Chocolate Eclair Recipe With Easy Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling
This chocolate eclair recipe is for a choux pastry log filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with an easy chocolate glaze. By varying the filling and topping, you can change this French pastry to satisfy your cravings. Popular variations include strawberry, coffee and miniature eclairs.
How to Make Eclairs
There is nothing too tricky about this chocolate eclair recipe, but there are several steps to the process. Each of the steps can be done separately and no one step takes that much time. The total preparation time (not including baking time) should be less than 90 minutes.
Make Pastry Cream
20 Minutes. Make the pastry cream filling first and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve. The cream for the chocolate eclair recipe can be made a day in advance. For a more thorough discussion on how to make this typical French filling see the details on pastry cream recipe.
Make, Bake and Cool Choux Pastry Logs
30 minutes preparation, 30 minutes baking. The logs are made from choux pastry which can sometimes fail if the recipe is not respected. For a better understanding of the process of making this pastry dough, consult this page on choux pastry.
Make Icing and Frost Logs
15 minutes. The easy chocolate glaze, which substitutes for the more traditional French fondant, goes together in next to no time. You can ice the logs and keep them at room temperature for several hours until you are ready to serve.
Fill and Serve
15 minutes. Wait until you are ready to serve the chocolate eclair recipe to fill them with the refrigerated pastry cream. I highly recommend a decorating syringe for filling the pastries in this chocolate eclair recipe. The syringe is easily filled with pastry cream and then poked into the pastries.
Warm the milk in a medium saucepan on low heat just until it begins to barely boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar for about 1 minute or until light colored and slightly thickened. Whisk in the flour.
Remove the simmering milk from the heat and add it very slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking the yolks all the time. Gradually whisk in all of the hot milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place on low to medium heat.
Heat mixture until it just boils and has considerably thickened, stirring with a wooden spoon the whole time. This step takes about three minutes and you have to be careful not to scorch the bottom of the mixture.
Remove cream from the heat and immediately pour into a bowl. Stir in vanilla extract and cover the top of the cream with plastic wrap (this keeps it from forming a skin). As soon as it has cooled sufficiently, place cream in refrigerator and chill thoroughly - over night if you wish.
1 cup water
6 tablespoons butter, cut in 6 pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 medium eggs
Set the oven to 425°F (210°C).
Place the water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan on medium heat. Heat just until the water boils and the butter has melted.
Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon for at least two minutes. The dough will form a ball, which will then dry out some from the residual heat of the pan. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating vigorously to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next one. The final dough should be stiff and sticky.
Fill a pastry bag equipped with a 3/4 inch tip with the choux paste. Pipe 4.5 inch (11 cm) long by 1.5 inch (3.5 cm) thick logs onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, leaving at least an inch between the logs. The recipe should yield 10 to 12 logs.
Bake at 425°F (210°C) for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F (190°C) and bake for 10 more minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door so it is ajar. Leave the logs in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before going on with the rest of the recipe. You can fix the choux pastry logs several hours in advance of serving time and just leave them out at room temperature.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place the butter and the cream together in a saucepan (large enough so that you can dip the pastries in it) and warm until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the cocoa powder and sifted powdered sugar. Stir to combine completely, then stir in vanilla extract. The glaze is ready to use right away. If it has cooled down and hardened you can warm it gently so that it is fluid enough to ice the pastries.
Dip the tops of the cooled choux pastry logs in the glaze, rolling them just a bit from side to side so that they are well glazed. Return them to a tray and allow the glaze to firm up (about 30 minutes) before filling with pastry cream. You can leave the unfilled glazed pastries at room temperature for several hours until you are ready to serve.
Fill a pastry tube or syringe (my preference) with the chilled pastry cream. Being careful not to smudge the chocolate glaze, pick up each pastry by its sides. Poke a small hole in the bottom with the tip of the pastry tube and fill with pastry cream. Each pastry gets about 2 1/2 tablespoons of cream. I like to poke two holes - each about a third of the way from the end of the pastry. Place the pastries on a serving plate and serve immediately.
You can also just slice the pastries in two and spoon on the pastry cream into the middle, then replace the top. A little less elegant, but nonetheless tasty.
This chocolate eclair recipe is best if the pastries are served fresh, but you can refrigerate the assembled pastries for up to a day.
Chocolate Eclair Recipe Variations
Chocolate Chocolate Eclairs - Substitute chocolate pastry cream for the vanilla pastry cream in the above recipe. To make chocolate pastry cream, add 4 ounces of finely chopped dark chocolate to the milk as it is warming. Stir to blend completely, then follow the rest of the recipe as is.
Coffee Eclairs - Substitute coffee pastry cream for the vanilla pastry cream. To make coffee pastry cream stir in 2 teaspoons of coffee extract in place of the vanilla extract in the above recipe. Top the pastries with coffee glaze. To make coffee glaze, substitute 2 teaspoons of coffee extract for the cocoa powder in the above chocolate glaze recipe. Add in a little extra powdered sugar to get the right consistency.
Strawberry Eclairs - If strawberries are in season, skip the pastry cream, slice the eclairs in two and fill the eclairs with sweetened whipped cream and sliced strawberries.
Miniature Eclairs - To make a miniature chocolate eclair recipe use the above recipes, but pipe the choux pastry into smaller logs - about 2 inch long by 1 inch wide. Bake for just 20 minutes at 425°F (210°C), then turn off oven and leave the logs in the oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes. The rest of the recipe remains unchanged and you should get about 20 to 24 mini eclairs.