Culinary Arts

Decadent Chocolate Éclair Recipe: How to Make Classic French Éclairs

Written by MasterClass

Jul 18, 2019 • 4 min read

Visit any French bakery, and you'll see rows and rows of shiny, colorful tube-shaped pastries filled with vanilla pastry cream. Welcome to the delightful world of éclairs: a versatile and light pastry that can be filled with any flavor of pastry cream and topped with any kind of glaze.

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What Is an Eclair?

An éclair is an oblong French pastry made from choux pastry, a thick egg-rich dough that gets partially cooked on the stove before added to a piping bag. The dough is piped into an oblong shape from a pastry bag and baked until golden, puffed, and hollow inside. From there, the éclairs are filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache or dipped in flavored glaze. Common flavors include vanilla, berry, pistachio, and rose.

What Is Choux Pastry?

Choux pastry is made of flour, water, butter, and eggs—its texture is thick and sticky. Instead of using a rising agent, the batter is beaten together on the stovetop until it forms a thick mass. The process traps steam, which gets released in the oven, creating a puffy pastry. This creates a crispy outer shell and hollow interior that can be filled with a variety of fillings.

How to Fill Éclairs

Fit a piping bag with a large, plain nozzle and roll down the sides of the bag to make it easier to fill. Using a large spoon, scoop the pastry cream into the bag, leaving a few inches at the top empty. Twist the end of the bag to seal.

Poke a hole into the opposite ends of the éclair using the piping tip or the tip of a chopstick. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into one end of the éclair and fill half way. Insert the pastry bag into the other end and fill the remaining half. Be careful not to overstuff the éclairs or they will pop.

9 Éclair Fillings

  1. Chocolate Pastry Cream: A chocolate lover's éclair with bittersweet chocolate melted and added to pastry cream.
  2. Peanut Butter Mousse: Fill an éclair with peanut butter mousse made from cream cheese, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, and whipped cream.
  3. Coffee Pastry Cream: Flavor pastry cream with instant espresso powder.
  4. Matcha Pastry Cream: Bright green matcha adds a smoky green-tea flavor to pastry cream.
  5. Pumpkin Pie: Add pumpkin purée and pumpkin spice to pastry cream for a fall inspired filling.
  6. S’mores Filling: Swap out pastry cream for a marshmallow cream filling. Top the éclairs with chocolate glaze and mini marshmallows. Torch the marshmallows before serving.
  7. Strawberry Cream: Mix fresh strawberry purée mixed with cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar. Garnish the éclairs with sliced strawberries and mint leaves.
  8. Banana Custard: Fold mashed bananas into whipped cream for a fresh, fruity filling.
  9. Vanilla Pudding: If you're short on time, combine instant vanilla pudding mix with whipped cream for a knock-off pastry cream.

How Long Do Eclairs Stay Fresh?

Baked éclair shells can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days, or frozen for up to six weeks. The chocolate ganache can be made up to two weeks in advance and stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to use.The pastry cream for the filling can be made up to one day ahead. Once éclairs are fully assembled, they should be eaten within a day.

Decadent Chocolate Éclair Recipe

Makes
12
Prep Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 50 min

For the Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • ½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cake flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Choux Pastry:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Make the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, vanilla bean, and vanilla bean seeds to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cake flour, and salt. Add the egg and egg yolks. Slowly stream in the hot milk, whisking rapidly until thick, being careful not to scramble the eggs. Strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes.
  3. Make the choux pastry: In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of water to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan and add the flour. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes until the dough comes together. Transfer dough to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat at medium speed until slightly cooled, about 1-2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, stirring until well combined.
  4. Transfer choux pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe 5 inch-long logs onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Leaving eclairs in the oven, turn down the temperature to 325°F and bake shells for 30 minutes more, until golden brown. Transfer shells to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, finish the pastry cream: In a mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk the cooled pastry cream to get it moving and then gently fold the whipped cream into the cream until combined. Transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag.
  6. Make the chocolate icing: Place the chocolate and butter in a wide heatproof bowl. Melt in microwave in 15 second bursts, whisking after each time to make sure the chocolate doesn't burn.
  7. Assemble éclairs: Make a small hole in either end the éclair shells with the small end of a small piping tip or chopstick. Pipe pastry cream into each end of the éclair, being careful to fill it all the way without overstuffing. Dip the tops of each shell into the chocolate glaze, and serve.

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