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Who doesn't love a freshly baked and puffy eclair!? Especially when it's freshly baked in the comfort of your own home. This recipe is a family favorite that I have grown up to love and tastes just like grandma's house every single time. The best part is that it's easy enough that anyone can make!
There are 3 components that make up these puffy eclairs:
THE CHOUX PASTRY.
Choux pastry is the is a type of dough that is a slightly crispy shell with an airy center. Water, eggs, flour, and butter are the most commonly used ingredients in choux pastry. I also like to add baking powder. This makes the choux pastry puffier.
The first step in making the choux pastry is boiling water and butter together. The dry ingredients are then added to the water and butter. Lastly, everything is mixed together until the dough comes together into a ball. Adding the eggs is the last step and is done after the dough has cooled slightly.
This pastry has a reputation for being difficult to make for two reason. Consistency isn’t simple to achieve and it’s delicate to baked properly. However, if you follow my tips and tricks below, you will have a perfect result every single time.
There are a few tips and tricks to perfecting the choux pasty.
- Perfect consistency for the dough is being able to achieve “thick ribbon.” That means the dough should fall down into a thick ribbon when pulled up. It should not be so runny that the fully ribbons down without breaking. Also, it should not be a big ball of dough.
- Baking is so important when making the pastry because it is very sensitive to temperature change. Preheat oven to 425F. Once you place the piped pastry inside the oven, do not, and I repeat, DO NOT open the oven. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, decrease temperature to 350F, then bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown. Make sure the eclairs are a golden brown, and NOT light golden brown because if not baked fully, they will deflate. Once baked, remove from oven and transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Key takeaway: do not open the oven while these bake!
Pastry cream makes up the center of the eclairs. Although you can do that, I find it much easier to use vanilla pudding mixed with whipped cream. However, instead of following pudding packaging instructions, I decrease the amount of milk I use in order to make it a thicker consistency that will hold better inside of the eclairs. I then mix the pudding with whipped cream and this results in a creamy vanilla filling that is very easy to make!
This is my favorite part of the puffy eclairs. Simply mix chocolate and hot heavy cream until smooth and brush over the top of the eclairs.
Storing Puffy Eclairs.
To store these eclairs, place in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick butter
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- *3-4 eggs see recipe notes at the bottom
- 2 (3.4oz) JELL-O instant vanilla pudding packages
- 3 ¼ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- In a small bowl, wisk together flour, baking powder, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and salt.
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, bring water to a boil and add stick of butter. Once the butter melts completely in the boiling water, add dry ingredients and reduce heat to low. Stir rapidly until the dough comes together in a smooth ball. Turn off the heat and keep mixing with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes so that some of the moisture evaporates.
- Transfer dough in a large mixing bowl and using an electric mixture on medium speed, beat dough until it cools slightly (about 2-3 minutes). It does not have to come to room temperature but it should not be so hot that it cooks the eggs.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each one until it is fully incorporated before adding in the next. Test the dough after the third egg. If it forms a thick ribbon when pulled up, you do not need to add another egg. If the dough is too thick and does not ribbon down at all, add a fourth egg.
- Place dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe (14-16) 3½"-4" long and 3/4" wide logs, spacing them 2" apart on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You can also cut the bottom of the piping bag with scissors to make a hole if you don't have a round tip.
- Place in preheated oven and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Then lower temperature to 350°F for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown. Do not open oven while the eclairs are baking. They are sensitive to temperature change and will deflate if a sudden change in tempertaure occurs.
- Once baked, remove from oven and transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Prepare pudding by wisking together 2 (3.4oz) packages of instant vanilla pudding mix and 3 ¼ cups of whole milk until smooth and free of lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes or until set.
- In a medium bowl, using an electric mixture whisk 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 teaspoons of sugar until stiff peaks from.
- Once the pudding is set and stiff, fold in the whipped cream into the pudding until smooth and evenly combined.
- Place vanilla filling in a piping bag and pipe filling inside of each cooled eclair. You can do so by poking a hole in the eclair or you can cut the eclairs in half.
- Place filled eclairs in the refrigerator while the chocolate ganache is being made.
- Heat heavy whipping cream until hot and just before it comes to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add in chocolate chips. Let chocolate chips sit in hot heavy cream for about 30 seconds. Mix until chocolate ganache is very smooth.
- Brush the top half of each eclair with chocolate ganache.
- Refrigerate eclairs for at least 30 miuntes or until the chocolate ganache is set before serving.
*The amount of eggs greatly varies depending on their size. Start with 3 eggs. If the dough forms a thick ribbon when pulled up, do not add any more eggs. If your dough is too thick to ribbon down, add an additional egg.