A better way to temper your eggs


Many dishes both savory and sweet, ranging from silky custards to soothing soups, call for tempering egg yolks. The process can strike fear in the hearts of cooks because one misstep can lead to a clumpy, curdled disaster. Sometimes the technique is actually unnecessary, says Sohla El-Waylly, Assistant Culinary Editor at Serious Eats. She provides the when, why, and how of successfully tempering egg yolks.

First she tackles the why, which has to do with the unwinding of proteins found in egg yolks. After providing an indepth explanation of the science behind the process, El-Waylly turns to the when. Recipes that require the liquid to be hot when it is combined with the eggs require tempering, for instance when making avgolemono, the creamy Greek lemon and egg soup.

Since it would take an inordinate amount of time to cool down the lemon-infused chicken broth, combine it with egg yolks, and bring it back to temperature, tempering the eggs makes sense. But in applications where you aren’t infusing a flavor into the liquid, which would include many custards, you can combine all of the ingredients together and heat them gently without the need for tempering. 

Tempering can be a temperamental process. Get the yolks too hot without anything to buffer the heat, and you will end up with a curlded mess than you can’t fix. The traditional method is to ladle small amounts of hot liquid to the beaten egg yolks, but there is a more foolproof method: use a blender. You can use either a stick blender or regular blender to do the job, but the drawback is that you have to wash the blender. That might be a small price to pay for achieving that luxurious texture. 

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