The mastery of Eggs Benedict became my conquest back in high school, a task I challenged myself to each year on Christmas morning. Maybe it was the experimental-foods nerd in me starting to hatch, but something about creating the perfect emulsion of butter and egg in a Benedict’s classic Hollandaise sauce seemed like a challenge that I was willing to conquer each year over the holidays. I’m not quite sure why I put myself through the stress, throwing out countless batches of curdled Hollandaise. But the end result (once I finally got it right) was always well worth the battle.

Little did I know I’d go on to study nutrition and food science in college and learn the actual chemistry behind an emulsion (which, by definition, is a mixture of two liquids that should not ordinarily mix together… think oil and water). 

I’d also learn that the two main components to a classic Hollandaise are egg yolk and clarified butter, two top contenders in the saturated fat category. But a little goes a long way when it comes to portion control on this classic mother sauce, and in honor of National Eggs Benedict Day, we’ve got a few lighter options to offer.

Our May 2012 issue has a delightful vegetarian take on the benedict, with a light, frothy thyme-infused take on Hollandaise.

Our Crab Eggs Benedict, with fresh lump crab meat instead of Canadian bacon

Our spinach and mushroom packed version of Eggs Florentine, using lowfat buttermilk to fill in for some of the butter.

Our Brennen’s rendition of Eggs Hussarde, with a lovely red-wine spiked Hollandaise.

Splurge-worthy, elegant, and delightfully rich, sometimes the best Benedicts are the ones that someone else gets to make… and leave the stress of performing the perfect emulsion to a well-trained chef.  An easy way to lighten-up that Bistro-prepared Benedict?  Order the Hollandaise sauce on the side, and keep those eggs from drowning.

What’s your favorite way to eat Eggs Benedict?