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Blog

Eclairs

Patricia Reitz

Eclairs - ButterYum

Eclairs - ButterYum

I can honestly say, eclairs rank very high on my list of favorite desserts.  When I was young, I'd buy them from a bakery, but I now I know how to bake them from scratch at home.  Let me walk you through the process.   

We'll start by making the pastry which is technically called pate a choux (sounds like pot-ah-shoo).

In a 4-quart nonstick saucepan, heat water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar until it boils.

While you're waiting for the mixture to boil, have the flour and eggs ready. to go.

Okay, the milk mixture is just starting to boil - time to add the flour.

Add all the flour at once...

And stir vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed.

When all the liquid is absorbed, continue stirring constantly...

how to make pate a choux, choux paste, eclairs - lots of how-to photos.  

Until a smooth paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  We're not quite there yet, but almost.

how to make pate a choux, choux paste, eclairs - with lots of how-to photos.

Just a few more moments and we're done.  Remove the pan from the heat.

step-by-step photos and recipe for how to make pate a choux, choux paste, eclairs

Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor.

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

Add the eggs, mixing one at a time, until no traces of raw egg remains.

Transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (like this one).  I like to use disposable bags (like these).  Using a star tip helps the pastry dough expand evenly in the oven.

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

Pipe the eclairs on a silpat lined sheet pan.

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and bake.

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

They'll puff up during baking, which creates a hollow space in the center.  

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

That hollow space is just begging to be filled with creamy vanilla pastry cream (recipe here).

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

But before we can fill the pastry shells, we need to turn them upside down and poke a few holes in the bottoms.  I used a chopstick to poke the holes.  The holes will allow excess steam to escape as the shells cool, and they'll be where we pipe the pastry cream filling inside.

how to make eclairs from scratch.  how to make pate a choux from scratch.  how to make choux paste from scratch.  RECIPE AND HOW-TO PHOTOS

Place the pastry cream in a large pastry bag fitted with a bismark tip.  Squeeze the filling into room temperature shells - fill them up completely.

Use an offset spatula to scrape away any excess pastry cream.

To make the ganache, heat cream and chocolate together, whisking to combine.  Dip the tops of each eclair into the ganache and allow to set. 

Serve them as is, or place them in paper wrappers.  Just grab a standard cupcake wrapper and flatten it out a bit.

Like this.

Eclairs recipe and how-to photos - ButterYum

Then place the eclairs on the wrapper and serve. 

Here are links to some of the items I used in this recipe:


Eclairs

makes about 20 eclairs (3 to 4 inches long)

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Pastry Shells:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting

Filling:

Ganache Topping:

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (really good quality)
  • 8 ounces heavy cream

Directions

TO MAKE THE PASTRY SHELLS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. In a 4-quart nonstick saucepan, heat the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar until it boils.
  3. Immediately add the flour and stir vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed by the flour and a paste forms; continue stirring constantly until the paste dries out and forms a ball that cleans the sides of the pan.
  4. Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes. 
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated.
  6. Transfer paste to a large disposable pastry bag that has been fitted with a large star tip (I used Ateco #826).
  7. Pipe the paste into 3 or 4-inch lengths on a silpat lined sheet pan; dust with confectioner's sugar.
  8. Bake in 450F oven for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes more.  
  9. Remove from oven and allow to rest until they're cool enough to handle, then poke a couple of vent holes in the bottom and allow to cool completely.
  10. When completely cool, use a pastry bag fitted with a bismarck tip to fill pastry shells with vanilla pastry cream through the vent holes (my recipe can be found here); scrape away any excess pastry cream from the vent holes.  

TO MAKE THE GANACHE TOPPING:

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until it just begins to boil.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and rest for several minutes; whisk to combine fully and use immediately.

TO ASSEMBLE:

  1. Dip the top of each pastry cream filled shell in the ganache; turn right side up and place on a flattened out cupcake liner or on a serving platter.

adapted from pastry chef Bruno Albouze