There are many reasons to enjoy National Chocolate Éclair Day at Kathey Jo’s Kitchen. One of them is the pure deliciousness of it all.
An éclair is an oblong pastry made from choux dough filled with a cream and topped with icing. The éclair originated during the 19th century in France. It was called pain à la Duchesse or petite Duchesse until 1850. The éclair may have gotten its name from the flash of frosting that glistens across its top. When baking the perfect chocolate éclair, steam is essential to the construction of the inner hollow that’s filled with vanilla cream. It takes some patience, but once you’ve perfected your recipe, you’ll have something you can always fall back on for sweetness.
Did you know that MasterChef India pastry experts spent three days constructing a 26-foot-tall chocolate éclair pyramid in 2010? They took the world record! Let us know your favorite éclair recipe in the comments!
Perfect Classic Chocolate Eclairs
CHOUX PASTRY FOR THE ECLAIRS
- Eight fl oz water
- 4 oz unsalted butter
- ½ tsp kosher salt (modify if you’re using fine salt or table salt)
- 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 5 oz bread flour sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
- 8 oz eggs about four large eggs
FILLING FOR THE ECLAIRS
- 1 ½ batch of Vanilla Pastry Cream OR
- 1 ½ batch of Chocolate Pastry Cream
- 12 oz semisweet chocolate
- Six fl oz whipping cream ¾ cup
- A generous pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp corn syrup optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place the water, butter, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and heat over medium heat while stirring occasionally. (Make sure the salt and sugar dissolve completely in the warm water, and the butter melts BEFORE the water comes to a boil).
- As soon as the water comes to a boil (with a few bubbles breaking through the surface), move the pot away from the stove and add all of the sifted flour into the cooking liquid. Using a wooden spoon or a heat-proof silicone spatula, stir the mixture vigorously to allow the flour to absorb all the water and form a ball of dough, and remove any flour clumps in the dough.
- After about 45 – 60 seconds of mixing, return the saucepan to the stove (with medium heat), and let the dough cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes while stirring and mixing. Do this until you see a film of the mixture forming on the bottom of your saucepan (please note that this only occurs with stainless steel saucepans, not in non-stick pans).
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the dough into a large mixing bowl. Mix the dough gently, for about 2 – 3 minutes, to release the steam and to let it cool down (lower than 160°F). Alternatively, you can flatten the dough along the wall of the mixing bowl and let it cool down for a few minutes.
- Crack all the eggs into a jug and whisk well to combine.
- When the dough has cooled down, mix in the vanilla (I don’t use vanilla, but you can if you like). Next add the eggs in 5 – 6 additions, mixing each addition well into the dough before adding more. You can use a stand mixer or a spatula to mix in the eggs. Stop adding eggs when the dough starts to get a sheen and looks glossy. Please read the post for more details. Then check for the right dough consistency with the choux pastry test (detailed in the post).
- Place the dough in a 16-inch pastry bag and secure the bag opening, and set it aside until you get the baking trays ready. Line a baking tray with a Silpat mat. Also, have a bowl of water and a bowl of confectioner’s sugar with a small mesh strainer ready as well.
- Fit a different pastry bag with a ½ inch French star tip. Then snip the end off of the choux pastry bag from the previous step, and place that in the bag with the French star tip.
- Hold the pastry bag at a 45° angle, with the French star tip touching the Silpat. Pipe 8 – 10 eclairs (4 – 5 inches in length) on the Silpat-lined baking tray. When piping, make sure the ends are a little larger than the middle portion of the eclairs. Twist the piping tip at the end so that you end with a slightly pointed/jagged end.
- Dip your finger in water and pat the ends of the eclairs to flatten the pointed ends. Sift some confectioner’s sugar over the eclairs.
- Place the baking tray in the middle rack of your oven, and set the timer to 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, check if the eclairs have turned golden brown. If they have, then open the oven door and quickly prick each of the eclairs with a sharp toothpick or skewer on one end.
- Close the oven door and let the eclairs bake for a further 5 – 10 minutes until they turn a darker golden color. You want the eclairs to baked to hold their shape better.
- Remove them from the oven, and immediately prick the eclair cases on the other end. Let them cool down for about 10 minutes on the baking tray and then transfer them onto a wire rack.
- Pipe eclairs on the second lined baking tray and bake. Repeat until you have used up all your choux pastry.
- Once the eclairs have cooled down, they are ready to be filled. If you’re loading them later, place the empty shells in an air-tight container and freeze for later.
- Make vanilla pastry cream or chocolate pastry cream according to the linked recipes, the day before, and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
- Place the filling of your choice in a 16-inch pastry bag, with a small round tip (5 – 10mm in diameter).
- Use a French star tip or the round tip to carefully make three holes on the bottom of your eclair shells. Fill the eclair shells with pastry cream through these holes.
- Wipe off any excess pastry cream. Repeat with all the eclair shells.
- Place the chocolate chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl.
- Heat the cream and salt in a separate bowl in the microwave or a saucepan. When the cream starts to simmer, immediately pour it over the chocolate chips. Add the corn syrup and butter. Stir the chocolate chips until they have completely melted and you have a glossy chocolate glaze if the chocolate isn’t melted after stirring, microwave for 10 – 20-second bursts to melt the chocolate completely.
- Dip each filled eclair in the chocolate glaze (read the post for more details on how to cleanly glaze your chocolate eclairs).
- Place the glazed eclairs on a wire rack and allow the chocolate glaze to set.
- Serve at room temperature, or chilled.
- 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1 (8 ounces) container whipped topping thawed
- One box graham crackers
- One can of dark chocolate frosting
- In a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
- Line bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch pan with a single layer of graham crackers, breaking some if necessary, to fill the sheet. Pour half the pudding mixture over the crackers and spread evenly.
- Top with another layer of crackers. Pour the remaining pudding mixture over the second layer of crackers and top with the third layer of crackers.
- Carefully spread the frosting over the top layer of graham crackers. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve chilled and store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.