Classic Eclairs Recipe

An éclair is one of the most popular French desserts out there. This sweet treat is similar to a Boston cream doughnut in the sense that it's a pastry filled with custard and topped with a delicious glaze (which is chocolate in this case). If you're looking for a fancier spin on the average doughnut, then the éclair should be right up your alley. 

Recipe developer Eric Ngo came up with this recipe for classic éclairs that tastes better than the stuff you'd purchase at a bakery. "I like how versatile this recipe is. Once you master the basic pâte à choux and pastry cream recipe, you can easily change the shape and flavor of this dessert," he shares. "For example, you can also make cream puffs, cheese puffs, [or] cut the éclairs opens and add a fruit filling. Ngo suggests adding various decorations as well.

Ngo explains the skill level it takes to make this all-time favorite, "This is an intermediate-advanced level type of recipe." It requires "... certain steps [that] must be respected in order to achieve the right consistency [and] texture of the dough, and that piping the perfect shapes takes practice." But practice makes perfect, right? 

Keep reading to find out how to make these classic éclairs.

Gather the ingredients for classic éclairs

Every recipe starts with a trip to the grocery store. For this one, you will need white sugar, cornstarch, eggs, water, milk, a vanilla bean or vanilla extract, heavy whipping cream, unsalted butter, salt, flour, and dark chocolate chunks.

Once you have the ingredients ready, you can make these classic chocolate éclairs.

Make the vanilla cream

The first part of the prep work is to mix up the vanilla cream that goes inside the éclairs. Grab a small or medium bowl, add the sugar and cornstarch, and then whisk well to combine. Add one egg to the bowl and continue whisking until smooth.

Mix the milk and temper the eggs

The next element of the vanilla cream requires tempering the egg mixture. Adding just a portion of the hot milk heats the egg slowly and prevents a scrambled egg (via MasterClass), which is never fun with pastries.

Begin by adding the milk to a saucepan. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds or pour the vanilla extract into the milk. Place the pan on your stove, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once you see bubbles reach the surface, pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture bowl and stir it for 10 seconds. Then, pour the tempered egg back into the saucepan of milk and continue heating until it starts to boil again.

Chill the custard

Take out a large plate and pour the hot custard over it. Cover the plate with plastic wrap, pop it in the fridge, and let it sit there until it gets nice and cold.

In the meantime, whip ½ cup of the heavy cream until it gets stiff. Once the vanilla cream is cool, remove it from the fridge and combine it with the heavy cream.

Make the pâte à choux

Now, you can make the pâte à choux, which is the French pastry dough that makes éclairs great. All you need to do is grab a medium-sized pan and add the water, unsalted butter, and salt. Place the saucepan on your stove and turn the heat to low. Continue heating the mixture until the butter starts to melt.

Once it has melted, turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Once you see the water rising, add the flour and mix with a wooden spatula until the mixture achieves what Ngo describes as a "mashed potatoes" consistency.

Finish making the pâte à choux

Now that the mixture looks like mashed potatoes, you can reduce the heat to medium. Continue mixing for a minute, and then turn off the heat.

In a different bowl, mix the three remaining eggs with a fork. Then, slowly add the egg mixture to the potato-like dough, about half at a time. Once you add the first half, give it a good mix, and when the eggs a fully incorporated, go ahead and add the rest.

You can move to the next step when the dough gets smooth and shiny.

Pipe and bake the éclairs

Preheat the oven to 350 F and take out a nonstick baking tray or silicone mat to pipe the éclairs. Be sure to use a #15 round piping tip on your pastry bag. "Squeeze with your dominate hand while providing stability with your other hand, and sync your pressure with how fast you pull back," Ngo explains. "Pulling back too quickly will result in very skinny éclairs, and pulling back too slowly will result in fat éclairs." 

Then, pop the pastries in the hot oven for 35 minutes, and resist opening the range while the éclairs bake. "Be careful not to underbake these. If you do, the éclairs will be very fragile when you try to fill and glaze them," Ngo notes. "The éclairs should be crispy on their way out of the oven." 

Once finished, transfer the éclairs to a baking rack to cool completely.

Make the chocolate glaze

We're in the home stretch! To make the chocolate glaze, begin by melting the dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Add the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then, combine the melted chocolate and warm cream, and continue mixing until smooth.

Now, the chocolate glaze is good to go.

Fill and glaze the éclairs

To fill the éclairs with that delicious vanilla cream, poke a couple of small holes on the underside of each of the éclair. Fill your clean piping bag with the vanilla cream, and pipe slowly it into the holes. Then, add the chocolate glaze to the top. "The chocolate glaze for this recipe is considered a ganache," Ngo shares. "To glaze, place the warm ganache in a narrow container and dip the filled éclairs halfway in, set aside [for] the glaze to settle." 

Serve and enjoy

You can either serve these éclairs immediately or pop them in the fridge for a little while until the glaze gets nice and firm. "Éclairs are a good option for an afternoon or evening dessert," Ngo suggests. "They are perfectly fine on their own, as they are often eaten on the go." Yum! 

We're not sure if you will have any leftovers, but if you do, store them in the fridge. They should last for two days.

Classic Eclairs Recipe
4.9 from 12 ratings
Chocolate eclairs are a classic French pastry filled with delicious vanilla cream. Learn how to make eclairs from scratch with this step-by-step recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
classic éclairs on tray
Total time: 3 hours
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks, melted
  1. To prepare the vanilla cream, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Add 1 egg to the mixture, and whisk until smooth.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla. Temper the egg mixture by adding half of the hot milk to the egg mixture while stirring continuously for 10 seconds. Add the tempered egg mixture back into the pan with the other half of the milk, and stir until it reaches the boiling point.
  3. Pour the hot custard onto a large plate, and cover it with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until cold. Whip ½ cup of heavy cream until stiff, and mix it with the cool vanilla cream until smooth.
  4. To prepare pâte à choux, add the water, unsalted butter, and salt to a medium-sized pan and cook on low heat until the butter is melted. Turn the heat to high until it reaches a rolling boil.
  5. As soon as the water starts to rise, turn off the heat, add the flour all at once, and start to mix with a wooden spatula. The finished texture will eventually look like mashed potatoes.
  6. Once the "mashed potato" texture is reached, turn the heat back to medium, and continue mixing for 1 minute. Then, turn off the heat.
  7. Crack 3 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with a fork. Slowly add the eggs to the "mashed potato" mixture in two steps to avoid mixing it too long: Add half of the eggs at a time and mix until the eggs disappear into the dough. Repeat the same steps until all of the eggs are incorporated. The dough is ready when it is smooth and shiny.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 F and pipe éclairs onto a nonstick baking tray or silicone mat using a round size 15 piping tip.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes, making sure not to open the oven during the baking time. Once baked, allow the éclairs to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  10. To prepare the chocolate glaze, bring ½ cup heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the melted chocolate. Mix until smooth.
  11. Make two small holes on the bottom of each éclair and use a piping bag to fill them with vanilla cream.
  12. Top the filled éclairs with chocolate by dipping them halfway into a bowl filled with the glaze.
  13. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until the glaze is firm. Éclairs should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Calories per Serving 254
Total Fat 18.1 g
Saturated Fat 10.6 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 121.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.7 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 8.1 g
Sodium 108.5 mg
Protein 5.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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