How To Make Chocolate Eclairs

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Learn how to make chocolate eclairs in this step by step tutorial. Start making a pate a choux pastry, then fill with a pastry cream and dip them in chocolate ganache for an amazing French treat!
eclairs on a slate

So growing up, I remember the first time I tried an eclair. My relatives from Queens had to come to visit and they brought with them these fancy treats.

I was on my grandmother’s deck. Sun was shining. That first bite? It was like the heavens opened up.

Now if you don’t live somewhere close to buy eclairs, like oh say Paris or a fancy French cafe in NYC then you are going to want to make them at home. But you will be surprised at how easy these French pastries are to make.

To make these French chocolate eclairs, we need to start with making a pate a choux pastry. A pate a what? Pate a choux. Say it with me now. Pat a shoe. Which translates to cabbage (choux) paste (pate) because of the way the dough puffs up in the oven. Basically they look little cabbages if they are piped in rounds.

Where Do Chocolate Eclairs Originate From?

Well according to Craftsy, eclairs originated from the French pastry chef, Marie Antonin Careme at the beginning of the 19th century.

Apparently eclair is the French word for “lightning”and it’s because of the way it looks once dusted with confectioners sugar.

Ok history lesson over. Let’s make some chocolate eclairs!

To Make These Chocolate Eclairs You Will Need:

What Are The Ingredients For Choux Pastry?

It’s  simple dough made from flour, water, butter, and eggs.

There is no leavening agents involved here. So go put that baking soda and baking powder back in the cupboard. You won’t need it this time. Nope, no yeast either.

So what makes these little pastries puff up? Well when the liquid in the dough evaporates in the oven, it causes the pastries to puff up.

The pastry dough is a thick enough batter that you can pipe it into shapes. In this case, we are going to pipe the pastry into the eclair shape.

But this pate a choux pastry you can use not just to make eclairs, but cream puffs (profiteroles), a croquembouche (basically a giant cream puff tower), gougeres (cheesy cream puffs).

three eclairs stacked on top of each other

How Do You Make Chocolate Eclairs? 

You can watch this video to learn how to make choux pastry and I also have step by step photos below for you as well!

 

Making chocolate eclairs is actually quite easy. It’s a few simple ingredients.

Step 1: Cut your butter into tablespoons or small chunks and add to a saucepan with 1 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar and bring to a simmer over high heat. Bonus: No need to stir during this!

butter and water in a saucepan

Step 2: Turn down the heat to a medium, and add all your flour.

flour poured into a saucepan of butter and water

Step 3: With a wooden spoon, stir for 3 minutes or until it forms a cohesive mass that pulls away from the sides of the pan. The flour should leave this film on the sides of the pan.

choux pastry dough in a pot with a wooden spoon

Step 4: With a wooden spoon, stir for 3 minutes or until it forms a cohesive mass that pulls away from the sides of the pan. The flour should leave this film on the sides of the pan.

digital thermometer inserted into choux pastry in a pot

Step 5: Beat in your eggs 1 at a time until you have added 4. Keep in mind, 4 is the recommended number but keep an eye on the consistency as the  number of eggs depends on the type of flour used. For me, it was exactly 4 eggs.

egg added to choux pastry in a pot

How To Check The Consistency Of Your Choux Pastry?

To determine if the consistency of the batter is correct and you have added enough eggs, look for one of these three things.

#1:  You have added enough eggs when you drag a spoon through the mixture and the groove left behind slowly folds in on itself as shown in the second picture.

wooden spoon dragged through choux pastry

#2: Pull the wooden spoon up out of the dough. The dough should droop off the spoon and not stick straight out.

wooden spoon dipped into choux pastry

#3: If using a stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the paddle attachment in a thick rope.

stand mixer paddle attachment with choux pastry on it

What Size Tip To Use For Eclairs?

Transfer the cooled mixture to a piping fit with either a plain circle tip or a french star tip to pipe your eclairs. You want a tip that is a 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) in diameter.

The french star tip is actually recommended because it increases the surface area for your eclairs and helps in preventing eclairs from cracking as they expand. 

To make sure you have nice even straight lines that you are piping, on your parchment paper draw your straight lines with a pencil, pen or sharpie first. Just be sure to flip your parchment paper over after!

5-inch lines drawn on parchment paper

For regular/large sized eclairs- draw 5-inch lines

For mini eclairs (which is what I made): draw 2 – 2 1/2 inch lines.

Pro Tip: After piping, give them a quick spray of non-stick cooking spray. 

Once piped, you can go ahead and bake them.

How Long Does It Take To Make An Eclair? 

When you are ready to bake them, bake them in a pre-heated oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300°F and bake them for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

My second batch took less time, so that is why I am giving you the range. And each oven is different, so just keep an eye on them!

How To Fill Your Chocolate Eclairs:

You can fill your homemade eclairs a few different ways.

The easiest way would be to simply cut them in half and spoon the filling in and then place the top on. Basically an eclair sandwich. If you’re new to making eclairs, this might the option to go with.

If you want to fill the inside of them you can use a piping bag filled with a small round tip like this one and poke a hole on one end and fill until you see the filling start to come out the end you’re filling. I used a small long tip like this one and it works great!

Another way is to poke three holes in the bottom using a toothpick. Then begin filling your eclairs on the left side first and when you see the filling come out the center stop. And repeat on the right side the same way.

The best way might be a trick I picked up from Barbara over at Barbara Bakes. She suggests you poke a couple holes in the top of the eclairs. Let gravity do its thing. If you’re covering up the tops anyways with a ganache or some other fun toppings, then no worries about people seeing the holes.  No messy filling oozing out the sides and bottoms. Um can you say genius?

What do  you fill eclairs with? 

Oh the possibilities. Of course stabilized whipped cream works great. You could also fill the eclairs with pastry cream. I have a step by step tutorial to make your own pastry cream you can check out here.

You could also try flavoring your whipped cream or pastry cream as well.

You might want to try lightening your pastry cream as well with a 1/2 cup of whipped cream. Just be careful, because this can cause your pastry cream to become too soft and difficult to pipe with. If you want to try this, I would cut them in half and then fill them with the whipped cream/pastry cream mixture right before serving.

Once they are filled, I then want to top them with some homemade ganache.  I used a traditional ganache ratio of equal parts heavy cream and chocolate. Ganache is simple to make! Just heat 1/2 cup heavy cream in a saucepan or microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute until hot, but not boiling.

Then pour the cream over 4 ounces chopped chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes then stir until smooth. That’s it! You of course can keep it simple and dust some powdered sugar over them as well.

Pro Tip: Homemade eclairs are best served soon after filling them otherwise they tend to get soggy. 

eclair cut in half

Tips For Making Chocolate Eclairs

  • Cut your butter into tablespoons for step 1 so they mixture comes together quickly.
  • Measure your flour accurately so you don’t add too much or too little. Learn how to measure your flour here.  For best accuracy, use a kitchen scale.
  • Check the consistency of the batter after each egg is added. Four eggs is only a recommendation and will depend on the flour used, so check the batter so you don’t add too many.
  • The french star tip is actually recommended because it increases the surface area for your eclairs and helps in preventing eclairs from cracking as they expand.
  • Spray the eclairs with non-stick cooking spray before baking.
  • Fill the eclairs only right before serving.

So I may not live in Paris or have a French bistro down the street. But at least I can make my own homemade chocolate eclairs now at home. I hope this tutorial has give you the confidence to try them yourself at home!

If you love this recipe and tutorial then be sure to leave me a comment and star rating below! And as always, happy baking!

 

homemade eclairs

Chocolate Eclairs Recipe

 A french chocolate eclairs recipe that are easy to make!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 12 large or 24 mini
Calories: 294kcal

Ingredients

For the pate a choux dough:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup flour sifted
  • 4 eggs

For the pastry cream:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the ganache:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Combine the water, salt, butter, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. There's no need to stir.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture forms a cohesive mass and pulls away from the sides of the pans, leaving a film of flour on the sides of pan.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl or a stand mixer and beat it with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment for about 1 minute or until slightly cooled.
  • Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until you've added 4. Check the consistency of the batter by pulling a wooden spoon through it. When the groove it makes slowly in on itself, you've added enough eggs. Another way to check is to see if the batter droops from the spoon when it is held sideways. If so it is ready. Add more egg whites as needed until the batter passes away the groove test. While the dough is best used right away, it will keep for several hours in the refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 400F. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip or french star tip and fill it with the dough. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. If using paper, pipe a small amount of dough underneath the paper in the four corners to hold it down.
    For regular/large sized eclairs- draw 5-inch lines
    For mini eclairs (which is what I made): draw 2 - 2 1/2 inch lines.
  • Make 2 rows of 3 eclairs each (if making minis I fit 3 rows). Pipe the eclairs onto the baking sheet. Give the eclairs a quick spray of cooking spray.
  • Bake the eclairs for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Turn down the oven to 300F and continue baking for 10-15 minutes more. When removing from the oven, poke a hole in the bottom of each to release steam with a toothpick. Let cool for at least 20 minutes on a cake rack.
  • Prepare the whipped cream by placing the heavy cream into a bowl of a stand mixer. Combine with the sugar and vanilla extract and whip to soft peaks. Use a serrated knife, cut each cream puff open horizontally. Pipe the whipped cream or scoop with an ice-cream scoop the whipped cream into the middle and top with sliced strawberries. Top with additional powdered sugar if you choose and I think you should!
  • For the pastry cream: Whisk egg yolks until smooth in a large bowl. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium. Stirring constantly, gradually add milk in a slow, steady stream, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
  • Whisking constantly, slowly pour one third of the milk mixture into egg yolks (this step is called tempering, which keeps the yolks from curdling). Pour mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil and is thick enough to hold its shape when lifted with a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  • Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days). When ready to use, fill a piping bag with a small round tip. Poke holes with a toothpick into the center (you can poke holes into the sides, bottom or top of the eclair. If you poke holes in the top, you are less likely to have filling ooze out). Then pipe the pastry cream into the holes. Stop piping when you see the cream start to come out the holes.
  • For the ganache:  In a heavy saucepan, boil heavy cream (You can also heat the heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl). Turn off the heat. Add chopped chocolate pieces and let it rest until melted. Use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture until all the pieces are melted. Dip the top of eclairs into the ganache. Or drizzle over each eclair. 

Notes

  • Cut your butter into tablespoons for step 1 so they mixture comes together quickly.
  • Measure your flour accurately so you don't add too much or too little. Learn how to measure your flour here.  For best accuracy, use a kitchen scale. 
  • Check the consistency of the batter after each egg is added. Four eggs is only a recommendation and will depend on the flour used, so check the batter so you don't add too many. 
  • The french star tip is actually recommended because it increases the surface area for your eclairs and helps in preventing eclairs from cracking as they expand. 
  • Spray the eclairs with non-stick cooking spray before baking.
  • Fill the eclairs only right before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 153mg | Sodium: 169mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g
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2 Comments

    1. Aww thank you Ana! That means so much! Glad you love the recipe and the blog 🙂

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