These pastry cream filled Chocolate Eclairs are a bonafide indulgence regardless of when they're served. Impress your family and friends and make your own bakery style chocolate dipped eclairs at home.
No Fail Chocolate Eclairs Recipe
While it does take several steps to make homemade eclairs, it's well worth the effort. The crisp crunch of the choux pastry combined with the dreamy homemade pastry cream is sheer heaven.
Helpful Tips for Making Homemade Pastry Cream:
- Ingredients you'll need to make homemade Pastry Cream: Sugar, cornstarch, half and half, large egg yolks, salt, butter and vanilla extract.
- The pastry cream can be made in advance and chilled, then piped into the éclair shells just before serving.
- Keep in mind, once filled the éclair shell may soften if left too long. It's best to fill shortly before serving.
- Should the pastry cream may have a slightly lumpy appearance after cooking, this can be easily remedied by pressing through a fine mesh sieve to smooth.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent a film from forming while it chills.
What is Choux Pastry?
Choux pastry, or pâte à choux, is a fancy French term for a delicate dough used for making various pastries. It consists of flour, water, butter and eggs cooked together then using steam to add a "puff" to the mixture in place of leavening. This same dough is used for making homemade Cream Puffs.
How to Make the Best Chocolate Eclairs Recipe
This recipe clearly goes the classic route of dipping each beautiful éclair in warm melted chocolate for the finish. Should you choose to, they can be simply dusted with powdered sugar, too.
Helpful Tips for Making the Best Choux Pastry:
- Ingredients you'll need to make homemade choux pastry dough: All purpose flour, large eggs, milk, butter, granulated sugar, salt and whole milk for the dough.
- It will take several minutes for the raw taste of the flour to cook out of the choux dough on the stovetop.
- You'll know it's done when the dough looks shiny, there's a film on the bottom of the pan and it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.
- Mix each egg into the dough thoroughly until the dough comes together before adding another egg.
- Puffs require a blast of heat to create the steam they need to puff and hollow out.
- When baked, the outside should be crisp, golden, with a hollow sound when gently tapped.
- After baking, it's important to find an inconspicuous place on each éclair to poke a hole to allow the steam to escape while cooling. A skewer or toothpick works like a charm.
- Once the eclairs are filled, the shells will hydrate rather quickly and soften. Due to this, I don't recommend filling too far in advance.
More Southern Style Dessert Recipes to Make
While eclairs like the ones demonstrated in this recipe are traditionally a French pastry, there's a popular potluck layered dessert that's known by the name of éclair cake, too. It's made with pudding and layered with graham crackers and can be made in many flavors. More éclair inspired layered desserts you may also like to try:
- Death by Chocolate Eclair Cake features layers of chocolate mousse, chocolate graham crackers and whipped cream all topped with a chocolate ganache.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Lasagna is for all of the Reese's cups fans.
- Chocolate Cherry Eclair Cake both of which require no baking at all.
- Pumpkin Eclair Cake from My Food and Family,
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- Pastry Cream:
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups half and half
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
- Eclair dough:
- ½ cup water plus 1 ½ teaspoon for egg wash
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 6 large eggs divided (use one for egg wash)
- Chocolate Glaze:
- 4 oz semi sweet chocolate roughly chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
- To make pastry cream: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan. Whisk together milk and egg yolks in a glass measuring cup; add to saucepan along with butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 1 minute, still whisking; then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
- Strain pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface of cream to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Just before piping into eclair shells, whisk until smooth.
- To make the eclair dough: Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- In a medium-size saucepan bring water, milk, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil.
- Remove from heat, mix in flour. Return to burner on medium and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour begins to pull away from the sides and forms a film on the bottom of the saucepan. The pate a choux should form a ball.
- Scrape into a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the dough for 1 minute on medium speed to cool slightly before adding 5 eggs one at a time. Stop after each egg to scrape the sides of the bowl. The dough may separate after adding each egg but, will come together when beaten.
- Mix until the dough is smooth and glossy and the eggs are completely incorporated.
- Use a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe long fat lengths of dough about 5-6 inches long on baking sheets. Leave at least 2 inches between each eclair. (You should end up with 8-10 eclairs.)
- Whisk remaining egg with 1 ½ teaspoon water. Brush onto tops and sides of eclair dough, using your finger to smooth any tips or bumps.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until puffed up and light golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often. Let cool on the baking sheet. Use a toothpick or skewer to pierce after baking to allow steam to escape.
- Use a medium-size plain pastry tip to make a hole in the end of each eclair. Using a pastry bag fitted with the same size tip, gently pipe the pastry cream into each eclair.
- To make the glaze: Heat the cream over medium heat just until boiling. Immediately turn off the heat. Place chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Add corn syrup, mix well. Set aside and keep warm.
- Dip tops of eclairs in warm chocolate glaze and set on a sheet pan. You can also frost using an offset spatula or spoon, using the back of the spoon to smooth. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour to set the glaze.
- Store chilled in an airtight container with wax paper between until serving.