Let’s make bakery-style eclairs at home! I promise, it’s really easy to make with very basic ingredients. Plus, full video tutorial and 8 tips to perfect eclair shells every time!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
Don’t let the fancy name and look to fool you. It’s truly quite easy to make eclairs, and takes only a few basic ingredients that you probably have on hand!
Chocolate éclairs bring so many childhood memories. They were my mom’s specialties, growing up! That means I have a time-tested recipe and perfected my technique over the years. Let’s do this!
Ingredient notes for eclair shells:
When I say you need basic ingredients, I mean basics!
- Flour – Although all-purpose flour works fine, bread flour works better for choux pastry.
- Water – A lot of choux pastry recipes call for equal parts of water and milk. For eclairs, I prefer all water, as I feel like it yields crispier shells.
- Butter – I prefer unsalted butter. If you opt for salted butter, omit the salt.
- Sugar – A little bit of sugar not only adds flavor, but it also helps with browning.
- Eggs play crucial part in this recipe, as it’s a main leavening agent that gives eclairs light and airy texture! The reason I’ve listed 4-5 eggs is because you may not need all of the eggs. In my video tutorial, I showed you what consistency we’re looking for when making the dough.
How to make eclair shells:
Let’s start with eclair shells, or choux pastry (“shoe” pastry). Watch my in-depth video tutorial.
8 tips for perfect shells:
- Slowly simmer water with butter, sugar and salt over medium heat. The goal is to dissolve sugar and salt completely before the water comes to a boil. Otherwise, you may evaporate too much liquid, throwing off the ratio of your ingredients.
- Sift flour to remove any clumps. And then add the flour all at once into the boiling liquid off heat.
- Cook the dough (it’s called “panade”) over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously. At this stage, we’re trying to evaporate as much moisture as possible, so that the dough can absorb more eggs. More eggs = better the pastry will rise!
- Cool the panade to room temperature and then add eggs one at a time, mixing the dough well after each addition.
- Make sure your batter is nice and shiny, thick yet runny enough to fall of the spatula slowly, leaving a V-shaped dough.
- Transfer the batter into a large pastry bag and rest for at least 1 hour before piping.
- Pipe the batter into skinny logs. If you pipe wider logs, they’ll expand during baking and you’ll get fat shells, which is fine too.
- When baking, do NOT open the oven for at least first 25 minutes to allow the eclairs puff up and set. If you open the oven door, you’ll let the steam out and risk collapsing the shells.
How to fill eclairs:
There’re 2 ways you can fill those puffy eclair shells:
Make a small slit with a sharp paring knife on the side of pastry shells, and fill the eclairs through that.
Or you can make 2 holes on the bottom of the shells, using a round piping tip, and fill eclairs through those holes. I like this method better, because it produces cleaner presentation!
Classic Chocolate Eclairs
For Pastry Shells:
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- 4-5 large eggs at room temperature
For Pastry Cream:
- 2 cups (500g) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup (70g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold heavy whipping cream
For Chocolate Ganache:
- ½ cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (50g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter optional
To make the shells:
- 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.
- Meanwhile, sift the flour.
- When the butter mixture comes to a boil, 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!)
- Put 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!)
- Then add eggs one at a time, mixing the batter 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.
- Transfer the batter into a large pastry bag, fitted with a round or star tip. Rest the batter for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 2 days. (Note: Make sure to close any opennings to avoid drying out the batter.)
- Pipe the batter into 4-inch skinny logs at least 2 inches apart. Level the peaked tops with a wet fingertip.
- Bake the shells 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.)
- Once the shells are baked, cool until safe to handle, cut out 2 wholes on the bottom using a round piping tip, or simply make a small slit on the side of shells, using a small sharp paring knife. Arrange the shells back on the baking sheet with the holes facing up. And bake them again for another 5 minutes. This dries out the inside of pastry shells and make them extra crisp.
- Transfer the shells onto a wire rack and cool completely before filling.
To make the filling:
- In a medium saucepan, bring milk and vanilla extract to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat off.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar until pale. And then stir in flour and cornstatrch.
- To temper the egg yolk mixture, take about ½ cup of hot milk and add it into the egg yolk mixture, while stirring vigorously.
- Now, add the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with remaining milk. Cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. (Note: It's normal if the mixture looks curdled in the beginning, be patient and it'll smooth out.) To see if the mixture is boiling, stop whisking for a moment. If it's burping bubbles, cook for 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Run the custard through a sieve, if desired, and transfer into a clean bowl and cover with a plastic wrap, so it touches the cream and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. (TIP: Don’t be alarmed if your chilled pastry cream looks too thick and lumpy. Simply whisk it until smooth again.)
- Whip heavy whipping cream till hard peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream into the chilled pastry cream and gently fold until well combined. Transfer the filling into a large pastry bag fitted with a round tip.
To make the glaze:
- Heat heavy cream until just simmer. Do not boil. Pour it over chocolate chips, and let it sit for good 2 minutes. Then stir it until smooth for couple minutes. Stir in butter to add some shine.
To assemble eclairs:
- Pipe the filling through the prepared holes on the bottom or a side slit. And then dip each filled eclair in the chocolate ganache.
- Let the eclairs set for about 1 hour in the fridge before serving.
Tips & Notes:
· Unfilled pastry shells can be stored at room temperature for 1 day, or frozen for up to 3 months.
· 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.