Glistening Chocolate Eclairs

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on December 20, 2011

This dessert is near and dear to my heart…not only is it easy to make but also very versatile. There are both sweet and savory varieties that run the gamut of unique possibilities for the batter itself and the fillings to go with it. Some of the more traditional fillings used are the custard- like pastry cream you will often see or a sweet mousse or lightly sweetened whipped cream called Creme Chantilly. Recently I came across a sweet potato version that was also filled with a sweet potato filling, something I had never considered but am interested to try. Other options include savory versions, where just about anything goes. Use your favorite savory mousse, such as the more traditional salmon or liver, or fill your savory choux with a homemade tuna or chicken salad. If you have never tried the savory versions with herbs or sharp cheese, like my cheese gougeres, you really must – the possibilities are endless.

Some other ideas would be a lightly flavored chive puff with lemon scented cream cheese with sundried tomato, or a bacon cheddar puff filled with avocado and tomato confit, or how about a seafood filling with a tangy homemade mayo dressing, or even a bleu cheese mousse that can be complimented with a little apple compote for a delicious, well rounded bite.

They key is to have a really good choux paste recipe and to also utilize a good technique to make the puffs so that they all come out the same size and bake evenly.  The recipe I have provided is my own personal recipe which is tried and true and something I have been using for over 20 years. If you choose to make the savory version, reduce the amount of sugar to 1 teaspoon.

I chose to make a sweet variety since everyone loves chocolate dipped éclairs, but I have also made the cream puff version without the chocolate. When planning the dessert items that will eventually  grace your dessert platters, it’s nice to have an assortment of many different items, and some people just don’t like chocolate (gasp!)…so make sure you have some without.

I filled my éclairs with something called a Diplomat Cream. I used my recipe for vanilla pastry cream and combined it with a little slightly sweetened whipped cream for a really delicate flavor that just melts in your mouth. If you prefer to use the pastry cream as it is without the added whipped cream, you can definitely do that and it is just as yummy but not as fluffy.

So whether you make a sweet or a savory puff doesn’t matter…what matters is that you make them and taste for yourself how truly delicious they really are.

Chocolate Dipped Eclairs

1 recipe choux paste

Follow the directions provided to make the choux paste. Fill up your pastry bag and pipe out thick, finger sized eclairs onto a paper lined sheet tray. Bake at 400F for about 8-10 minutes until you see the eclairs puff up, then turn down the heat to 350F until golden brown and cooked through completely.

1 recipe pastry cream (you will use approximately half for this recipe)

Make the pastry cream the day before so that it has had time to cool and set up. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with powdered sugar to taste and then fold it into about 2 cups of pastry cream. Keep this refrigerated until the puffs have completely cooled. Once they have cooled, poke holes underneath the puff. Place a medium sized round tip in your pastry bag and fill  it with the prepared cream. Fill each puff with just the right amount of cream, if you overfill they will break apart. Once you have filled them, keep them upside down on the  sheet pan to help you when you begin the dipping process. Store these in the refrigerator until your ganache is ready.

Once all of the puffs have been filled, either make or heat up your ganache and gently dip each eclair into the chocolate. Chill them again and then add to your dessert platters.

Quick Chocolate Ganache 

1 cup heavy cream

2 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Heat the cream in the microwave until hot then add in the chocolate chips and stir until melted completely. If you need to heat it a little more, then just do it for short burst of time, about 15-20 seconds each time so the chocolate does not burn. Stir each time and then once the chips have melted, pass this through a sieve into a clean, dry bowl. Use right away if you are dipping the eclairs, or allow it to cool completely then cover and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar christo December 20, 2011 at 7:58 p

thanks for the mention – and your pate au choux eclairs look so perfect in their piped little rows – now I want one so bad with my morning coffee!

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet December 23, 2011 at 10:01 p

You’re very welcome, your recipe for the sweet potato choux and filling was very unique, so I wanted to share your site info with my readers because you are always so creative in your recipe development…and as far as my little eclairs go, I’ve had lots of practice lol!

avatar Jen January 9, 2012 at 10:07 p

Wow! What a great find! Thank you for sharing these recipes, I am very excited to try and make homemade eclairs. And not just any eclairs, GOOD eclairs!! I do have one question (so far), what size tip are you using when piping out the dough onto the baking sheet?

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet February 3, 2012 at 10:06 p

Thanks so much Jen! I have some old Ateco tips and the one I use is a number 9…but that number will change from one manufacturer to the next. I’m not sure what the Wilton number would be but the width of the tip is about 3/4″. The width basically dictates how thick you want your eclairs to be if you are making the finger sized ones like I did. Just make sure not to use anything too small because the batter is quite thick and the pressure may rupture your bag…hope that helps! xo

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet November 3, 2015 at 11:17 p

So glad you liked them Jen!

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