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Hollandaise is a rich sauce which is prepared by combining egg yolk, creamed butter with vinegar or lemon juice. The sauce is mostly known for its mild flavor but at times it is managed by a dash of cayenne pepper. Different variations of the sauce are observed as per the palate preferences and the sauce recipes for this underwent improvisations maximum number of times.

This is one of the sauces which made it to the haute cuisine mother sauce repoirtoire published in France. The sauce preparation was considered as tough task because the egg yolk crumbled during the time of cooking. The Hollandaise was named after a special Dutch sauce which was prepared in honor King of Netherlands who came on a visit to France. The sauce serves as the important element of dish called eggs Benedict. And this sauce is often served with steamed vegetables and fish.

Origin of Hollandaise Sauce
The first mention of the sauce occurs in 1651, when Francois Pierre La Varenne described about a particular kind of sauce which was prepared using the same techniques and ingredients used by the present day Hollandaise. A very different variation of the sauce also appeared in 1758 in the cook book by Francois Marin. The combining ingredients largely varied and omitted egg yolks and the food experts suggest that this sauce may not be the same as the sauce in question. But some culinary experts suggest that this sauce was served with melted butter. This indicates that the egg yolks were not the part of the recipe. In recent times, Harold Mc Gee explained there is no need to use the egg yolks to emulsify the sauce because it can be easily done with butter too. Even if there is a need to use the eggs then too it should not be used in large quantities. The culinary experts suggest the present Hollandaise using egg yolk- butter combination largely took form in the 19th century.

This sauce triggered off series of experimentations for which the French cuisine became popular in later times. Today it has become an integral part of many dish preparations which directly or indirectly use it in one form or the other.

Hollandaise Recipe: Method of Preparation
It is largely believed that the key to prepare the sauce lies in the proper usage of wire whisk and double boiler. The success of the Hollandaise lies in gaining the right emulsification of the combining ingredients which ultimately delivers rich, smooth and creamy texture to the sauce. The method of preparation resembles that of the zabaglione or sabayon preparation.

The yolk and lemon juice or white wine vinegar or sherry is whisked over warm water until they thicken and noticeable color change is observed. Then alike mayonnaise the emulsion is created by whisking melted butter in it. The volume of the water used for the sauce preparation and cooking temperatures largely varies. Some recipe variations suggest cooking egg yolk without vinegar or other acidic elements. In such Hollandaise variants the cubed butter is added to the dish in place of the butter blocks. The emulsion is created when cubes melt. The lemon or other acidic constituents are added towards the end. This method of preparation takes more time than the regular ones.

In another preparatory method the egg yolks are blended with lemon juice in a blender. The butter is drizzled to the blender. The egg yolks cook over the heat generated by the butter. This method of preparation is quite easier than the other preparatory methods. The only hindrance comes in the form of controlling temperature. This preparatory method is considered to be inferior to the other methods of preparation.

Some other Hollandaise preparatory methods suggest adding egg yolks over the melting butter. The sauce recipes following this preparatory method also suggest adding ingredients such as sour cream, nutmeg and paprika. The temperature and the proportions of the combining ingredients play an important role in shaping the form of the sauce.

Popular Derivatives of Hollandaise Sauce

  • Bearnaise sauce: This is one of the most popular derivatives of the Hollandaise. This sauce is flavored by use of herbs like chervil, parsley, tarragon, and black pepper. Sometimes blood orange, Dijon mustard, whipped cream, and white wine are also used in the preparation.
  • Vin Blanc: This one of the popular derivatives of the sauce which is prepared by reducing fish stock and white wine with this sauce.
  • Crème Fleurette: This popular sauce derivative is prepared by adding crème fraiche to the recipe.
  • Noisette: This Hollandaise variation is created by substituting the regular butter with browned butter.