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I was a cook at a cafe recently that was buying in Hollandaise. I started making the sauce from scratch following the same basic procedure each time but got varying results. sometimes the Hollandaise would be too thick; more like a butter spread than a sauce. Then, for a real long stretch right up til I got my current office gig, the stuff wouldn't thicken at all and just stayed runny.

This is the procedure i followed every time:

  • Melt half a pound of butter in the microwave
  • Carefully separate 2 eggs
  • Add egg yolks to blender and blend until aerated
  • Add capful of white vinegar
  • Add pinch of salt
  • Slowly add melted butter

What changes should I make to this procedure so my Hollandaise will come out perfect every time? What factors were likely for causing the failed (too thick or not thick at all) batches? And how does the temperature of the liquid butter factor in?

No offense intended to any food purists, but I'm not interested in answers that feature whisks and/or double boilers. Answers featuring blenders/food processors only please. Thank you!

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When you say liquideous, do you mean that the sauce never emulsified, or that it did in fact emulsify but that the resulting emulsion was too thin? –  Henrik Söderlund Jan 19 '11 at 8:37
    
it just never emulsified. sorry for my incorrect, inexact terminology. –  Chicken Pie Jan 19 '11 at 9:56
    
I rather doubt that perfect Hollandaise is actually possible using a blender, given that you need to to heat it while mixing in order to make it perfect without a blender. Maybe an immersion blender with emulsifying blade could do it, if you were making a large quantity. –  Aaronut Jan 19 '11 at 23:39
    
considering i made perfect hollandaise more than once (consistency, flavour, the works) i reckon it ought to be a duplicable process, unless hollandaise is somehow outside the realm of science. from what you're saying aaronut, sounds like the temperature of the butter must be the key. –  Chicken Pie Jan 31 '11 at 8:40
    
Too thick = too much butter. Too thin = not enough butter or the mixture isn't emulsifying. Your method is slightly backwards though; egg-and-fat emulsifications (Hollandaise and its family, mayonnaise and its family, etc) work much better when you omit the acid at the beginning, and use it at the end to adjust flavour and texture. Temperature of the butter, so long as it is actually melted, is largely unimportant--in fact, too hot and your sauce will break. (Hot emulsions break easier than cold ones). The constant heating is to temper and cook the egg yolks, which helps with thickness. –  daniel Mar 2 '11 at 2:19
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6 Answers 6

If you have an Immersion Circulator and you pre-pasteurize eggs at 135F for 75 min, this blender recipe for Hollandaise Sauce works perfectly easy. The egg yolks of pasteurized eggs are slightly firmer and have already had some minor colloidal changes which make them hold just right in a light and creamy, almost fluffy hollandaise sauce. Also, the pasteurization process makes it 100% safe to eat the raw egg yolks without fear of salmonella. You can make the eggs ahead of time and use them directly from the fridge as well which means you can make this sauce in a couple minutes.

I've made the recipe as follows.

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks from eggs pasteurized at 135F for 75 minutes in an Immersion Circulator
  • 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • A Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (or Tabasco and/or other spices of choice)
  • Two Tablespoons of Water
  • Half a stick of butter

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients except the Water and Butter in a blender and pulse once.
  2. Put the water and butter in a pan and gently melt the butter until completely melted but do not allow to bubble.
  3. Add the warm melted butter and water to blender and blend for 20-30 seconds.
  4. Serve immediately.

This basically makes perfect tasting and SAFE Hollandaise Sauce.

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I know you say you don't want any answers that involve a whisk but there's a very easy way to make hollandaise pretty much a la minute if you use Harold McGee's method of putting all your ingredients (do not melt the butter, if anything it should be cubed and chilled) in a cold pan and setting them over your hob on a low heat and just continuously whisking. I've made a Bearnaise sauce in the the time it's taken my steak to rest using this method so I think it is practical for your situation in the cafe; it certainly feels like it would be easier than having to drip individual drops of melted butter into a tilted food processor.

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I have used a blender hollandaise recipe for 30 years without fail until recently when we upgraded our blender to a very high powered Vitamix they sell at Costco and trade shows. I attempted to make "hollandaise" three times with the new blender and the mix would not incorporate and my sauce was basically flavoured curdled butter. I read this article, paid more attentions to the blades, etc. and sure enough, the egg and lemon juice were below the blades. I tilted the machine and blended, while my husband poured in the hot butter and miraculously the sauce was perfect this time. Thanks for the heads up on the blades!

My recipe is 1 whole egg, 1 or 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon mustard. Blend egg, lemon juice and mustard for a minute or so, then drizzle in a cup of hot melted butter, with the blender running the whole time. I have never been too careful about any of the measurements yet the result has always been good. I am going to try using less butter than suggested next time as I have seen a few recipes that have only 1/2 or 3/4 cup butter. This hollandaise is probably a bit firmer than the "real" thing but when you put it on eggs benny or asparagus it softens slightly and looks the same. Especially if you put it under the broiler for a bit. Can't imagine why anyone would buy the packaged mix!

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My blender hollaindaise has never failed me. I blend 3 egg yolks, salt, 1 T hot water, dash or 2 of tabasco, 1 T lemon juice, and grated lemon peel if you want it very lemony. Then slowly pour in your hot frothy butter that I melt in the microwave. You can actually hear the emulsification take place. If it is too thick, simply add a little hot water and blend it.

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The recommendation to add liquid is key here. I forget where I read it, I think it might have been Michael Ruhlman... but the key to proper emulsification is not just eqq yolk, but liquid/water. So you might need a bit more lemon juice or water, but I'm pretty sure that this is the cause of failure to emulsify. –  RaeLehman Mar 20 '12 at 14:48
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I have used the exact same procedure that you describe on a number of occasions, and the result has always been a thick butter-like consistency, and I think that this is pretty much unavoidable when using a food processor. Maybe you can get a thinner consistency if you use the whole egg like ElendilTheTall suggested.

Anyway, since the sauce never emulsified, I think you have been pouring in your butter too quickly. It is important to just add a few drops at a time until the sauce has started emulsifying. After that you can go faster, but it should still only be a thin stream.

Also, something that I have noticed is that when using a food processor with only a small amount of egg yolks (or any ingredient, for that matter) is that the rotating knives will actually rotate above the ingredients and not actually mix them. When making hollandaise/mayonnaise, that will be fatal since you will just be pouring butter on top of a thin layer of egg yolks. So you might want to check your food processor and see if it works similar to mine.

While I realise that you use this recipe because it is easier than making hollandaise by hand in a bain-marie, I would suggest that you at least try making it "for real" once before settling on this method. The consistency is so much nicer. I think the flavour is better too but that may only be my imagination.

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+1 for both noting the position of the rotating knives (it's bitten me) and for pouring in the butter too fast –  kdgregory Jan 19 '11 at 12:51
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i did have a problem with the knives until i figured out the vitally important technique of tipping the blender. if you're mixing a small quantity and the volume just isn't enough to reach the knives, hold the blender steady in two hands so it doesn't slip and spill, (i've done that too) and pull the top towards you. the angle should help the small volume meet the blades and there you go. –  Chicken Pie Jan 22 '11 at 13:21
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That is clever. So simple, and yet it would never have occured to me. –  Henrik Söderlund Jan 22 '11 at 14:51
    
no worries. and Henrik, i definitely have made hollandaise by hand, and will again, but when i'm the lone cook in a cafe with 20 tables, stopping everything and getting out the whisk just isn't an option. –  Chicken Pie Jan 31 '11 at 8:44
    
Understood, Chicken Pie (awesome username, by the way; Carla from Top Chef Allstars would love it), but Hollandaise holds relatively well; most restaurants that make their own don't whisk up a brand new batch for every order. Make enough ahead of time and hold in a warm (NOT hot) bain marie. –  daniel Mar 2 '11 at 2:15
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I have a recipe for blender Hollandaise that calls for whole eggs, not separated. Simply blend them until frothy, then drizzle in the hot butter while the blender is running. Add lemon juice/vinegar and seasoning and stir well.

The same recipe made by hand just uses egg yolks, so perhaps the whites help the consistency somehow.

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my knowledge of food science is limited, but i thought adding any whites at all would make the hollandaise fail to thicken. you've made them and it came out fine??? i'll have to try this just as an experiment! –  Chicken Pie Jan 19 '11 at 9:29
    
I've never tried it as I detest Hollandaise, but the description says it's foolproof. You would normally cook Hollandaise over a double-boiler I believe, but this one doesn't have any cooking at all other than the use of hot butter. Perhaps that's a factor. The ratio is 2 eggs to 1/2 pound butter. –  ElendilTheTall Jan 19 '11 at 9:36
    
I only believe 'foolproof' when the recipe is coming from someone like Alton Brown or Mark Bittman. Otherwise it's just marketing. I would personally be astonished if the use of whole eggs resulted in anything even remotely resembling a proper Hollandaise. –  daniel Mar 2 '11 at 2:16
    
This comes from Ron Silver at Bubby's in NYC. He seems to know what he's talking about in general. There's only one way to find out in this case though! –  ElendilTheTall Mar 2 '11 at 10:26
    
I make mayonnaise in this way, only instead of hot butter I use oil. –  w00t Jan 27 '12 at 11:06
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