This homemade hollandaise sauce is really terrific. I was always afraid to make it, because I thought it was time-consuming and difficult, but the whole process is quick –it is not more than five minutes total. The result is delightful and really special!
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
You’ll need to have either a double boiler, or something akin to it. A large glass mixing bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water can be used and is my preference. I like the glass bowl method because there are no defined edges where the egg yolks can elude the tip of the whisk and end up curdling. The simmering water should not touch the bottom of the bowl or pan!
When you have the hot water ready, put your egg yolks into the bowl and begin to whisk vigorously, off the heat.
The egg yolks will get frothy, at which point scoop a tbsp of hot water from the pan, and whisking all the while, add to the egg yolks. You’re still off the heat, just tempering the eggs to avoid the greatest pitfall of the process ….. too much heat too soon = curdling.
When thickened slightly, put it over the water for awhile, whisking continually, just to begin cooking gently. After a minute or so of this, take it off the pan and add the remaining lemon juice. Back over the simmering water it goes and whisk for another minute or two. Then back off the pan! Do this on and off again for a few minutes, hot mitt in the left hand, whisk in the right, heating things up and cooking very slowly. If steam starts to pop up out of the sides of the pan get it off the water right away and continue to whisk.
Once the egg yolks are full of bubbles but slightly thicker and a shade darker, begin to add the melted butter, approximately a quarter at a time. Continue to whisk, only putting the bowl on the pan for short periods of time (like 15 seconds at a time). Once a portion of the butter is added and absorbed by the egg yolks, add more butter. In just a couple of minutes, all the butter is in, it’s whisked and smooth, and just do the on again off again for brief 15 second intervals until it is as thick as you’d like it. Once it is thickened, add a dash of cayenne, and a small pinch at a time of kosher salt. The salt really brings out the lemon flavor, but can overpower very quickly!