Chocolate Eclairs

There is something oh-so-delicious and nostalgic about these light, yet decadent treats. And if you’ve got a little bit of time on your hands, they are SO worth making yourself.

We made these during our last weekend visit, and HOLY SMOKES, were they good. I don’t think they lasted the day, and we were not one bit sorry. Light, fluffy choux pastry, velvety custard, and, of course, CHOCOLATE – how could any part of this be wrong?! Trick question: it’s all right.

The ingredients you need are super straight-forward: eggs, butter, salt, sugar, milk, flour, chocolate, vanilla, and heavy or whipping cream. Got it? On to adventure and deliciousness!

The best thing to start with is your custard, which is the base for your filling. This part will take time, as it takes a little bit of time to cook the custard, and then to cool it (because no one likes soggy chocolate eclairs). Start by separating and beating your egg yolks in a bowl off to the side. In a pot, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Slowly add the milk while you whisk the mixture, followed by the egg yolks. This part takes patience: you need to bring the whole mixture to a boil over medium heat while whisking constantly. The whisking keeps your yolks from setting and creating lumpy, scrambled egg custard. Continue your whisking until the mixture reaches the consistency of pudding – you’ll know it when you see it and your arm feels it! Remove the mixture from the heat, add the butter and vanilla, whisking until thoroughly combined. Put your custard aside in a bowl to cool.

PRO TIP: don’t cool your custard in the fridge. It will form a skin, and you’ll have to remove it from the custard before use. We cooled ours on the kitchen table, whisking occasionally. If you’re in a time-pinch, an ice water bath in the sink will help the process along!

Time to make your choux paste! Pre-heat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a new pot, combine the butter, salt, and water, and bring it to a boil. Add the flour to the mixture.

Stir the mixture until it forms a ball in the pot. Remove it from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and beat the eggs in one at a time.

What you should be left with is a dough with a thick batter consistency: choux paste. Transfer the choux paste to a piping bag (or a Ziploc bag, as we ran out of piping bags…). You can use a circular piping tip if you wish, or simply trim the corner of the bag to your desired size.

Pipe your choux paste onto your baking pan with the parchment paper. These eclairs don’t expand much horizontally, so make sure you pipe them wide enough. That being said, they do rise quite a bit, so keep a mindful eye on how high you pipe them. Place them in the oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

When they’re done, place them on a rack to cool.

While you’re waiting for everything to cool, mix up your chocolate glaze. Combine your chocolate and your heavy/whipping cream in a bowl or in a saucepot. We melted our chocolate down in the microwave, but the stovetop works just as well. Either way, keep an eye on the mixture so that the chocolate doesn’t burn. Stir until smooth and combined.

Now comes the second best part – assembly! Slice your pastries in half, and dip the top half in your chocolate glaze – we used a shallow dish to make dipping easier. Transfer your custard into a piping bag (or Ziploc), and pipe it onto the bottom half of the pastry. (Note: we did add some whipped cream to our custard, but we found that it really thinned out the filling. Feel free to experiment with the amount you add, or add none at all.) Assemble your eclairs. If your will power is stronger than ours, cool them in the refrigerator for at least one hour to set the glaze.

Happy eating! 🙂


RECIPE

Chocolate Eclairs

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: approx. 2.5 hours
Serves: approx. 10 pastries, depending on your piping size

Ingredients

  • Custard Filling:
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 cups milk
    • 3 egg yolks, beaten
    • 3/4 cup flour
    • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)
  • Choux Pastry Shells:
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/3 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup flour
    • 4 eggs
  • Chocolate Glaze:
    • 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

  1. Beat 3 egg yolks in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk 1 cup sugar, 2/4 cup flour, and 2/4 tablespoon salt. Slowly add 3 cups milk while you whisk the mixture, followed by the beaten egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat and whisk until the mixture reaches a pudding consistency.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and add 3 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk until combined. Set custard mixture aside to cool.
  4. Optional: whip 1/2 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. In a new pot, combine 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup water. Stir the mixture and bring it to a boil. Add 1 cup flour to the mixture and stir until a ball forms.
  7. Remove dough ball from heat and add 1 egg. Stir until combined. Repeat for the other 3 eggs.
  8. Transfer choux paste to a piping bag or Ziploc bag. Pipe desired eclair sizes onto the parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Transfer eclair pastries to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Optional: fold whipped cream into the custard filling.
  11. In a saucepan or microwavable bowl, combine 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate. Heat until chocolate is melted. Stir until mixture is smooth and combined.
  12. Transfer custard filling to piping bag.
  13. Slice eclair pastries in half. Dip top half in chocolate glaze. Pipe desired amount of custard filling onto bottom half of pastry. Assemble top and bottom halves of pastries.
  14. Cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set chocolate glaze. Best served chilled.
  15. ENJOY!
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