Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr
Eclairs are delicious and are much easier to make than they seem. If you'd like, instead of piping shorter eclairs, you may pipe long rows, freeze until almost firm, then slice into 3 inch strips. The eclairs do deflate if you take them out of the oven too soon, so be sure they are fully cooked. To help with this problem, you may turn the oven off when done and allow the eclairs to cool in the oven. Another tip to help keep the shells from deflating is to cut a slit into each eclair after it comes out of the oven to let out steam. I have included both a vanilla pastry cream recipe and a chocolate pastry cream. If storing pastry cream in the fridge, be sure to press some plastic wrap over the top to prevent a skin from forming. If you wish to save some eclairs for later, refrigerate the unstuffed, unglazed shells. Glaze and stuff with cream when ready to eat. The leftover chocolate sauce is delicious over ice cream! Time does not include cooling for the shells.
- 1⁄2 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
Chocolate Pastry Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
- 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona Guanaja, melted
- 2 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Vanilla Pastry Cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1⁄2 vanilla bean, scraped and keep pod
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2⁄3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 1⁄2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1⁄2 cup creme fraiche or 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- 1⁄3 cup heavy cream
- 3 1⁄2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
- 7 tablespoons chocolate syrup, warm or at room temperature
- START WITH THE DOUGH.
- Align the racks so the oven is divided into thirds. Preheat the oven to 375°F Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil.
- Add all of the flour at once, reduce heat to medium, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough will come together quickly and may form a slight crust at the bottom of the pan, which is perfect. Stir for 2-3 minutes to dry out the dough. The dough should be very soft and smooth.
- Transfer the dough to a stand mixer (or I've mixed by hand just fine) with a paddle attachment and add the eggs one by one. If the dough separates after the first egg, don't worry, it should come back together by the time the third egg is incorporated. When all the eggs are incorporated, the dough should be thin and fall back to the bowl in a ribbon when lifted.
- Pour the dough into a piping bag and pipe onto baking sheets.
- Bake in oven for 7 minutes, then stick the handle of a wooden spoon in the door to keep it ajar. Bake for 5 more minutes, then rotate the pans top to bottom, back to front. Bake for approximately 8 more minutes (with the spoon in the door) until the eclairs are golden brown and puffy. Total baking time should be about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pastry cream.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM.
- In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. While the milk is coming to a boil, combine the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy bottom saucepan.
- Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the eggs by putting a little milk at a time into the egg mixture while whisking. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk in the egg mixture.
- Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
- Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
- Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
- FOR THE VANILLA PASTRY CREAM.
- Bring milk, vanilla beans, and vanilla pod to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, combine the sugar, flour, and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and then add the yolks, whisking until lump-free.
- Remove the vanilla pod from the milk.
- Temper the egg mixture with the milk by pouring he milk little by little into the egg mixture while stirring to prevent scrambling.
- Once the egg mixture is tempered, return to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in the butter. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE.
- Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
- It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE.
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
- TO ASSEMBLE THE ECLAIRS.
- Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
- The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
- Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
- Serve immediately.