Susan Speaks: I hate Passover


Those of you who’ve been here for any length of time know I’m Jewish. It’s not as big a secret as my birthday, and you’ll notice I’ve even come clean about THAT of late.

I’m a parent now, myself (as you know if you hang out here regularly). And that means that along with alternating years with each side of the family (that’d be MINE and HIS, and yes, I suck at that “alternating regularly” part, so let’s not focus on that but on the story that’s about to unfold, okay??), on occasion — always the MINE years — we wind up making holiday meals.

This year, we’re doing Passover for the four of us and my parents.

So, of course, the latent baker in me, the one I had to bury while I built the strength back up in my back so I could actually complete baking something without handing it off to my husband to finish — well, that latent baker is back. I baked cookies to take to a friend’s house for dinner over the weekend. Okay, fine. I made cookie dough and took THAT over to their house and baked it there. Same diff.

Six people, of course, means two desserts. Both baked from scratch. The husband wanted the cheesecake I’ve made him in the past. There’s no chocolate in that cheesecake, and since my middle name should have been Chocolate, not Helene, that meant … well, it was a joint decision. The Girl Band liked the picture in Passover By Design. So the Chocolate Mousse Pie it was going to be.

This cookbook came to us because I agreed to review it for Front Street Reviews — back in 2008. At that time, I didn’t make anything from it. It wasn’t Passover, and that was when my latent baker was off, waiting for my body to heal. I loved the book. It looked great. The food sounded like something we’d make around here. And a quick perusal of this Chocolate Mousse Pie made it seem like it’d be easy.

I am one who can’t do more than give a quick skim to a recipe before I dive in. I’ll get the ingredients out — usually — but I tend to take recipes step by step. Otherwise, I get confused. I do things out of order. I get ahead of myself, and disaster happens. Know that NOW.

I should have aborted when the directions for “6 tablespoons sugar, divided” didn’t mean 3 tablespoons used in two different spots. Nope. It meant one, then two, then three.

And where it says to “set a metal bowl over a pot of barely simmering water to form a double boiler,” it does NOT say how big that bowl ought to be. It never dawned on me to use anything but my smallest All-Clad sauce pan — I’ve been melting chocolate long enough that I don’t do the double-boiler thing. I’m trying to cut down on the numbers of dishes I wash at the end. It’s all about the back’s endurance, you know… Besides, All-Clad is freaking HEAVY. Even this small pan I’m using will be weighing my arm down, and it doesn’t help that today was a Boot Camp day. 30 minutes of push-ups and sit-ups. My arms are toast. Yep, I’m all about this little saucepan. It’s perfect for the sugar/chocolate/butter mix.

(Mark those words about the numbers of dishes I have to wash at the end. We’re just getting started.)

So okay. I’m melting the chocolate, the butter, and the sugar. I’m dividing the eggs. Break a yolk. Good thing the cheesecake needs four eggs; it was the third egg I opened where the yolk broke. Pour the separated eggs back together, add a fourth, put aside for the cheesecake. Okay. Not a problem.

But… I’d expected the egg whites to be beaten. Why the hell I put them in a cereal bowl, I don’t know. So I had to finish separating SIX eggs and then get out a bigger bowl, one I can whip the egg whites in. Not a problem. I whip away, as the directions say.

What’s this? Whip the yolks?? In the cereal bowl?

Really. I know better. Why I pushed the issue, I don’t know. Except it makes for a better story.

Okay… so we’ve got the yolks in a bigger bowl. They’re whipped until they are thick and lemon colored. What next?

Temper them. Okey-dokey. I’ve done this before. It’s no big deal. I take a ladle and have at it. It goes well.

I check the cookbook for the next directions and … what’s this? Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture?

I eye the saucepan I’m using. It’ll be tight, but… yeah. I can do it. I’ve got it.

Back to the cookbook. Fold large dollop of egg whites into chocolate.



INTO the chocolate? Into THAT pan, the one full up to the brim? You’re kidding me, right?

So I grab my biggest All-Clad mixing bowl (oh, how I love the All-Clad twice-yearly seconds sale! Where the world’s best pots and pans only cost the equivalent of your first-born’s freshman year college tuition, instead of all four years of that tuition.) and hope it’ll be okay. After all, the saucepan is still warm. The mixing bowl? Not so much.

Go figure that as I add the egg whites, I notice… since I was directed to whip them before the yolks, they’ve already started to separate. And of course, I don’t notice this until I’m halfway through the procedure of folding them into the mousse.

By this point, I’m swearing.

And then we get to the “Pour 3 cups of the mousse mixture into the prepared pan and bake… Store remaining mousse in refrigerator.”

While this makes sense, we’ve got to stop and examine the contents of my fridge. It’s full-up with THE REST OF THE UPCOMING PASSOVER DINNER. Even the beer’s in the fridge downstairs and there’s no way I’m running downstairs with a bowl of mousse. Not when I’m going to need it to finish this puppy off in an hour or so.

I shift some vegetables around, stack the yogurt, cram the top shelf as full as possible. Toss some leftovers in the sink. Voila. Room for my biggest mixing bowl.

Okay… next?


Take the hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven pan and put it in the fridge? The one with GLASS SHELVES? The one with NO ROOM?

Yes, boys and girls. I made room. Somehow. I put potholders down on my glass shelf. I held my breath and hoped I wouldn’t find the cake had fallen into the fruit drawer and ruined itself AND my fridge. I sorta like my fridge.

It all worked out okay, except I’m still having fits about this damn recipe. Better prep instructions would have been nice. A note about needing to use a large saucepan, so I could fit everything in it. Whipping the yolks before the whites. And a note to reorganize the holiday-stocked fridge BEFORE starting.

In the end, I wound up with seven or eight bowls that needed to be washed. I haven’t tried the pie yet as of the time I’m writing this (it’s 4PM on Monday), but the batter was tasty enough…

Oh, and the cheesecake? Other than the eggs, which had been a victim of the mousse pie, you’ll remember, I used ONE bowl: the bowl of my big KitchenAid.

Maybe my husband’s on to something and next time, I’ll be content with a cheesecake. For all that it lacks chocolate, it’s really quite delicious…

(and this humorous story barely scratches the surface of why I hate Passover, but we’ll deal with all that later, okay? I’ve got dessert to go eat. And baking clothes to change out of, and holiday clothes to put on.)



  1. Laura Henry

    April 19, 2011 8:10 am

    Isn’t baking FUN? Hope it tasted good!

  2. carol

    April 19, 2011 11:05 am

    I hope it tastes delicious. It better.

    I can totally sympathize though. Last night, all we were having was grilled chicken, asparagus and berries- I managed to fill the kitchen with smoke, used two pans and a serving dish for the asparagus, and have half frozen berries.

  3. Rachel

    April 19, 2011 4:46 pm

    Heheheheheh! This sounds exactly like me when i try to cook anything. I’m just not efficient, the way my grandmothers were in the kitchen. I try to make one dish, and it’s all I can do to see it into edible form. On the other hand, my great-grandmother used to make literally fifteen things at once, have the all ready at the same time, and they were made to perfection!

  4. Jaime

    April 19, 2011 9:16 pm

    Ahem. Chocolate cheesecake. 😀

    Just saying. 😉

    (I get asked to make this all the time and have been told my cheesecakes are ‘like mouth orgasms’.)

  5. Alice Audrey

    April 22, 2011 12:30 pm

    I’d have made the cheese cake and drizzled chocolate over it.

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