Paska cheese is a traditional Russian dessert that is made with lots of farmer’s cheese, butter, and eggs. It’s eaten with a sweet, rich bread that is (usually) called kulich. Kulich is sometimes called paska, and paska sometimes has other names, too. But whatever you call them, they are a sweet and delicious and wonderful.
But some of us can’t have milk, and some of us can’t have gluten. If you love paska and kulich, and you can’t have it, what can you do?
For the kulich, you can try the Mennonite Girls’ recipe for gluten-free paska bread recipe. Or you can be less traditional — my banana bread recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free and delicious with paska cheese.
But what about the paska cheese? How do you make cheese without dairy?
I know that’s sort of a weird question. But last year, when I was asking it, a friend suggested adapting the recipe for paska spread from the Bob’s Red Mill website. It was a brilliant idea! The result is softer than “real” paska. But it’s sweet and creamy and delicious.
I made a batch while I was visiting my new grandbaby in Memphis. And since we’re still celebrating Pascha, I think I’m going to make another batch now!
Dairy-free paska cheese
8 oz container Tofutti trans-fat-free nondairy cream cheese*
1/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup cashew cream (the sour cream version) or Tofutti “Better than sour cream” **
2-3 Tbsp honey, to taste
1/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried tart cherries or dried apricots, coarsely chopped***
Zest from 1/2 lemon
Zest from 1/2 small orange
* Tofutti makes two kinds of nondairy cream cheese. Get the one with no trans fat. It comes in a yellow container.
** I think it’s just a bit better with the cashew cream. And cashew cream is probably better for you. But it’s faster and easier to use “Better than sour cream.” So do what you need to do.
*** The color from the cherries will bleed into the paska, so if you don’t want that, use apricots.
Beat together the cream cheese and coconut oil until light and fluffy.
Add cashew cream and honey, and beat until smooth,
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Paska and kulich recipes: My friend Natalie’s traditional recipe for kulich and her easy recipe for paska spread.
Let ALL the little children come, even the ones that need gluten-free food: Victoria Marckx, church school director at St. Demetrios Orthodox Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba, talks about providing food at coffee hour and parish feasts that is safe for people with dietary restrictions to share.
Rechenka’s Eggs: A Review: Babushka and Rechenka eat pascha and kulich in this wonderful Pascha fairy tale.