Hollandaise sauce is sunshine on a spoon—silken, glossy, and the richest shade of yellow. It is lush with egg yolks, velvety with butter, and sparkling with lemon. Auguste Escoffier dubbed it one of the five “mother sauces” of cuisine—that is, one of the sauces upon which all other sauces, like béarnaise, are built. Compared to some of Escoffier’s other sauces, hollandaise looks simple. At least it doesn’t require you to reduce a cow and three bottles of wine into a tablespoon.
Hollandaise may be simple, but it’s not easy. Despite being named after the Netherlands (“Holland”), la sauce hollandaise is very, very French. It is finicky, decadent, and often unstable. Making it can be a sophisticated form of masochism. In a traditional hollandaise, egg yolks are thickened to custard by beating over simmering water in a double boiler to prevent curdling. Too much heat, and the egg proteins freak out and clump together. Too little heat, and nothing happens at all. Then butter must be emulsified drop by drop, coaxing and coating the protein molecules. No wonder we eat out when we want eggs Benedict, even if the sauce is sub-par.
But fear not, such trials and tribulations are a thing of the past. For our modern hollandaise, we use a revolutionary gadget called The Control Freak. It looks like a sleek version of the hotplate you had in college, but it’s way cooler. The Control Freak is an induction burner so precise that it can double as an immersion circulator. It precisely maintains the temperature of what you are cooking within a fraction of a degree. The Control Freak lets you make hollandaise without the headaches. It is like a Saucier for Dummies, allowing your proteins and fats to mingle at the perfect temperature, coming together in a marvelously sheened, saffron-tinted glory. No constant whisking, no double boiling, no mistakes.
So prepare to ditch your brunch reservations and make eggs Benny for twenty. Your sauce will be perfect whenever you are ready to serve it. Just leave it to The Control Freak—the machine, that is, not your partner/spouse.
It’s all about control.
The Control Freak, as the name implies, gives you precise temperature control (down to a fraction of a degree) over whatever you are cooking. Using super sensitive probes, it continually adjusts itself to maintain a given temperature. By contrast, if you pop something in the oven at 400°F/204°C degrees, the temperature of whatever you are cooking will fluctuate wildly. Ditto if you put something in a pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Whatever’s in the pot will go from cool to massively hot with virtually no control over the actual temperature.
With the Control Freak, you can make pancakes that will never burn. You can perfectly temper chocolate, maintaining the proper temperature at each stage. You can deep-fry without worrying about the temperature of the oil being too low or too high. Of course, you can sous-vide. And naturally, you can make your hollandaise—and you can hold it.
Essentially, The Control Freak is like the ultimate power-up for your cooking skills. It takes you instantly from being a bumbling noob to executing dishes that would challenge even a sous chef with years of experience on the line.
How to hold it.
Let’s face it, unless you live Downton Abbey–style, with a house full of servants, you probably won’t be eating hollandaise the minute it is made. There is asparagus to be chilled, eggs to be poached, and guests to be corralled. So how do you keep it warm and ready without breaking it? Julia Child recommended whisking in another Escoffier mother sauce, the béchamel. Other chefs advise keeping it in a warm place (but not too warm) for no longer than an hour. Unfortunately, none of this advice ensures that you will not be serving up a hot curdled mess.
Enter The Control Freak. If you tell it to keep your hollandaise at the perfect 140°F/60°C, no worries. You can leave your hollandaise on the Control Freak until you are ready to serve, knowing that it will be perfect every time. Try doing that with an oven or stovetop! (You can’t.)
150 g unsalted butter
85 g egg yolk
60 g water
30 g fresh lemon juice
3 g Salt
0.1 g Cayenne
Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place it on the Control Freak. Bring the temperature to 167°F/75°C. (We recommend not using the Control Freak’s “probe control” feature for this recipe. However, it may be helpful to use the probe as a simple thermometer.) Use a rubber spatula to periodically scrape the bottom of the pan while it comes to temperature.
Cook at 167°F/75°C degrees for 30 minutes, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan with a flexible spatula.
Using an immersion blender, puree the contents of the pan until smooth.
The sauce may be held on the Control Freak at 140°F/60°C degrees for several hours, until ready to serve.