Paskha aka "pascha" is a Crustless Cheesecake is one of the most amazing, rich and creamy desserts you will ever eat! Pascha is a Russian Orthodox Easter dessert that is so rich we only make it once a year. It is a full fat indulgence, you do not cut corners and even attempt to make it less rich. It is traditionally the dessert to celebrate the breaking of fast/end of Lenten season for Easter. Paskha is served cold and is like a delectable combination of cheesecake and rich ice cream. The fresh flavors come from lemon, orange zest and vanilla bean. This paskha recipe also calls for almonds which add another depth of amazing flavor, but are optional.
What is Paskha?
Paskha, pronounced, "Pahs-ka" (soft "a's") is a holiday dessert dish served on Easter in Eastern Orthodox cultures. In Russian, Paskha literally means "Easter." Paskha is a rich, dairy filled dessert enjoyed after the "breaking of fast" the end of lent. During lent, dairy is not consumed so Pascha is a special treat to celebrate Easter. Paskha is usually made in a pyramid form, but it can be made in other forms as you see here. A clean clay flower pot works great as well.
The main ingredient of Paskha is farmer's cheese or white cheese curd. It also has heavy amounts of butter, sugar and cream. What's not to like?! Paskha is usually served with a semi sweet Easter holiday bread called, Kulich.
Farmer's Cheese for Paskha
What is farmers cheese? It's a fresh cheese that is somewhere between ricotta and cottage cheese.
Every year I've made this recipe I've always purchased farmer's cheese from an Eastern European market. This year we made it ourselves and boy, were we surprised at how easy it really is! Also, the consistency and texture were just perfect for our family recipe. Now, we make the farmer's cheese ourselves every year with this following recipe. Check out how easy it is to make farmers cheese yourself from the blog, Haniela's. Here's a video tutorial from Hani as well.
Cultural Cheesecake Paskha
As with any cultural dish besides the main ingredients, the lesser ingredients vary per household. I grew up with a very similar recipe to this one that my Mother made every year. She loved putting almonds and lots of zest into the Paskha, sometimes golden raisins as well. The recipe was never written down so my husband and I came up with our very own family recipe. Now we replicate this recipe every year and share it with family. Now I'm sharing this family recipe with you.
No Bake Cheesecake
Not only is Paskha a crustless cheesecake per se, but it does not require baking. No baking involved, just mix and wait. It just requires refrigeration to let the liquids drain from the mold. Like anything extra good, patience is essential.
This is not a quick recipe because it does require waiting overnight for your cheesecake to mold and drain, but it is so worth the wait, trust me! It's a creamy, heavenly treat. Beware of over indulging though. Paskha is quite rich and should be savored in moderation as with anything this good.
What do I need to make Paskha?
- A stand-up mixer, or your favorite mixing appliance
- 2- double layers of cheesecloth, about 1 sq ft. each
- 2- 6" clean, unused terracotta flower pots with a drain hole or equivalent molds, (we also have a large wooden mold we use sometimes)
- 2 small plates to fit over the tops of the pots
- 2 heavy weights like food cans to weigh down the top of the pots (I've also used heavy rocks)
- 2 bowls to fit under each upside down flower pot to catch draining liquid.
Possible Toppings/Decorations for Paskha
- sliced almonds
- dried cranberries or raisins
- flowers or choice with stems trimmed fairly short, i.e. roses, tulips, etc...
Give this rich, delicious and gorgeous crustless cheesecake a try and let us know what you think below!