Classic French Chocolate Éclairs

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With light choux pastry filled with creamy crème pâtissière, this traditional éclair filling makes a spectacular afternoon tea treat. In case you get bored of the classic éclairs, you can start with the basic buns and fill them with trendy flavours and colourful glazes. Another well-liked version is the frozen éclair, which is coated with chocolate syrup and has ice cream within; I just discovered this recipe and can’t wait to try it out.

Eclairs on a tray topped with chocolate glaze and ground pistachio

Short history

In case you don’t know what these are, they’re long French pastries composed of choux pastry, filled with custard or pastry cream, and covered with fondant icing. The éclair was created in Lyon, France, in the nineteenth century, where it was first known as pain à la Duchesse or petite duchesse (‘little duchess’) until 1850. In the 1860s, the word first appears in both English and French.

Choux Pastry

A delicate pastry dough, pâte à choux is used in various pastries. Butter, water, wheat, and eggs are typically the only basic components. As the water in the dough evaporates when baked, puffing the crust, choux pastry uses its high moisture content to create steam in place of a raising agent.

In case you’re wondering what the actual term means, the name “choux pastry” comes from the way that the tiny choux paste balls used to produce cream puffs resemble little cabbages. The word “choux” in French means “cabbage.”- and yes, choux pastry does originate in France, going back centuries to 1540!

Tips and Tricks for making the perfect choux pastry

Choux pastry is a versatile and delicate pastry dough that can be used to make a variety of delicious treats, including éclairs, cream puffs, and profiteroles. Here are some tips and tricks for making the perfect choux pastry:

  1. Use a digital scale to measure the ingredients accurately. The ratios of flour, water, eggs, and butter are crucial for the texture of the choux pastry.
  2. Sift the flour before measuring it to ensure that it is light and fluffy. This will help prevent lumps in the dough.
  3. Use room temperature ingredients. This will allow the ingredients to blend together more smoothly, resulting in a more uniform dough.
  4. Bring the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil before adding the flour. This will create a hot and moist environment that will help the dough rise and develop a crisp exterior.
  5. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a ball. This step is important to develop the gluten and create a sturdy structure for the dough.
  6. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the dough gradually. This will help you control the consistency of the dough and prevent it from becoming too wet.
  7. The dough should have a shiny, elastic consistency when ready. Test it by lifting some of the dough with a wooden spoon or spatula. It should form a “V” shape without breaking.
  8. Pipe the dough using a pastry bag and tip onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave enough space between the dough to allow for expansion during baking.
  9. Preheat the oven and bake the choux pastry at a high temperature (around 425°F or 220°C) for the first 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375°F (190°C) for the remainder of the baking time. This will create a crisp exterior and a hollow interior.
  10. Do not open the oven door during baking to avoid any sudden changes in temperature that could cause the choux pastry to collapse.
  11. Once the choux pastry is done baking, pierce the bottom of each piece with a skewer or knife to allow the steam to escape. This will prevent the interior from becoming soggy.

By following these tips and tricks, you should be able to make the perfect choux pastry every time!

Choux fillings

Choux pastry is a versatile pastry dough that can be filled with a variety of sweet or savory fillings. Here are some popular options:

  1. Pastry cream: This is a classic filling for choux pastry. It is a thick custard made from milk, eggs, sugar, and cornstarch, flavored with vanilla or other flavors.
  2. Whipped cream: Light and fluffy, whipped cream is a simple and delicious filling for choux pastry. You can sweeten it with sugar and flavor it with vanilla or other extracts.
  3. Chocolate ganache: Rich and decadent, chocolate ganache is a popular filling for choux pastry. It is made by heating cream and pouring it over chopped chocolate, then stirring until smooth.
  4. Caramel: Caramel is a delicious filling for choux pastry. It can be made by cooking sugar until it melts and turns amber in color, then adding cream and butter to create a smooth sauce.
  5. Fruit compote: Fruit compote is a sweet filling made from cooked fruit and sugar. You can use any type of fruit, such as berries, peaches, or apples.
  6. Savory fillings: Choux pastry can also be filled with savory fillings, such as chicken or tuna salad, cheese, or herbed cream cheese.

Overall, the possibilities are endless when it comes to filling choux pastry!

Eclairs on a tray topped with chocolate glaze and ground pistachio

How To Make Classic French Chocolate Èclairs

Claudia
Light choux pastry filled with creamy crème pâtissière is the traditional eclair filling. For a spectacular afternoon tea treat, start with the basic buns and fill them with trendy flavours and colourful glazes.
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 18
Calories 0.2 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 small pot
  • 1 electric mixer
  • 3 piping bags disposable or reusable
  • 1 parchment paper
  • 1 baking pan
  • 1 small nozzle
  • 1 large nozzle

Ingredients
  

Crème Pâtissière

  • 500 g whole milk
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 40 g cornflour
  • 2 egg yolks from large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Or Vanilla Pudding make it according to the package

Choux Pastry

  • 150 g water
  • 80 g unsalted butter diced
  • 15 g caster sugar
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 120 g plain flour
  • 3 medium eggs

Assembly

  • 100 g chocolate any kind is just fine, depending on your preferences
  • 100 g double cream
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • ground pistachios

Instructions
 

Making the Choux Pastry

  • Add butter, water, salt and sugar in a small pan, bring it to boil and let it simmer until the butter is almost melted.
  • When it reached the boiling temperature, reduce the heat to minimum and add the flour. Mix using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until completely smooth and set aside to chill.
  • In the meantime preheat your oven at maximum temperature.
  • When the mixture is room temperature, add the eggs one by one. Use a hand mixer or a balloon whisk to incorporate the eggs. A smooth dough without lumps should form.
  • Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1.5 cm nozzle or to a disposable piping bag with a 1.5 cm cut off at the end.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pipe the logs, leaving 3-4 cm space between them. Continue until the batter is completely used up.
  • Reduce the oven heat to 230C and bake without ventilation for 15 minutes.
  • After this time, reduce the heat to 170C, turn on the ventilation and bake for another 20 minutes. During this whole time, the oven door should not be open at all.
  • In the second stage, if the logs seem too dark in color you can reduce the time.
  • They then need to be placed to cool down on a cooling rack until filled with cream.

Making the crème patisserie

  • Add all the ingredients in a pan and cook for 7-10 minutes on medium heat. The creme should be thick. Use a hand mixer to smooth it out, mixing it for a couple of seconds.
  • Add cling film on top and leave to cool completely.
  • After cooled, you can use the mixer for a few seconds so the filling becomes smooth again.

Making the chocolate ganache

  • Add all ingredients to a small pan, cook on medium heat, while stirring occasionally until smooth using a balloon whisk.

Assembly

  • Transfer the crème patisserie on a pippin bag.
  • Make small holes at the bottom side of the pastries and fill with crème patisserie.
  • Transfer the chocolate ganache into a piping bag and, using a small nozzle or cut at the end, pipe chocolate ganache on top of each pastry.
  • Decorate with ground pistachios and refrigerate for a few hours.
  • The result will be amazing, I assure you! Enjoy!

Video

Keyword eclairs

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My mom loved to make cream puffs and I miss making choux pastry! This is a great recipe and my eclairs were delicious!!

  2. 5 stars
    I love eclairs and can never seem to make to the bakery before they are sold out. Now I can make them whenever I want with your recipe.