Learn how to make eclairs with this step-by-step tutorial! Classic eclairs, called eclairs au chocolat or chocolate eclairs, are made with French choux pastry and traditionally filled with pastry cream and dipped in chocolate. Pin it for Later »
Classic Chocolate Eclairs Overview
Eclairs are a classic French pastry. The shell of the pastry is oblong and is made from pate a choux, also known as choux pastry. The shell is classically filled with a vanilla custard called pastry cream and is dipped in a chocolate glaze. This traditional eclair preparation is known as eclair au chocolat which simply means chocolate eclair.
How to Make Eclairs
The process of how to make eclairs is broken down into the three components that comprise the final pastry. First the filling, classic vanilla pastry cream, is made so that it has enough time to cool before filling the shells. Next the choux pastry is mixed and then baked into hallow shells. Once the shells are cooled they are filled and then dipped in a simple chocolate glaze.
Make the Pastry Cream
- STEP 1: Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are double in size.
- STEP 2: Whisk the cornstarch into the egg yolk/sugar mixture.
- STEP 3: Heat the milk and vanilla in a pot on the stove until boiling.
- STEP 4: Nestle the mixing bowl in a hot towel to prevent it from sliding around while whisking with one hand. Slowly pour half of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture while whisking to temper the eggs.
- STEP 5: Pour the egg/milk mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk and cook on the stove, whisking continuously until it begins to boil and thicken.
- STEP 6: Pour the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
- STEP 7: Whisk the butter into the hot custard.
- STEP 8: Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the custard and chill completely before using for the eclairs.
Make the Choux Pastry Shells
- STEP 1: Bring the water, milk, and butter to a boil in a saucepan.
- STEP 2: Stir in the flour all at once until a smooth dough forms.
- STEP 3: Flatten the mixture to the bottom of the pan and heat over medium heat until you hear a crackling noise.
- STEP 4: When the mixture starts crackling, check for a thin film on the bottom of the pan. This indicates it is dried out.
- STEP 5: Stir the mixture off the heat until all of the steam evaporates off.
- STEP 6: Mix in the eggs one at a time.
- Note: Do not add another egg until the one before it is completely absorbed into the batter.
- STEP 7: Mix until a glossy batter forms.
- STEP 8: On a parchment lined sheet pan pipe the batter into about 1″ (2.5 cm) wide and 4″ (10 cm) shells. Use a damp finger to smooth out the tails on the shells.
- STEP 9: Bake.
Make the Chocolate Glaze
- Note: The glaze should be made right before assembling the eclairs.
- STEP 1: Cut the chocolate into small, fairly uniform, pieces.
- STEP 2: Stop the microwave and stir every 15-20 seconds.
- STEP 3: When the chocolate is almost completely melted, stir in the pieces of butter until a smooth glaze is formed.
Assemble the Eclairs
- STEP 1: The eclairs can be filled one of two ways. Either poke two small holes in the bottom of the eclair to pipe the pastry cream in or cut the eclair in half lengthwise and spread the pastry cream in the middle.
- STEP 2: Dip the top of the eclair in the chocolate glaze. The glaze will set up slightly with time but will not become completely hard.
Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
- To make the eclairs ahead of time, I suggest making the shells and the pastry cream and keeping them separate. The glaze can be made quickly right before assembling. Store unfilled shells at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- You can treat this as a base recipe to play with the flavors. Many people prefer the eclair shells to be filled with whipped cream instead of custard. You could also flavor the pastry cream in a variety of ways and use a different flavor of glaze if you prefer.
For the Pastry Cream Filling
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 98 gr) granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (1 oz, 28 gr) cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1/2 tsp if using Diamond kosher)
- 2 1/2 cups (20 fl oz, 590 ml) whole milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 2 TBSP (1 oz, 28 gr) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the Shells
- 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) milk
- 1 stick (1/2 cup, 4 oz, 113 gr) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- large pinch kosher salt
- 2 TBSP (0.9 oz, 25 gr) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (4.25 oz, 119 gr) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
For the Chocolate Ganache to Dip the Shells
- 6 oz (168 gr) bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate chopped into roughly even pieces
- 6 TBSP (3 oz, 84 gr) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- pinch of salt
MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until double in size.
- Whisk the cornstarch and the salt into the egg/sugar mixture.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and vanilla to a boil. Discard the vanilla bean pod if used.
- Wrap a damp towel around the bottom of the mixing bowl to stabalize it. Slowly pour half of the hot milk mixture into the mixing bowl while whisking continuously to temper the egg yolks.
- Pour all of the mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
- Pour the hot pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Add the butter and stir until melted.
- Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and refrigerate until cooled, at least 1 hour. This can be made up to 3 days ahead.
MAKE THE CHOUX PASTRY FOR THE SHELLS:
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
- In a sauce pot over medium/high heat, combine the water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture comes to a boil.
- Take the boiling mixture off the heat and pour all of the flour into the pot all at once. Stir vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth.
- Flatten the mixture to the bottom of the pan and put it back on medium heat. Listen until it starts making a crackling sound. Pull the mixture back and check if there is a thin film on the bottom of the pan. If not, cook a little longer.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until all of the steam has evaporated off.
- Off the heat, add one egg at a time and stir until it is completely absorbed into the batter before adding the next egg. When the batter is smooth and glossy looking, it is ready.
- Move the choux pastry to a piping bag with an open round tip (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off). On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe the shells about 1" (2.5 cm) wide and 4" (10 cm) long. The shells will puff up significantly in the oven. Use a damp finger to smooth out the tails on the shells. They will not all fit on one baking sheet so wait to pipe the next batch until right before they go into the oven.
- Put the shells into the oven and immediately increase the oven temperature to 450 F (232 C). The active heat will help the shells puff up. Bake at 450 F (232 C) for 8 minutes. Drop the heat down to 350 F (177 C) for 13-15 minutes, until the shells are golden brown and crisp on the outside. Let cool before filling.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
- Make the glaze right before assembling. Place the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Set the cook time to 2 minutes and stop and stir the chocolate every 15-20 seconds to evenly distrubute the heat and ensure the chocolate does not burn.
- When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove it from the microwave and stir in the butter and salt until you have a smooth glaze.
ASSEMBLE THE ECLAIRS:
- Transfer the cooled pastry cream to a piping bag with a small open tip (or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off). With a sharp knife, either poke two small holes in the bottom of the shells at each end to pipe the pastry cream into or cut the whole shell in half lengthwise and pipe the pastry cream in the middle.
- Dip the top of the shell in the chocolate glaze.
- Store eclairs covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
MAKE AHEAD: If you would like to make these eclairs a day or more prior to when you will be serving them, it is best to only make the pastry cream and the shells ahead of time, keep them separated, and make the glaze right before assembling. The shells are best kept in the freezer and pulled out about 30 minutes before being filled. The pastry cream can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300