Classic Hollandaise Sauce

READY IN: 50mins




  • Put the cut-up butter in a 1-cup glass measure with a pouring spout, and microwave until completely melted and clear but not bubbling (or heat in a warm oven, 190°F., about 30 minutes). Skim off any foam from the top, and cool until lukewarm but still liquid.
  • Combine the vinegar, water, and seasonings in a 3-cup, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan, and simmer slowly over medium-low heat until the liquid reduces to 1 teaspoon. Mix in 1/2 tablespoon cool water, strain the liquid into a cup, and return it to the saucepan.
  • Whisk in the yolk, then 1/4 of the clarified butter. Place over medium-low heat, and continue whisking across the bottom and around the sides of the pan until the yolk-and-butter mixture thickens to a sour cream consistency. If the yolk is overcooked, it will start to scramble; if undercooked (as in "blender Hollandaise" recipes), it will taste raw.
  • Dunk the pan briefly in cold water; then slowly dribble in the rest of the butter off heat, whisking constantly, without including the milky liquid at the bottom. When all the butter is absorbed, the sauce should be the consistency of a medium-thick mayonnaise; whisk in the cream (or water) so it forms soft, slowly dissolving peaks.
  • To keep the sauce from congealing, set it in a pan of hot tap water, but the sooner it is served, the better.
  • If the sauce overheats or the butter is added too fast, the oily fat can separate out. If that happens, during or after cooking, it is easy to fix: Put a teaspoon of water in a small bowl, add a spoonful of the separating sauce, and whisk them together until creamy; then gradually add the rest of the sauce, spoonful by spoonful, until the whole thing is reconstituted.