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Chocolate Eclairs....easier than you think

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If you've ever had the good fortune of going into a pastry shop, you've seen pastries that are well-known far and wide. There are many sweets that are very intricately made and appear to take a terribly long time to make. It's also fun to watch these treats being made, as we see skilled pastry chefs execute their expertise in these beautiful and tasty sweet treats.

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You may have found yourself wishing you could make something like what you see in pastry shops in your own kitchen, but feel that they are too involved and time-consuming to make. But, let's change that thought! Let's look at a pastry that many people enjoy and that's "Chocolate Eclairs". As beautiful as they appear, you'd think they'd be very complicated and even expensive to make. However, let's put that negative thought to rest! I'll show you just how easy they are to do!

First, you make the pastry shells. This is a basic "Puff Paste" recipe and isn't hard to make at all. You even mix this in a saucepan! You begin by boiling water with butter and salt. Flour is now added and mixed to form thick paste. Eggs are added to form a paste that's workable. The eggs not only give an added richness, but enables the pastry shells to rise and puff beautifully. The paste is formed into logs on a baking sheet and they are now baked.

Meanwhile, the "Vanilla Pastry Cream" can be made and it's much like a thick vanilla pudding. It's even made like pudding, in that you combine sugar, flour and salt in a saucepan. Milk is added and cooked until thick. Egg yolks are added and you continue cooking the mixture. Then, butter and vanilla extract are added. The pastry cream should be cold when placing it in the pastry shells, so you can even make this ahead of the pastry shells so it'll be completely chilled and ready for you when the shells are.

Finally, a luscious chocolate glaze, easily made with semi-sweet chocolate, butter, confectioner's sugar and milk. The chocolate and butter are melted, then the sugar and milk go in to make a medium-thick glaze. Drizzle this over the eclairs and refrigerate them for about three hours. There you have it..... professional-looking pastries you made yourself and at a more economical cost over purchasing them ready-made!

Sometime ago, I shared a recipe for a "Fanned Coffeecake", which looks involved in the making, but it's quite easy, too. To get this recipe, follow this link:

http://www.examiner.com/article/coffeecake-that-s-decorative-and-divine

Follow this recipe and create this famous pastry known everywhere....in your very own kitchen!

CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Pastry Shells:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment or grease lightly. In a medium saucepan, heat the water, salt and butter until butter melts and mixture boils. Reduce heat to low and with a wooden spoon, add the flour, stirring vigorously. Stir until mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool for about two minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, beating until mixture is smooth and uniform. Drop paste by 1/4 cupfuls onto prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. With a small spatula, shape each mound into a log measuring 5 inches long and 3/4 inch inch wide, rounding the edges. Bake for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut a slit in the side of each shell and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool the shells on a wire rack.

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Add some of the mixture to the egg yolks. Beat together and return to the saucepan. Continue cooking until mixture thickens again. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and let cool. When cool, stir in the vanilla extract. Cover cream with a sheet of plastic wrap and chill well.

Slice about 1/3 from the top of each pastry shell and fill the bottom of the shells with the pastry cream. Replace the tops and spread with Chocolate Glaze. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: about 12 eclairs.

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring constantly until melted. Add the confectioner's sugar and milk, stirring until smooth.

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