The Estonian Easter dessert.
(Ingredients, courtesy of my grandmother. Method developed by my mom’s trial-and-error experiments, and mine.)
2 lbs dry cottage cheese (This is sold in vacuum packs near the regular cottage cheese. Salted? Unsalted? Some of each? Up to you. I used 1/2 salted, 1/2 unsalted, but that’s just because that’s all Loblaw’s had.)
2 tbsp candied fruit
1/2 c sliced almonds
6 egg yolks
1/3 lb melted butter
3/4c whipping cream, or 1/2 c sour cream
1/2 lb (1 1/4c) white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
grated peel of one lemon
What to do:
1. Assemble the following:
• 2 large bowls
• Food processor or hand mixer (or both)
• Empty dishwasher or an accomplice willing to clean up after you
• Something heavy (like boxes of nails, or a brick)
2. Process cottage cheese until it’s somewhat smooth and put in a large bowl. My grandmother apparently uses a food mill for this.
3. Process currents, candied fruit, and almonds until they’re in reasonably small chunks but not completely macerated. Add to cottage cheese, but don’t bother mixing it in yet .
4. Process egg yolks, melted butter, lemon peel, sugar, vanilla and whipping cream or sour cream.
5. Combine with the cottage cheese mixture and mix well (this is where the hand mixer comes in). It should be kind of a soupy texture.
6. Line the other large bowl with cheesecloth. Transfer the mixture to the cheesecloth and tie closed. Place in a colander, put the colander in a large bowl, put a clean pot lid over it, and put it in the fridge (remember about those egg yolks). Then put your heavy item on top of the pot lid and leave it for a few hours until the texture is somewhat firm, rather like ice cream. About 1 cup of liquid will drain off.
7. Clean up the enormous mess all of this has created (or hand it off to your accomplice).
8. Remove the cheesecloth and transfer the pasha to a container with a tight lid (to keep it from drying out). Refrigerate.
9. Makes about 8 cups. Don’t eat too much at once — it’s really rich!