Mmmmmm. Hollandaise sauce. It is buttery. It has a hint of lemon and cayenne. It is thick and creamy. It is delectable. You guys – You.Need.To.Make.This. I know there are “blender recipes” out there for Hollandaise Sauce and maybe they are good. I honestly haven’t tried them, but I don’t know if I want to. This is the way Hollandaise Sauce was supposed to be made. The way Julia Child wanted us to make it (and who are we to go against what Julia Child said?). So don’t be scared – gather up all the butter in your house and let’s do this.
A while ago, I did a post on another French Mother Sauce – Sauce Veloute. That sauce has a Roux base to it, while Hollandaise sauce is an egg yolk and butter base. Sauce Veloute is unique in that it really is a blank canvas. You could turn it in to so many different sauce and soups. Hollandaise Sauce has a particular set of ingredients that you really don’t want to mess with too much (at least I don’t). I think you can have more fun coming up with amazing things to drizzle it over (salmon, asparagus, filet mignon….. I could go on and on). And I am sure there are some variations out there, but when it comes down to it, Hollandaise Sauce is what it is and it doesn’t need to be varied all that much. That being said, I know there are a multitude of varying recipes out there, but if you really break them down, they are going to have basically the same stock ingredients.
My “version” (I will use that term loosely here for the aforementioned reasons) is simple and classic, with a focus on just how long you cook that butta (no, that is not a typo – you say it like this “but-tah”).
First, divide out those egg yolks (save the egg whites for your next egg white omelette).
P.S. The egg matters – some egg yolks are darker than others and taste better…..
Get your lemon juice ready to go (yes, you need to use fresh lemon juice. Just trust me.)
Set those two items aside, and get pot of water going – just enough to cover the bottom. You will use this to keep your Hollandaise Sauce warm by placing a stainless steel bowl on top of it. I actually used my largest pot and then put my mixing bowl from my stand-mixer inside of it. It didn’t fit perfectly because of the handle, but it still worked perfectly.
Now add your butter to a smaller pot and let it slowly melt.
While your butter is slowly mixing, add your lemon juice to your egg yolks and mix, mix, mix …. and then mix some more. Or whisk I should say. Your arm is going to hurt, just keep going, you will work through the pain. Keep whisking until your yolks have doubled or tripled in size.
It should look something like this:
At this point, your butter should look like this:
Now I need you to pay close attention to your butter, because I believe this is where you can really elevate your sauce to the next level. In order to get a nice golden sauce, you should not only use good eggs, but you should also let your butter “cook” for a little bit. This is going to add extra flavor into your Hollandaise Sauce. So, I want you to let your butter simmer away – keep smelling it until it reach maximum nuttiness. Once it has a nice nutty scent, it is good to go. Place your bowl of yolk/lemon juice on top of your big pot of hot water and very slowly begin adding your butter to your yolk mixture. Very. Slowly. Like maybe only a dribble at first. Then whisk. Then another dribble. You get the idea.
As the process continues, you can add more and more. But watch out for the sauce “breaking” – when you start to see separation between butter and yolks. That is bad. Keep water on hand – if you see breaking you can add a bit of warm water and it is supposed to help.
Once you have completed the process of adding the butter, it will hopefully look like this:
This is when you add a pinch (and I mean just a pinch) of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Whisk those in and taste test before adding any more.
You can keep it in the “warming bowl” for quite a while (if you are serving a brunch this will allow you time to make the rest of the meal). When you come back to it, it will probably look goopy and not so amazing anymore. Relax. Add a Tablespoon of warm water and whisk it back to life.
Yes, I made something out of this oh-so-yummy sauce…. sorry for the teaser, but you are just going to have to check back if you want to see what it is…..
- 4 egg yolks (the better the egg, the darker the yolk, the more beautiful the sauce)
- 1½ sticks of butter (I used sweet cream, salted butter)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (just a little less than a Tablespoon actually)
- pinch of kosher salt
- about ⅛ Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- pinch of ground black pepper
- Whisk together egg yolks and lemon juice until double/triple in volume.
- Melt butter in small saucepan; let simmer or "cook" for 5 or more minutes or until it gives off a strong, nutty aroma.
- Place yolk mixture in metal mixing bowl over another larger saucepan with water at the bottom and place over medium heat; ensure bottom of mixing bowl isn't touching the water.
- Very slowly, add butter to yolk mixture, continually whisking.
- Continue until all of the butter is added (this will take several minutes).
- Add salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper and whisk again.
- Serve immediately or leave in "warming bowl" for an hour or so.
- Add Tablespoon of warm water to sauce that has been sitting and whisk to revive.