This Easter, Kate and I thought we would try our hand at making Pashka to serve alongside Kurt’s Kulich. Akin to a crust-less cheesecake, this custard based treat is a Russian Orthodox dish made with ingredients that were forbidden during the fast of lent. It is traditionally made before Easter, and taken to the church to be blessed on Good Friday before being served on Easter Sunday. It is eaten spread on slices of Kulich.
Easter in New Zealand is a time to spend with family, get away for a long weekend, and enjoy the last BBQ before winter sets in. Compared to our young country’s casual approach, I find foods steeped in ritual like Pashka fascinating. Having it on my Easter table brings a sense of occasion and weight to the feast.
This version with its rustic form and cherry sauce is a little twist on the traditional, but still a very delicious way to end an Easter feast!
180g caster sugar
200 ml full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
Juice from one orange
Zest from 2 oranges
100g ‘Berry Zest’ – a mix of dried goji berries, cranberries, cherries and golden raisins
100g orange flavoured cranberries
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
100g white chocolate, finely chopped
70g shelled pistachios, finely chopped
200g crème fraîche
75g unsalted butter, melted
675g jar pitted cherries, drained
1 cup juice from cherries
Juice 1 orange
80g caster sugar
½ tsp almond essence
20 g cornflour
1. Place egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk together until the colour becomes pale. Add milk and vanilla and whisk to combine.
2. Place the mixture in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat stirring constantly. Once the custard has thickened place in a bowl and cover. Set aside to cool completely.
3. Combine orange juice with dried fruit and cranberries in glass bowl, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
4. Place ricotta, crème fraîche and cold custard into a bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one otherwise a wooded spoon and a good string arm will do) and blend until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary. Add melted butter and beat through. Add the dried fruit with juice, chopped chocolate, nuts and zest. Mix well.
5. Lay out some muslin cloth and place the mixture into it. Tie the top quite tightly with some string and suspend the resulting ‘pouch’ over a bowl in the fridge. (You could tie the pouch onto a wooden spoon and lay the spoon across the top of a bowl or pot.) Allow to drain for 24 hours.
6. Carefully unwrap the Pashka and place on a serving dish, drizzle with the sauce and cherries to serve.
Place all the ingredients except cherries in a small saucepan and simmer over a medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low simmer and cook until sauce has reduced by half. Add cherries and stir through. Leave to cool before serving.