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I made a hollandaise sauce on the weekend and it split so I threw it out and started again but I was wondering if there is anything you can do to save it once it splits?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

You can rescue it by starting the process again, with an egg yolk in a bowl over a bain-marie which you whisk until it starts to thicken a little. then incorporate a little warm melted butter into the egg yolk. Once this is incorporated you can slowly start to add the split hollandaise and this should then incorporate into the new base, unsplit.

There is a video here

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Jacques Pepin, in his book "Complete Techniques", recommends to try first save the mixture as soon as you see it starts getting oily around the edges, by adding a tablespoon of cold water or an ice cube and beating well.

If that doesn't save it, then:

  1. Separate the mixture completely by stirring over heat.
  2. Tilt the pan and let rest for 5 minutes so the oily part comes to the top where it can be removed (but don't discard).
  3. Start with 2 tsp of warm water in a bowl and add 1 tbsp of the thick sauce at a time, whisking in until smooth at each addition.
  4. Start adding back in the oily part, beating it in like you were making the sauce from the start.
  5. If any parts have scrambled, put through a strainer.
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I made hollandaise with previously frozen egg yolks and got a curdled mess, no matter how much I whisked. I found this method, skipped ahead to the 'if that didn't work' section and to my utter delight, after whisking and whisking like crazy, just the least little bit at a time of the extremely thick sauce into the little bit of warm water, it came back creamy and smooth, even once I mixed in the oily part, till my hollandaise was as amazing as the first little batch from the first fresh yolks! I will never be afraid of hollandaise again! Thank you Jacques and JONTYC-whoever you are! – user19853 Aug 25 '13 at 16:21

This technique works well. If your sauce starts to split take the pot off the heat immediately and put he entire pot in the sink in an inch of ice cold water to cool it quickly. Add a tsp of ice cold water to the sauce and whisk vigorously. May have to add a 2nd tsp but don't add too much at once.

If you find your sauce splitting often try a little lower heat or a copper pot for better heat distribution.

To hold the sauce at temp a thermos works well.

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What I do is to take the pot off the heat, then put a clean pot on the heat and add between a tea spoon and a table spoon of lemon juice. Then gradually add the split sauce from your original pot a table spoonful at a time, or at a very slow trickle. Whisk the sauce all the time. It works like a charm.

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We put it back in the blender and pulsed a few times. Good as new!

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If a sauce has separated, take it off the heat, throw in an ice cube, stir. Saved me many times.

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Add a splash of cold milk and whisk. It is smooth and glossy within seconds.

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