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Made with light and airy perfectly golden brown French choux pastry that is filled with creamy vanilla custard on the inside and then glazed with decadent chocolate, this Eclair Recipe is absolutely divine! Perfect for breakfast, dessert, or your next dinner party, this simple recipe is going to show you how easy making homemade pastries can be!
Easy Eclair Recipe
I have no doubt you’ve probably had the pleasure of enjoying a yummy chocolate eclair! It’s one of the most popular French pastries sold outside of France and one of the easiest pastries to make. Classic eclairs are basically just perfectly baked crisp and airy choux pastry shells that are filled with velvety smooth vanilla custard and then topped with a rich chocolate glaze.
Yet, don’t let the fancy sounding French words intimidate you. Like I said, this eclair recipe is super simple! The pastry dough used to make eclairs doesn’t require hours of chilling and folding like croissants, which are easy to make too but do require more time. Nope! Choux pastry, also called pâte à choux, is quick and easy. It’s the same type of pastry dough that is used to make profiteroles otherwise known as cream puffs. The truth is that French recipes aren’t nearly as complicated as they sound.
In fact, the choux pastry doesn’t even include any leavening agents. It’s literally just a mixture of flour, water, butter, and eggs that make the magic happen. The eclair shells puff up in the oven due to steam because the dough is so moist. This is why choux pastry is quick to make. But the same holds true for the cream filling, which also comes together in under 30 minutes. So while the eclair shells are baking in the oven you can easily whip together the custard that fills them. And the glaze is actually a quick and easy simple icing almost like a thin chocolate ganache made right in the microwave!
Why You’ll Love These Eclairs
- Quick and Easy! This is an easy peasy French pastry recipe. It doesn’t require hours and hours of your time and you don’t need to have any special baking skills.
- Classic French Pastry! Made with a delicate crisp pastry filled with vanilla bean infused custard and topped with a rich chocolate glaze, eclairs are divine deliciousness.
- Versatile Treat! Eclairs can be served in the morning with coffee as a decadent breakfast, after dinner as a dessert, or even in the afternoon just because.
- Choux Pastry – You’ll need a batch of baked Choux Pastry, which is made with simple ingredients like water, butter, salt, sugar, all purpose flour, and eggs.
- Vanilla Custard – Used to fill the choux pastry. Vanilla Custard is made with a combination of hot milk, vanilla, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and butter. In a real pinch, you could use vanilla pudding mix, but I highly recommend making this delicious custard.
- Chocolate Chips – I used semi-sweet chocolate chips to make the glaze but you can also use milk or dark chocolate chips if you prefer.
- Heavy Cream – Needed to mix together with the chocolate to make the glaze. Milk or half and half will not work.
This 3-step chocolate eclair recipe is pretty simple when broken down. You can easily do it in just a couple of hours. The most important thing is just to follow my easy instructions and I have no doubt your pastries will turn out perfectly!
To begin, you need to make a batch of my Choux Pastry, so check out my recipe for complete instructions with lots of pictures to help you succeed. Then pipe it onto a baking sheet in 3-inch long portions for eclairs and then bake it in the oven. My recipe covers everything you need to know on how to do it. I used a stand mixer, but you can also use an electric mixer or do it by hand. The most important thing is to get the dough to the right consistency and then add the eggs correctly.
While the choux pastry is baking in the oven, make my Vanilla Custard recipe. It’s super easy to do just remember that the custard should never come to a boil and it’s important to use a whisk. It also needs to chill for a bit before using it to fill the eclairs.
Once you’ve got your choux pastry baked, custard made, and glaze ready you can start making eclairs! First, use a small pastry tip to make 3 holes on the bottom of each eclair shell. Then fill a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip that is 5mm to 10mm in diameter with the vanilla custard. Now, fill the eclair shells with the pastry cream through the little holes that you just made. Then wipe off any excess cream.
Alternatively, you can cut the shells in half lengthwise and pipe some cream onto the bottom half, you can also add some whipped cream and berries.
After you’ve finished pipping the pastry cream into the shells, all you need to do is add the chocolate glaze. To do this step, dip the top of each eclair into the glaze and then place it on a wire rack. Then once all the eclairs are glazed, put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes so that the chocolate can set.
What Is The Difference Between A Cream Puff And An Eclair?
The two French pastries are actually very similar in that they are both made with choux pastry and often filled with some sort of cream. The only real difference between them is the shape and how they are served. Eclairs have an oblong shape and the filling is piped right into the baked choux pastry shell. Whereas, cream puffs are round and then cut in half before being topped with filling. So overall they are exactly the same.
Can I Make Different Flavors Of Eclairs?
Yes! Of course, the choux pastry needs to remain the same, but you can totally have fun with the filling and glaze. For example, eclairs can be filled with whipped cream, lemon curd, or even my Avocado Chocolate Mousse! And they can also be topped with different flavored glazes like the lemon glaze used in my Lemon Buttermilk Scones recipe. You could even glaze them some cream cheese icing or fold a bit of ground espresso to the chocolate glaze to make it mocha.
- Release the steam. Poke the holes in the bottom of the eclair shells soon after baking to release the steam. Doing so will help to prevent them from becoming soggy.
- Let the custard chill. Do not fill the eclairs with warm pastry cream. The vanilla custard needs time to chill in the fridge so that it can set or it can impact the texture of the pastry.
- Fill and glaze the day of. For the most delicious eclairs, fill and glaze the pastries the day that you plan to serve them. The choux pastry shells and vanilla custard can easily be stored separately.
Filled eclairs are best eaten the day that they are made. But leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Yet, the vanilla custard does not freeze well so I don’t suggest freezing them. However, it is possible to store unfilled eclair shells in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Other Delicious Dessert Recipes To Try
- Make the choux pastry as instructed in the corresponding recipes.
- Make the vanilla custard as instructed in the corresponding recipes.
- Add the chocolate chips and heavy cream to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.
- Use a small pastry tip to make 3 holes on the bottom of the eclair shells. Place the pastry cream in a piping bag fitted with small round tip (5-10mm in diameter). Fill the éclair shells with the cream through the little holes. Wipe off any excess pastry cream. Repeat with all the shells and cream.
- Dip the top of each éclair into the chocolate sauce then place on a cooling rack. Repeat with remaining éclairs.
- Pierce the bottom of each eclair with a skewer after baking to release any steam and prevent them from getting soggy.
- Make sure your chocolate ganache is fully melted and smooth before dipping the eclairs.
- To prevent your eclairs from getting too soft, keep them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them.
- If you’re new to making eclairs, practice piping the dough on a piece of parchment paper before piping onto your baking sheet.
- If you want a more pronounced flavor, add a little lemon or orange zest to the pastry cream filling.
- Practice makes perfect so don’t be too hard on yourself if at first you don’t succeed. Making eclairs takes practice, but the end result is definitely worth it.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.