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éclairs on wire rack

Classic Éclairs Recipe

These homemade éclairs have a handful of steps involved, but they're all very simple to follow! The pastry shells are perfectly crisp and hollow in the center, sandwiching a silky pastry cream with a rich chocolaty topping. Read through the blog post and full recipe before starting for best results!
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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 20 to 24 éclairs (approx.)

Ingredients

For the vanilla pastry filling:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

For the éclair pastry shell:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

For the chocolate topping:

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet Baker's or couverture chocolate, (about 3/4 cup) chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Make the vanilla pastry cream filling:

  • In a medium sized, heatproof bowl, add your butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • Pour your milk into a medium sized saucepot and set over medium-high heat. Heat the milk until it just starts to steam and bubble around the edges. In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs, sugar, and cornstarch until you get a smooth, pale yellow mixture.
  • Gradually incorporate your hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking well after each addition. Clean out your saucepot and strain your mixture back into the pot. Place over medium heat, and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it starts boiling and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Pour your mixture over your prepared butter and vanilla extract. Whisk until the butter is melted and everything is incorporated. Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream (to prevent a skin). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using.
  • In a large bowl, pour in your 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a handheld whisk (if you want a workout!), beat your cream until it reaches stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into your chilled pastry cream. Keep in the fridge until you're ready to fill the éclairs.

Make the choux pastry dough:

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
  • In a large saucepot, combine butter, water, sugar and salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring up to a boil.
  • Once boiling, remove from the heat and add in your cup of flour. Stir until you no longer see any dry flour and it starts to come together into a ball dough.
  • Return the pot to your stove burner (still set on medium heat). Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until your get a thin film of dough forming along the bottom of the pot (pictured above).
  • Transfer your dough to a heatproof mixing bowl. Set aside to cool slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes) before adding your eggs. Give your dough an occasional stir to make sure it's cooling evenly.
  • Crack your eggs into a bowl or measuring cup, and whisk to roughly break them up. Gradually add your eggs to the cooled dough (about 1/4 cup at a time), mixing well after each addition. It's normal for the mixture to separate as you add your eggs. Just keep stirring until it comes together before adding the next addition of eggs! Repeat until all the eggs are incorporated and you're left with a silky, pipe able dough. *(see notes)
  • Working with a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, fill your choux dough into the bag. Pipe 4 inch logs onto your prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space in between each one. If you have any sharp edges peaking out, wet your fingers with water and press down any rough edges (they tend to burn).
  • Bake your éclair shells in the center of your preheated 375°F for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, go in and carefully poke holes on the tips of your éclair shells with a skewer to allow steam to escape.
  • Continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the shells turn a deep golden brown. The shells should also sound hollow when tapped. Take the shells out of the oven and cool completely to room temperature before filling.

Make the chocolate topping:

  • In a medium, heatproof bowl, combine your chopped chocolate and heavy cream. Heat in the microwave or over a bain-marie until melted and the mixture is smooth. ** (see notes for detailed instructions on each method)

Assemble the éclairs:

  • Poke 2 to 3 holes into the bottom of your cooled éclair shells. Fill your pastry cream into a piping bag, and snip a small piece off the tip. Insert the tip of the piping bag into the hole you just made in the bottom of the shell, and pipe until you start to feel some resistance (pictured above). Repeat this process to fill all of the holes. Dip the top of your éclair into your chocolate topping. Repeat with all of the éclairs.

Notes

* You may not use all of the eggs (depending on how long you cooked the dough in the earlier steps). You'll definitely need 3 and a bit or all of the fourth egg. Just make sure to gradually add in the last egg (or 1/4 cup) and stop once you have a pipe able mixture. I ended up using all 4 of the eggs this time around.
** To heat the chocolate in your microwave, place your bowl in your microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir. Return to the microwave and continue heating in 10 second bursts, stirring after each one, until your chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth.
To heat the chocolate in a bain-marie, pick out a pot that you can fit your bowl on top of, without the bowl touching the bottom 2 inches of the pot. Fill the pot with about 1 inch of water and bring up to just under a simmer. Place your bowl on top of the barely simmering water, and heat the chocolate and cream, stirring occasionally, until melted.
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