Cold curls of butter in a white bowl
Food - Drink
The Temperature Of Your Butter Can Make Or Break Béarnaise
As a descendant of the more famous Hollandaise, Béarnaise is a rich French sauce made of similar ingredients: egg yolks, clarified butter, and white wine vinegar, plus optional herbs like tarragon and chervil. To make perfect Béarnaise at home, it's essential to maintain the right temperature for the ingredients, including the butter.
Béarnaise should be a creamy, emulsified sauce, but it's prone to breaking or thickening improperly, especially if the butter is too hot or cold. Most recipes ask you to slowly drizzle melted, clarified butter into egg yolks and vinegar while vigorously whisking the mixture over a double boiler, and the butter must be at room temperature.
Butter that's too hot can scramble the egg yolks, while cold butter can cause the sauce to break, and to make things easier, you can use softened room-temperature butter instead of melting it. Just heat the vinegar with tarragon, chervil, and shallots, blend it with egg yolks, then add a couple of tablespoons of softened butter at a time.