If there’s one pastry that will make you feel like an absolute wizard in the kitchen it’s eclairs! Somehow a stovetop dough (??) comes together into these light as air pastry pockets for vanilla whipped cream and chocolate ganache. It’s a simple wonder and, with this chocolate eclair recipe, yours to unlock.
Today’s offering is the dessert companion to Marry Me Chicken and combine to make one heck of a Valentine’s Day meal, ifIdosaysomyself. But – these gems are truly timeless and even make for an incredible breakfast option. With hot coffee and a good book on the couch? Tell me it gets better and I’m humbly disagree.
Alright, friends – let’s choux (it’s easy I promise)!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this small-batch eclair recipe:
• unsalted butter
• kosher salt and granulated sugar
• all-purpose flour
• two large eggs, at room temperature (the temp part is important)
• softened cream cheese
• heavy cream – I love an eclair with whipped cream, light as air. You might prefer a vanilla pudding or a homemade pastry cream. Or maybe the raspberry rose whipped cream I added to these cream puffs. There’s no wrong answer here.
• powdered sugar
• vanilla extract
• semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
We’ll start by make the eclair dough – a stovetop-cooked French pastry dough called pâte á choux.
In a small saucepan (this is a small batch of eclair, after all) bring water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt completely as the water boils.
Remove from the heat temporarily and add the flour and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to work out any lumps and allow the flour to absorb the water. Return the saucepan to the heat, setting the heat to low, and stir the dough until it becomes a rather cohesive mixture.
Push the choux dough around the pan over low heat, allowing the dough to steam. You’ll notice the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and leaves a bit of residue on the bottom and sides of the pan. Some of the water will cook off as it steams, for 3-5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and give it a break. Allow the dough to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Our next step is to whip in the room temperature eggs. Cool the dough so it doesn’t cook the eggs when they’re added. That would be gross.
To expedite the cooling process, stir the dough around the mixing bowl. The dough will be just warm to the touch but not hot at all. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Mix each egg for 1 full minute. We’re asking the dough to do a lot of work to aerate and raise the eclairs.
After the last egg is incorporated, the choux pastry will be smooth, thick, and glossy.
Grab a rimmed baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
For that beautiful eclair shape you’ll want to grab your piping bag, fitted with the French star pastry tip. You could also use a large round tip if that’s what you have on hand. In a pinch, a ziplock freezer bag with a generous bit of the corner cut off will create the same log shapes.
Pipe 2 1/2-3-inch logs of pate a choux dough about 2-inch apart on the prepared pan. This is a small batch so you’ll want to eeek every bit of dough you can from the pastry bag to make 8 small eclairs.
Place in the oven to bake, undisturbed, until tall and puffed.
While the eclair recipe bakes, bring together the whipped cream filling.
Heres’s a pro-tip: add cream cheese to your whipped cream! Start by beating softened whipped cream around a medium bowl. Slowly beat in heavy cream until the two are evenly combined, followed by powdered sugar and vanilla extract or vanilla bean.
The cream cheese will help to stabilize the whipped cream (making it perfect for filling) and add a hint of tangy flavor to the filling.
The eclairs will bake to puffed and golden brown. They’re creamy and hollow inside, it’s a little pastry miracle!
Allow the baked pastries to cool on the lined baking sheet or on a wire rack until cool. Once completely cool you can store these in an airtight container at room temperature. I find it best to fill and top the eclairs right before serving. (If you’ve left the pastries overnight, just give them a quick toast in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes to freshen them up! Works like a charm!)
While the eclair shells cool, make the chocolate ganache. Bring cream to a very low simmer. Pour that hot, hot cream over chocolate pieces and let it sit for 5 minutes. That quality time will melt help melt the chocolate, allowing you to whisk it into a glossy ganache.
Look at this fancy filling tip! Is it completely necessary? No… you can shove a piping bag into your eclairs if need to. This pastry tip makes for more reliable filling and just imagine all the filled doughnuts you can make once you have this tip in your arsenal.
Plop each filled eclair into the chocolate glaze to top.
Marvel at your success! Can you even believe your chocolate eclair mastery? You’re the real deal – take all the credit. May I humbly suggest you tuck this eclair recipe away for anytime you need to impress yourself with dessert?Print
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 ounce cream cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 + 1 tablespoon cup heavy cream
- Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- To make the pate a choux, combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the flour and sugar all at once, using a spatula to stir quickly and vigorously.
- Return the pan to the burner and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture smooths to a glossy consistency and pulls away from the sides of the pan. The mixture will also steam and cook off some of the water.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. The mixture will still be warm but place in a medium bowl. Use a spatula to stir the mixture around the bowl to release some of the heat and steam
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing for 1 full minute between each addition. The mixture will look curdled with the first egg. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. The batter will be smooth and glossy after the last egg is added. Beat for another minutes after adding the last egg.
- Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. I used Ateco #869. Pipe into 2 1/2 or 3-inch logs set about 2-inches apart.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes of baking if necessary. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- While the pastry bakes, make the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a clean bowl with an electric hand mixer beat cream cheese around a bowl to ensure it is softened. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and beat to slowly incorporate the cream cheese into the heavy cream. Add an additional 1/4 cup heavy cream and mix. Followed by all of the remaining crew, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat to stiff peaks.
- To make the ganache bring heavy cream to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips in a small bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes before whisking to smooth and glossy.
- I like to fill the eclairs no more than 1 hour before serving. To fill the eclairs, fill a piping bag (fitted with a filling tip if you have one) with whipped cream. Insert the top all the way into one end of the eclair, squeeze the piping bag while slowly removing the tip.
- Dip the top of each eclair into the chocolate ganache and allow to rest on a baking sheet until serving. Refrigerate the eclairs to set the chocolate if you’d like.