Hollandaise sauce is one of the 5 mother sauces in French cuisine and is made of warmed eggs, a hint of lemon, then melted butter is added slowly, to form a thick, creamy, smooth sauce.
Because of the use of eggs and the application of heat, it deters many from attempting it, as the eggs yolks can quickly curdle, if not enough care is given. I assure you, it’s easy to make but first you need to know the facts.
Here are the facts to getting a perfect Hollandaise sauce:
Egg yolks must be heated slowly and gradually, otherwise they will scramble. For this, you need to use a double broiler and keep the water warm. Do not let it boil. Hollandaise is served warm not hot.
Add the butter gradually and in a thin and steady stream. Start with very small quantities, about a teaspoon at a time, making sure to whisk it all in before adding more.
The general rule is 85g/3oz of butter to an egg yolk.
It is best to make it just before serving but if necessary you can make ahead up to 4 hours, maximum. This is for health and safety reasons, as it is an egg based sauce. Keep it in a luke warm water bath.
How to save Hollandaise sauce:
To save one that’s already curdled, providing you haven’t overcooked the egg yolks; simply whisk the broken Hollandaise gradually into another beaten egg yolk. Then serve it immediately. It won’t be as delicate, but it will be fine.
To save a Hollandaise that is too thick; add a teaspoon of cold water or more, till desired consistency is reached.
If the sauce starts to separate, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cream and beat the sauce with a whisk till you reach a smooth consistency.
Derivatives of Hollandaise:
Bearnaise: the addition of tarragon and or use of tarragon vinegar in place of water. Also the addition of shallots or other herbs.
Mousseline: Addition of cream.
Maltaise: Addition of orange juice and orange zest.
- 8 oz (225g) of butter
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon of cold water
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over a low heat.
- Once the butter has melted, transfer to a pouring jug and set aside.
- Pour 2 inches of water into a saucepan and heat so that the water is gently simmering but not boiling. We are then (not yet!) going to add the bowl into the pot, as pictured above, so make sure it’s not too small or too big.
- In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the water until frothy.
- Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and continue to whisk the egg yolks for several minutes until they have thickened.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk the eggs for a further minute, in order for the eggs to cool down.
- Place the bowl with the eggs back into the saucepan but remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Very slowly, pour the melted butter into the egg yolk mixture, making sure that you continuously whisk the eggs whilst doing so.
- Whisk in the remaining ingredients until they have thoroughly blended together and the sauce is as thick as you require.
- Check the seasoning and then serve immediately or keep warm over a bowl of hot water for up to 30 minutes.