Tempering Egg Yolks
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Egg Yolks, while desirable for flavor and thickening in sauces and desserts, will curdle if introduced to hot liquids too quickly. A culinary work-around is to temper them, or bring them up to the hot temperature slowly. If working with a sauce over 165°F (74°C) in which you want to add egg yolks for example, turn the process on its head. Instead of adding Egg Yolks to the sauce, first slowly add some hot sauce into the egg yolks and whisk the combination to bring the egg yolks up to temperature (temper them). Doing so will allow you to mix them into the sauce without worrying about curdling. Make sure to cook them well as raw eggs can harbor harmful bacteria. Smart Kitchen describes tempering egg yolks in Lesson 8: Stock, Sauces & Soups Basics and shows how in Lesson 18: Intermediate Stocks, Sauces & Soups.