This Chocolate Eclair Dessert Recipe makes it easy to create one of the most delicious French pastries in the world any time you like.
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
- 1½ tsp unflavored gelatin
- 3 tsp cold water
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
FOR THE ECLAIR PASTRY SHELLS (CHOUX PASTRY):
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 oz) butter
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
- 4 large eggs
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM:
- In a small dish, stir the gelatin and water together to combine. There should be just enough water to moisten the gelatin, creating a thick paste. Set aside.
- Add milk, sugar, salt, egg yolks and cornstarch to a 4-quart or larger heavy bottomed saucepan and whisk vigorously to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, at which point the mixture will have thickened to the point that the whisk will leave tracks as you stir. Boil for 30 seconds then remove from the heat and whisk for 30 seconds longer. Pour into a bowl.
- Whisk in vanilla. Break the gelatin into small pieces, dropping them into the hot pastry cream. Whisk until the gelatin is completely incorporated, about 20 seconds. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap over the surface of the pastry cream, and punch a few holes in the surface of the wrap with a sharp knife. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
MAKE THE ECLAIR PASTRY SHELLS (CHOUX PASTRY):
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit a pastry bag with a 1-inch round or star tip – or simply cut hole that’s approximately 1-inch in diameter in the tip of a pastry bag. Set the bag, tip side down, inside a tall drinking glass, fold the top down a couple of inches, and set aside.
- Add the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a medium size, heavy bottom saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil with bubbles covering the entire surface. Boil rapidly for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add the flour and vital wheat gluten all at once to the boiling liquid. Stir the flour and liquid vigorously with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to form a dough. Cook – continuing to sir vigorously – for 5-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and a thin floury film has formed across the bottom of the pan.
- Dump the dough into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and stir on low speed for 5 minutes to allow the dough to cool before adding the eggs. Turn the mixer to medium-high and add the eggs one at a time, scrapping down the sides of the bowl after beating in each egg. After each egg is added, beat at medium-high speed until completely incorporated before adding the next. After three eggs, check the consistency of the dough: Stop the mixer and lift the beater from the dough. The dough should form a peak that slowly folds in on itself. If the dough seems too stiff, go on and add the 4th egg – or half of the 4th egg.
- Spoon the dough into the pastry bag and pipe 8 bratwurst size “logs” (approximately 5-6 inches long and 2 – 2 1/2 inches wide) onto the parchment covered baking sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using a sharp paring knife, cut a small slit in the sides of the pastry shells to release steam. Turn the oven off and return the pastry shells to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pastry from the oven and place the shells directly on a wire rack to cool completely.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
- Add the semi-sweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, butter, salt, and corn syrup to a medium size saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and chocolate are melted and the glaze is smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature before using.
ASSEMBLE THE CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS:
- Using a sharp paring knife, widen the incision in the sides of the pastry shells to stretch the length of the pastry.
- Fill a pastry bag with pastry cream, cut off the tip of the bag and fill each pastry shell with pastry cream.
- Using a knife or spoon, gently spread the tops with chocolate glaze. Decorate with a dollop of pastry cream, if desired.
- Place the chocolate eclairs in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to set the chocolate glaze. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.