Sauce Hollandaise

Recipe adapted from Mardi @ and Tyler Florence on

Servings: 4-6  Prep Time:  20 min.  Cook Time: 20-30 min.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • whisk
  • bowl (preferably stainless steel)
  • small pot
  • larger pot (large enough to fit your bowl, but not so big it will fall in)
  • REALLY strong arm

Here's what you do:

  • First, clarify your butter:
    • Place your butter in a small pot over low heat. Allow it to melt without stirring. When it's fully melted, you will see 3 distinct layers: a scummy layer on top (which you need to ladle off carefully), a clear yellow liquid layer, and a milky white layer under that. The clear yellow is what you want. You can either ladle it out carefully, or you can decant it (pour it slowly out of the pot, without allowing any of the milky white out).
    • The yellow is your clarified butter - the white is the water and milk solids (the parts that allow your butter to splatter, explode, and burn). You can discard the white part.
    • Set aside, and keep warm.
  • While your butter is melting, take your egg yolks and lemon juice, and whisk briskly in your bowl. (Make sure to keep an eye on the butter however, the water can overheat and cause it to splatter. It's fine to pause your whisking and deal with the clarified butter once it's melted). After about 5 minutes or so, your yolks should thicken and become lighter.
  • Traditionally, you place your yolks in the bowl over about an inch of simmering water. Some directions say to place them over the heated water before whisking, some say after. I'll be honest, in my experience, it really doesn't seem to matter. Essentially what you're doing it heating up the egg yolks so that when you add the butter, you're mixing two equally warm parts. If one or the other is too hot, the sauce will break, period. Continue whisking your yolks until they are hot, but take care not to over-heat them, as they can start to curdle (i.e. scramble). Mardi's husband suggests removing the bowl from the pot intermittantly to avoid overheating the yolks.
  • Once warm, remove your bowl from the simmering pot.SLOWLY start to whisk your warm butter into your warm egg yolks.
    •  If you are alone, get a towel, roll into a tube, and wrap that tube into a circle (like a giant towel-donut). Place your bowl over this circle. This accomplishes 2 things: a non-skid surface, so you can whisk one-handed, and it insulates the yolk mixture from cooling too rapidly (again, temperature is what causes your sauce to break). If you have someone you trust, use the buddy system. One person holds the bowl, whisking constantly, the other pours in the butter in a slow stream.
  • I personally don't trust anyone else, so I whisk solo. As you incorporate your butter, you will notice the mix wil thicken considerably. Continue adding a tablespoon or so at a time, whisking to fully incorporate before you add more. This can be a very slow process, but the more time you give yourself, the less likely you will be to have a broken eggs-in-butter sauce. Continue until you have added all of your butter.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over asparagus, Eggs Benedict, or just eat with a spoon, drifting off into a Hollandaise-based haze of unearthly delight.

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