Cheese recipe, this year I tried the recipe from Larousse Gastronomique circa 1938, slightly adapted. I tried this recipe because it uses cottage cheese rather than farmer's cheese, pot cheese or even ricotta - all of which are outrageously expensive this year. Fresh Market will gladly order me the first two, at $8.50 and $9.00 per pound!!!! Yikes!
Once again, I broke the recipe into thirds and flavored them according to my own tastes. The most popular flavor last year at the Agape meal following the Paschal liturgy was the orange and almond flavor which is a riff on the famous Italian Easter dessert pie, Pizza Dolce. There is something about those flavors that mean Pascha to me and makes my Italian heart happy! I was feeling particularly Italian, so the second flavor is chocolate and hazelnut, which I'm calling Nutella. Original, eh? Since I had a theme going here, I decided to make the third portion to mimic my most beloved Grammie's pannettone - butter, lemon, honey and anisette. Oh yeah!
So, this year's flavors are: Pizza Dolce, Nutella and Pannettone! I'll let you know how they went over on Sunday!
Here is the basic Larousse recipe which I adapted to ingredients available to me:
4 lbs creamed cottage cheese (or 3 lbs dry curd cottage cheese)
1/2 C sour cream
1/4 lb salted butter, room temperature
2/3 C white sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Prepare creamed cottage cheese by placing in a fine mesh colander and rinsing under running water until the water is completely clear. Place the rinsed cheese curds in a large square of cheese cloth, tie tightly, and place back in the colander. Place the colander in a bowl to catch the drippings. Weigh the cheese curds down with a large can of tomatoes and set in the fridge for 2 days. At the end of the two days, the curds should be very, very dry and there should be a lot of water in the bowl. Discard the water. If you can get the dry curds, you can omit this step.
Place the dried curds into a food processor and whiz until smooth. Add the sugar and whiz some more. Then add the sour cream, vanilla and the butter and whiz for a couple of minutes until it is perfectly smooth and creamy. You can stop at this point and set it to drain as one large pascha cheese, adding fruit and nuts as you desire.
I then divided the vanilla mixture back into the three large cottage cheese containers for individual flavoring
Pizza Dolce: 1 scant tsp finely grated orange zest + 3/4 tsp almond flavoring
Nutella: 1 1/2 tsp hazelnut flavored coffee flavoring syrup (Torani brand is what I have) + 2 - 3 Tbs chocolate syrup
Pannettone: 1/2 tsp butter flavoring (I would have used more butter but I didn't have any since we are vegans!), 1/4 - 1/2 tsp anise flavoring, 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, + 1 1/2 Tbs honey
To see my prior years pascha cheese recipes, go here and here.
I'll take a photo of this year's batch later on when DD is home from school, since the camera was last seen in her hands.....