Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Butter? Yes, please! (Hollandaise Sauce)

I know you wouldn't think it based on this blog post (and many others in here), but I actually eat fairly healthy.  However, today there is no time for healthy because I made hollandaise sauce; it was delicious.  And it wasn't just any hollandaise... it was Julia Child's hollandaise!  You may remember in my post about artichokes that I recommended making hollandaise if you are feeling fancy.  On Friday I bought my first batch of artichokes for the season, so I decided that this kind of fancy would be perfect.  It isn't too hard - just watch it carefully and get ready for an arm workout!

First you will need to combine 3 egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of water, and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into a bowl.  Whisk them until they get thick and the eggs turn a little lighter yellow.  May I suggest to all of you that use an egg separator to try using your hands!?  It is so much easier and quicker than fussing with that darn thing!

I don't actually have a whisk.  I am using the whisk tool for a hand mixer.  I suggest using a real whisk for this recipe... much less awkward.

Julia says that you should heat a pan over fairly low heat, but I miss disagree on this point and say that a double boiler makes making hollandaise much easier to control.  This is when you set a pot over another pot of simmering water.  It's easier to keep the eggs from cooking too quickly and nothing burns this way.  It's certainly not necessary, but it's just a little trick that makes it easier.

Stir constantly to make sure the mixture gets thick and the eggs don't overcook.  You will know it is thick enough when you move the whisk through the eggs and you can see the pan shining from the bottom.  Don't be afraid to leave it on the heat for awhile.  You want the eggs to be warm enough that they will melt the butter.

Remove from the heat when it's thick enough.  You will need 6-8 ounces of unsalted butter that is very soft.  It should be mushy but not melted;  it will be much easier to combine into the sauce the softer it is.

See how my fingerprint is left smushed in the butter so nicely?  That is what you're looking for... gooey butter.  Take one spoonful of butter at a time and add it to the bowl of eggs.  Whisk until it's combined.  Continue to add the butter until it is the consistency you like.  I like mine very thick so that it sticks nicely to whatever I'm serving.

I added the butter on the stove because I was having trouble melting it.  This made the sauce thin and I had to wait until it cooled to get the thickness that I wanted.  It did get there though, and it was worth the wait!  Once you have combined all of the butter, season the sauce with some salt, pepper, and cayenne for flavor.

It takes a little elbow grease, but it is worth it for this very special treat.  Especially when I get to my favorite part of the artichoke... the bottom!  Dipping the bottom into this hollandaise is one of my favorite indulgences!  The lemon juice and the cayenne offset the butter and eggs nicely so it isn't sickeningly rich!

I know that a lot of people have a mental block on hollandaise but it's not that hard!  And even if you screw up the ingredients are cheap!  Good luck!  What is the most difficult thing you've ever made?

Hollandaise Sauce
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6-8 ounces unsalted butter, very soft
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
cayenne, to taste


  1. Eclairs. They took hours to make, and I only ended up with 6. Ugh!