Eclairs are a delicious puff pastry filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate. Yes, you can find them at pretty much any bakery but you can most certainly make them your own. This recipe is slightly different than what you may have seen but I promise you, this eclair recipe is fool proof and you will have yourself a bakery style eclair in no time.
This recipe makes about 50 eclairs so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you don't need that many but trust me, they go quick!
How are Eclairs made?
Pastry Shell Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups water (400ml)
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons oil (200ml)
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (300g)
- 5 eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pastry Cream Ingredients:
- 4 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 packets vanilla sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sugar
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
- 4 oz semi sweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Step 1: Make the puff pastry.
To make pastry shell, you will need only a hand full ingredients: water, oil, flour, baking powder, and eggs.
In a medium sauce pan on high heat, bring water and oil to a boil. Then, add in the flour and lower the heat to the lowest setting. Once you add the flour and baking powder to the boiling water and oil, you will have to mix very quickly with a wooden spoon. You dough will come together and form a ball. This process takes about 2 minutes and is very quick but make sure you are mixing the whole time to prevent the dough from sticking to the bottom of your saucepan. If you find that it is starting to stick, turn the heat off and continue mixing until all of the dough comes together and can be formed into a ball.
Before you add the eggs, you must let the dough cool first because you don't want the hot dough to cook the eggs. the Quickes way to do this is either cover the pan and leave it outside ( if it is cold outside of course) or you can place it in a ice cold water bath. Mixing the dough every once in a while may help make this process quicker.
Once the dough it completely cooled, add each egg one at a time. It's very important to mix each egg completely before adding in the next so that you get evenly distributed egg in the dough. The finished dough will have a rubbary feel similar to playdough.
Step 2: Forming the eclairs:
Eclairs are usually a long rectangular form which makes them different than cream puffs which are generally round. To give them their shape, I use a 1M Wilton piping tip but you can also use #8B open star tip. In a large pastry bag, add the the piping tip then fill the pastry bag with the pastry dough only about 1/4 of the way full at a time. For eclairs it is important to use a very strong pastry bag because it is a thick dough that will break your pastry bag easy.On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, squeeze the pastry bag to from the eclair, about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. This is just how mine turned out to be but you certainly don't have to make them all the same size. Leave about 2 inches in between each eclair because they will puff up.
Step 3: Baking the Eclairs:
This will be the most important step in the process because the pastry shell of the Eclairs is very sensitive to temperature changes. If you disrupt the baking process while they bake, they will not rise properly. Make sure your oven has reached it's temperature before placing the eclairs in the oven. I suggest preheating the oven before starting anything else, that way you know it has had time to preheat. The eclairs should be a gold brown. When removing from oven, turn oven off and crack the oven door open slightly and let the eclairs sit in the oven with the door cracked open for about 2-3 minutes. This way, when you take them out, it won't be a temperature shock and they will not deflate. Once the eclairs are out of the oven, place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before filling them with pastry cream.
Step 4: Make the pastry cream.
This might just be your favorite pasty cream of all time because it's SO easy to make. The ingredients you will need are whole milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar, vanilla extract and all purpose flour. Add all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and with using an electric mixer, mix until all ingredients are combined. Then, transfer the mixture over to a sauce pan and on medium heat, whisk constantly until it is thickened. Let the pastry cream come to room temperature until it becomes the consistency of pudding. You can either leave it at room temperature, which will take a little bit longer, or you can place it in an ice bath to quicken the process.
Step 5: Fill the Eclairs with cream.
Once both pastry cream and filling have cooled, you can either poke a hole in the eclairs and fill them with pastry cream using a pastry bag or you can cup them in half and place the pastry cream in the center. Either way works great!
Step 6: Chocolate Ganache.
In a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream just before it comes to a boil. Remove heavy cream from heat and add chocolate and to the heavy cream and let it sit for about 30 seconds then mix until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each Eclair with as much chocolate as you would like. I like to place the eclairs on a baking sheet and transfer then in the refrigerator so that they chocolate has time to set.
Step 7: Enjoy :)
How to store Eclairs:
Make sure to store the Eclair in an air tight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the eclairs in freezer bags for up to 2 months. To defrost, place in the refrigerator overnight.