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Few sauces are guaranteed to intimidate cooks as much as hollandaise sauce. This is
no doubt because of the sauces tendency to break at the slightest provocation. Its also
easy to curdle the sauce by applying too much heat.

Hollandaise is made much like a mayonnaiseby slowly working fat into egg yolks
except that instead of oil, melted butter (or even better, clarified butter) is beaten into the
egg yolks. There is another significant difference: When making mayonnaise, the oil
must be added very slowly to form an emulsion. An emulsion is a kind of mixture that
combines liquids and fats that normally wouldnt mix. With hollandaise, the emulsion is
established before adding any butter by beating the egg yolks with air and water. Once
this emulsion is established, the butter can be added relatively quickly.

One common mistake is clarifying butter just before making the hollandaise and then
not letting the clarified butter cool enough before adding it to the beaten egg yolks. Keep
in mind that hollandaise is a warm sauce, not a hot one. If your hollandaise does
suddenly liquefy and separate, indicating that it has broken, make a new emulsion (in
this case, a sabayon) by beating an egg yolk with a tablespoon of water over low heat
and then, off the heat, whisk the broken hollandaise into the new sabayon. There are a
number of factors that cause a hollandaise to break: the butter is too hot, youve added
it too quickly, or youve added too much butter for the number of yolks. The egg yolks in
a hollandaise sauce can take on a lot of butter. I usually think in terms of a stick of butter
per egg yolka classic hollandaise is mostly butterbut the amount can also be made
much smaller, depending on your preference.

1. To make a hollandaise, combine 4 egg yolks with 4 tablespoons of cold water
in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably one with sloping sides that allow the
whisk to reach into the corners of the pan where the yolk could accumulate and
2. Whisk over medium heat until frothy. Watch carefully as you whisk the yolks and
dont allow them to get too hot, which will cause them to curdle.
3. As soon as you can see the bottom of the pan while youre whisking, the initial
emulsion is ready.
4. Add 1 cup/240 ml or more (up to 4 cups/950 ml) melted or clarified butter in
a thin but steady stream while whisking.
5. The finished sauce will look thick, almost like mayonnaise. However, if you made
your hollandaise with whole butter (which contains water), the sauce will be