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post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
So, hollandaise is one of those things I make almost weekly, or at least attempt to.

I love a good eggs Benedict and since I started cooking, I've been making my own hollandaise.

I can make it so it doesn't break, curdle, or scramble, but I still can't get it to taste "great". There seems to be 10000 ways to make it...and I try a little different every time. (sometimes, breaking it and having to start over) but still can't get it to "taste" great.

Last effort was 2 egg yolks, a little squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon or 2 of water.... beat for a little bit..... stainless bowl over pot of almost simmering water....whisking and whisking and.....I used a stick of melted/but not hot, butter and whisked it in slowly but surely.

a pinch of cayenne at the end. It just tasted not good and I'd have rather "box" sauce.

Consistency I can get perfect if that counts!

I try to use the best eggs and decent butter when I can.
post #2 of 21
Deconstruct hollandaise -- and it's basically four things. Velvety texture, rich-buttery-egginess, lemony acidity, and seasoning. Texture, you seem to have pretty much under control. Break the seasoning down to salt and cayenne and you have four of the five tongue tastes (salt, spicy, sour, savory (umami). The inherent sweetness of ripe lemon and fresh butter nod towards the fifth. So, in addition to the textural aspects, it's a fairly complete taste. These types of sauces are all about balancing the major taste components. To the extent that hollandaise is not a balanced taste, lemon is dominant.

However, what makes it so wonderful and satisfying is that the lemon actually is balanced -- by texture. Sharp, light taste -- smooth, rich texture.

So what's up with yours? The butter-egg savory thing is pulled by texture. Since you're happy with "consistency," we can infer you have butter and egg in the right proportions, and they're properly emulsified. Even so, the first change you should make to your recipe/technique is actually in this area. Leave the water to the side unless you need it down the line to thin the sauce. It's a beginner's crutch to prevent curdling and breaking, and you've gone beyond needing it. It's getting in the way of proper acid balance.

Tip: Nervous chef's keep boiling water on hand to thin, and ice cubes to restore broken sauces. If your sauce breaks, add an ice cube and whisk the h*!! out of it, it will usually come back together.

Cooking with lemon is a little tricky because it loses its fresh bouquet so quickly and with so little heat. You've talked about butter and egg quality, but I think your lemons may be more of a problem. Adding lemon juice after you have an emulsion is occasionally problematic in that it might break. So, start with at least 1 to 1-1/2 tbs of lemon juice. When walking the too-much-too-little tight rope, bear in mind that lemon is unusual. It's better to be a bit too lemony. The lemon flavor weakens appreciably within minutes.

I think you're better off adding both the salt and cayenne off heat -- just remember to taste and adjust. This is true for salt especially. Recipe amounts are only a guide and not keyed to the actual saltiness of your butter. I've had good luck using peppers other than cayenne. Chile de arbol is similar, but not quite as strong and allows a little more leeway. Tabasco sauce, with its own salt and vinegar, is also very good.

FWIW, the classic, Cordon Bleu technique is to use solid, not melted butter and add it in thirds. "Blender hollandaise" (3 egg yolks, 2 tbs lemon, 1/4 tsp salt, pinch cayenne; melt 1 stick butter to bubbly, whir everything but the butter on high for 10 seconds, add the hot butter in a slow steady stream) is the surest.

post #3 of 21
I only have home experience, but that doesn't stop me from having an opinion;). I think egg quality does make a difference. When you eat the sauce on something, the egg flavor stands out more. Also saltiness is a factor for me, having cooked low sodium food for others, I now prefer less salt. I use unsalted butter and add salt to taste. But maybe I've lost my credibility anyway. I've been converted to the scandalous version that folds the whipped whites at the end. It's a lighter and softer flavor with vegetables.
post #4 of 21
didnt see you did say lemon.

mayeb try adding a littel bitm ore lemon to it.

i dont like hollandaise but thats just me.
post #5 of 21
Since seasoning is part of your problem, I'll confess one of my hollandaise heresies: a little dijon mustard. Yes, it helps emulsify, but I don't have a problem with emulsification without it either. I do it for the flavor. I also prefer a shot of hot sauce to cayenne but BDL lists it as an option, it's probably not too heretical.

My other heresy is that I make it over direct heat. Very low direct heat. But I don't like the time it takes with the double boiler method. And I don't have a blender so while my eggs are cooking, I'm whisking like mad.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
thanks guys, I'll give it a try maybe tomorrow if not this weekend.

Actually, I like the solid butter better than the melted butter method better, of all I tried too, didn't know what the difference was.

what are the recommended proportions butter to eggs (roughly, as I know egg yolks vary)

Julia says 2-3 oz per yolk.
post #7 of 21
I didn't have any training either, so I improvised my method many years ago:

Simmering water in a small saucepan.
Put butter in a 2-cup Pyrex (heat-proof glass) measure and set it gently in the pan.
Melt the butter in the cup.
Temper the egg yolks with a little melted butter in a small bowl. Add the yolks to the butter.
Stir with a whisk, making sure not to leave any bits adhering to the Pyrex cup. Don't leave this for one second!
Dribble in the lemon to taste. :lips:
Off heat, add salt and pepper (yes, ground black, and a small dash of cayenne) and the final splash of lemon.

If the sauce looks like it's going to congeal on the sides of the cup, I take the cup out of the water and let it cool slightly. There might be enough heat left in the glass to finish it at this point.

My sauce is always smooth and flavored to my taste. (Hey, other people like it too.) Hollandaise sauce is one of those things I'd want as part of my last meal.
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post #8 of 21
Maybe you are going to require a little bit more then a pinch of salt.

I think you can go up to like 5-6 oz of butter per yolk (Alton Brown's recipe on has 8oz per yolk). Try using clarified butter also. Not enough butter and your sauce is going to taste like an omelette and not like a delicious artery clogging delicacy.
post #9 of 21
You add enough butter until the eggy taste goes away.

Start with egg yolks and a little water, then add butter, then add lemon juice, then add salt and pepper and tabasco. So every step is a chance for you to taste.
post #10 of 21
I like the LCB method that BDL mentioned. Funny enough while studying at LCB my Superior cuisine Chef practically insisted that we use clarified butter for all hot emulsions. Never worked for me, at least not as well. I personally think that the milk solids in the butter add to the final product. I also use direct heat and the cold butter really helps control the heat.

I agree with Kuan and 1187. You really need to push it with the butter. Once your emulsion is established you'll be amazed at how much you can incorporate. Just add a little at a time. If it starts to break (or s*** the bed, to use a technical term) then turn to water to make it more dilute.

You also said (and, yes, I'm reading too much into this) that you would prefer "the box" to some of your results. This is a bugaboo of mine. The box or pouch hollandaise has led a lot of people tho think that this sauce taste like something it doesn't. If you're expecting a knorresque result you'll have problems.

This leads me to my "cheat", what I came up with to appease my mother who finds real hollandaise too lemony (tart). Zest your lemon peel into cream and slowly reduce it to almost half. Strain out the zest and start your sauce with the lemon cream, just like you were with the water. You'll get a nice rounded lemon taste from the oil in the peel without the stringency of the acid. Not pure technique, I know, but it gets results.

If you can get your hands on duck eggs give that a try. The best I've ever had.

post #11 of 21

The Escoffier Way, Escoffiay Wer, Oh What the ****

I like to think of cooking as a modular art, with techniques moving from recipe to recipe and very few techniques or recipes as sui generis. You'll recognize the method of putting together this hollandaise as the standard "butter finish" you use putting together most butter liasons and emulsions. It's a solid method that hardly ever breaks or curdles because the cold butter controls the temperature so well. The method works consistently well, and results in a very glossy, velvet-smooth sauce. But it is time consuming.

In fact, on the rare occasions when I actually make hollandaise I make it the same two ways most people do. Whisking melted butter into eggs over hot water, or with a blender. I like the blender for its abilities to have the sauce done exactly when I want it done, and to do large quantities in a hurry -- at the expense of a little texture.

Tip: A good whisk makes a big difference.

There are two basic shapes of whisks: Regular, pear shaped; and round shaped balloon. Balloon whisks excel at putting air into whipped cream, egg whites, etc. They're useful when you want "fluffy." Regular whisks stir thoroughly and completely. For this purpose, as with almost all sauce making, you want a regular whisk. Flat whisks are becoming popular stirrers. They don't load up as easily as rounder whisks and get right into the corners of straight sided pots -- these aren't issues to me.

Regular whisks come with two basic types of handle. The thin wire-wrapped and thicker handles which may be metal, wood or "ergo" black rubber. The ergo handles are best. The wire wrapped handles are impractical for serious purposes and should be avoided or replaced.

Regular whisks come in three basic types of tines. Thick metal, thin metal, and "non stick." You want a thick tined, "French wire whisk" for your baterie. You actually don't see them that much, and never with ergo handles, but it's an ultimate chef's tool which powers through the thickest, stiffest batters. If you see one, snap it up. Thinner tines work as well for normal purposes, but the whisks don't hold together as long. If you use a whisk in non-stick cookware, I suppose it's a good idea to have a non-stick whisk. Why not?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... My version of the classic, cold-butter method:

1-1/2 Sticks of cold butter cut into 6 equal pieces
3 X-large Egg yolks
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Pinch Cayenne pepper (or, try three dashes of Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce)
2 Ice cubes

Fill the bottom half of a double boiler so that when the top is on, the top will be above and not in the water. PUt the bottom on the stove and bring it to a boil. Bring the heat down, so it is below a bare simmer.

Off the heat, place the egg yolks and the lemon juice in the top half of the double boiler, and whisk them very smooth. Add a piece of butter and place the top on the bottom, and whisk gently but constantly until the mixture starts to heat up, and the butter starts to melt. Check the water to make sure it hasn't started to boil. Adjust if necessary.

Add the second piece and whisk it in with normal effort. Continue adding each successive piece when the previous piece is a little more than half melted. When the sauce reaches desired consistency, turn off the heat and stop adding butter, but whisk a while longer. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

If the sauce is too thick, whisk in a little hot water (from the double boiler). If the sauce breaks or curdles, immediately whisk in an ice cube (80% chance of saving it). If the sauce does not break or curdle, partially melt the cubes in bourbon diluted with seltzer and apply internally.

post #12 of 21
Interesting comments, but the answer seems a little bit more obviouse to me, firstly the quality of the butter is very important secondly the butter must be clarified [ when butter melts the fat separates from the whey and impuritys] you should only use the fat part in your hollandaise. I have never heard of leaving the water out this gives you the volume before the egg yolks cook to much.
post #13 of 21
Less water more seasoning
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well bad news...

....I don't think I can ever eat Hollandaise that I didn't make myself again! :bounce:

Determined. I came home and realized it was Tuesday. Tuesday is the day my girlfriend has a class, then goes out with her girlfriends afterwards. Now, this is usually my "breakfast for dinner" day....where I gorge myself with pancakes bacon and eggs and a lot of carbs. Well, today was no different.

Loaded with 2 leftover from the weekend english muffins and a dozen eggs, I went to town.....

first I got the proper "tools"

Followed by the proper ingredients.

Then I said a prayer, and payed my respects to my BDL shrine over my stove....

...and went at it.

Oh yeah...and JUST in case...

getting there...too thin and not enough butter..yet....

ah, almost perfect....a quick taste....and I hold my breath..

a dab of this...and a dab of that.....a quick whisk.....and a quick taste...and...


I did it.......and not only did I "do" it....I REALLY did much that it tastes better than any I've ever had (or at least....can remember...and I've had many-a eggs benny!)

Perfect. very perfect!

but it was missing something....

....the rest of the meal!!!

 is where I have to come clean..........

....if you remember...I was home a ate both plates......:smoking:

Felt like I needed to smoke a cigarette like folks due after sex and I don't even like smoking.....

Ok I also "played" a little...I had a bit left over....and I had left it on the off-heat, but hot all-clad ever-so-heat-retaining sauce pan......when I went over to the was I said...Hmmmmm wonder if I can "fix it" and sure enough, an ice cube, and a vigorous whisk....and (I only use this when appropriate)....BAM...back to hollandaise.....recovered like a defribulator and cardiac-arrest.....

About time I got it to taste good!

Thanks all. Next time maybe I'll give it a try with the clarified butter and do a taste test.
post #15 of 21
Ah hah hah Mac, very good! :D
post #16 of 21
Great stuff, RPM but...

You don't need to parade this habit with us but you should certainly review it with your cardiologist! :eek:

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #17 of 21
That is so incredibly cool! Thumbs way up!

And thanks for the h/t,
post #18 of 21

blender hollandaise?

bdl or anyone,
i have never made blender you need to keep it warm? will it keep overnight and be good to go the next day? personally to me,hollandaise is just as tasty at room temp (can't vouch for the safety factor however)..i make a bbq hollandaise to nap over a spicy smoked prawns on rosemary polenta dish..what is the best method to keep the hollandaise during service? covered in a water bath? just on the back of the stove?..can i reemulsify it the next day by adding it to egg yolks or butter or anything?..trying to avoid making it every day if i don't have to or throwing it away each night..any suggestions would be great, thanks

food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #19 of 21
Joey, I know there are some tricks to keeping hollandaise beyond a service, but don't know what they are. The only reason I'm replying at all is keep the ball rolling and maybe bring in some other replies from people who do know. My entire professional experience with the hollandaise family of sauces is either making several times during the evening or darn near a minute. In fact, the great thing about blender hollandaise is that you can keep the ingredients ready to go on the piano and the refrigerator, and put it together in nothing flat. Just beat up a bunch of yolks, and into the fridge with those bad boy. Order up! Two tbs in a measuring cup with a squeeze of lemon a dash of tabasco an immersion blender and about, and 3 tbs or so melted butter from the pot on the French top -- Whammo! 2 servings. Fingers never left your hands.

You need to be very careful how you handle hollandaise and the variants because it's prime bacteria breeding ground. Hold it hot enough for safety, and it will curdle. The prime trick I know of for holding it during an entire service, or transport to the even site, is the magic "thermos bottle." Que high tech, no?

Try a blood orange hollandaise for the Benedict variants. Lime is way cool with fish.

post #20 of 21
Hollandaise keeps very well in a bain marie I have kept it for about 3 hours in this way. I am a little obsessive about bacteria though and if a sauce has been kept warm for a long time I would not chill and reheat it. If you want to make ahead of time there is a method to reconstitute. Reheat the sauce over a gentle heat, in another pan whisk an egg yolk with 1 tbs of water over a medium heat until the yolk begins to stiffen. Once your sauce has melted, slowly whisk it into the egg/water mix. It will look very broken but should come back together. It will not be as light as the original sauce though.

RPM I love your post on this :lol::lol::lol:
post #21 of 21
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