Homemade eclairs made from scratch is not only doable, it’s actually quite easy to master. Equipped with my reliable recipe, foolproof method and lots of tips, you’ll be indulging in these fancy French pastries in no time!
Éclairs remind me of my childhood. My mom used to make these treats quite often when I was a kid. I probably enjoyed them just as often as you had enjoyed classic chocolate chip cookies. No, for real though. These were my mom’s specialty! They are so easy to make with just a few basic ingredients.
And when I say basic ingredients, I really mean basics like butter, eggs and flour. I know you have them in your kitchen.
If you have never made eclairs before, don’t fret. Seriously, if you can make chocolate chip cookies, you can made these as well.
Here I wrote a super detailed guide to making fool-proof choux pastry with lots of visuals, tips and troubleshooting guide. If you want flawless eclair shells, start there.
Steam evaporated during baking lifts the pastry nice and tall, creating this beautiful hollow interior, ready to be filled with rich pastry cream! It’s pure magic to watch these beauties to bake.
Classic eclairs are filled with classic vanilla pastry cream, or crème pâtissière, in french.
HOW TO FILL ECLAIRS?
There 2 ways you can fill those puffy eclair shells:
- Make a small slit with a sharp pairing knife on the side of pastry shells, and fill the eclairs through that.
2. Or you can make 2 holes on the bottom of the shells, as pictured below, and fill eclairs through those holes. I like this method better, because it produces cleaner presentation!
And lastly, dip the filled eclairs in rich chocolate ganache. Can’t imagine classic eclairs without chocolate glaze!!
These are now my husband’s favorite, and I know you’ll love them too!
Classic Eclairs with Vanilla Pastry Cream
For Pastry Shells:
- 1 cup 240ml water
- ½ cup 115gr unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup 125gr all-purpose flour
- 4-5 large eggs at room temperature
For Pastry Cream:
- 2 cups 500gr milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup 70gr sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup 120 ml cold heavy whipping cream
For Chocolate Ganache:
- ½ cup 120ml heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup 175gr semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or silicone mat.
- In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar and salt. Slowly heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar and melt the butter. Once sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, increase the heat to medium high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
- When the mixture is boiling, remove the saucepan from heat and add flour all at once. Quickly mix the mixture until all the flour is absorbed. (We just made panade!)
- Replace the saucepan back to burner and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the dough, continuously mixing with a wooden spoon. The dough will start to form into a ball. Keep mixing for another 3-4 minutes until light crust forms on the bottom of the pan. (Note: It’s important to cook for at least 3-4 minutes to dry out the panade.)
- Transfer the dough into a mixing bowl with paddle attachment and mix it for a few minutes on low speed until the mixture is at room temperature, about 2 minutes. (No mixer? No problem. You can mix it with a wooden spoon!)
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. This will help to get egg absorbed into the dough quicker. Don’t add more than 2 eggs at a time! This is important, as you might not need to add all the eggs. The dough should be smooth and shiny, thin enough to slowly fall into a ribbon, but too runny. (Read more details in this post.)
- At this point choux pastry is done and ready to be piped into whatever size you want. Uncooked dough can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- To bake pastry shells, transfer the batter into a large pastry bag and pipe into 4-inch strips or 2-inch rounds 3 inches apart. Level peaked tops with a wet fingertip.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the shells are puffed up and golden brown, one baking sheet at a time. (Note: Don’t open the oven door the first 25 minutes.)
- After initial 30 minutes, quickly open the oven door and make a small slit on the side of shells, using a small sharp pairing knife. This allows the steam to escape and helps to dry out the inside of pastry shells. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until shells are crisp and golden brown.
- Transfer the shells onto a wire rack and cool completely before filling.
- To make the pastry cream, in a small bowl, mix together flour and cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla extract to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat off.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar until pale. Stir in flour mixture. To temper the egg yolk mixture, add about ½ cup of hot milk, while stirring vigorously. Add the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and set it over ice bath to cool. Cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the cream and refrigerate it.
- Whip heavy cream till hard peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream to the pastry cream and mix until well combined. Transfer the filling into a pastry bag with a small round tip.
- To make the chocolate ganache, in small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Do not boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips, and let it sit for good 2 minutes. Then mix well until smooth for couple minutes. Stir in butter to add some shine.
- To assemble eclairs, using a sharp pairing knife, make two holes on the bottom of each eclair shell and fill the pastry shells through the holes until the eclairs are filled. And then dip each filled eclair in the chocolate ganache. Chocolate glaze will set in about an hour at room temperature. If not serving right away, refrigerate filled eclairs.
Tips & Notes:
- Unfilled pastry shells can be stored at room temperature for 1 day.
- Pastry cream also can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Make sure to cover the filling with a plastic wrap touching the entire surface of the cream.
- It's ideal to assemble the eclairs the day of serving. Assembled eclairs should be refrigerated.
This recipe was originally published on January 22, 2013.