The Eclair Cake Recipe I Need to Make on Repeat

Why It Works

  • Swapping immediate pudding for an ethereal combination of whipped cream and vanilla bean-infused pastry cream leads to a extra complex-tasting filling.
  • Coating the highest of the éclair cake with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache as a substitute of ready-made frosting balances the dessert with a pleasing bittersweetness. 
  • We offer you two choices: The primary is the less complicated, basic no-bake éclair cake with graham crackers. The opposite is a real larger-format éclair full with crème mousseline, a choux pastry ring, and chocolate glaze.

If I may eat an éclair on daily basis, I’d be a really joyful lady. Sadly, I don’t stay in France, nor I’m not situated close to a French bakery—and I most actually do not need the time or vitality to make éclairs incessantly at house. I reserve éclairs for particular events, and even then it’s arduous to persuade myself it’s value piping, baking, filling, and glazing a whole tray of little fingers of choux pastry. The excellent news is that there are two other ways of creating large-format éclair desserts that evoke the unique with out prompting your carpal tunnel to flare up.

Critical Eats / Jen Causey

The right way to Make a Traditional Éclair Cake

A basic éclair is a refined confection of golden choux stuffed with pastry cream and glazed with chocolate, however the factor most individuals consider once they hear “éclair cake” is decidedly much less formal: An icebox cake through which graham crackers are layered with boxed pudding combine, refrigerated till softened, then topped with store-bought chocolate frosting.

That is all nicely and good, and we recognize a simple dessert that may feed a crowd whereas requiring actually no funding of time or ability to whip collectively. However when you want a recipe to elucidate the right way to fill a baking dish with boxed pudding, boxed crackers, and boxed frosting, then we have a very nice recipe for boiling water to indicate you subsequent! No, that is Critical Eats, so we’re not gonna try this. We’re gonna be simply a bit of extra bold—simply sufficient to rework one thing extraordinarily ho-hum into one thing nonetheless comparatively straightforward however considerably extra scrumptious.

Critical Eats / Jen Causey

As an alternative of immediate pudding, we’re utilizing an ethereal combination of whipped cream and vanilla-bean infused pastry cream. To sound fancy, we may use the French phrases “crème pâtissière” for the pastry cream and “crème légère” for the combination of the pastry cream with the whipped cream, however within the spirit of this shamelessly Americanized dessert, we’ll keep on with the English right here, thanks very a lot, mon frère.

For many who got here right here anticipating boxed pudding combine, do not run away simply but! We promise, pastry cream might sound just like the form of factor that requires a culinary faculty diploma to make, but it surely’s so easy, and so, so significantly better. You are able to do it, and now’s the time.

Critical Eats / Jen Causey

As for the chocolate, we skip the ready-made frosting and go for a easy semi-sweet ganache as a substitute, which brings a pleasing bitterness that balances the dessert. “Ganache” is one other phrase that will ship some operating to the closest aisle of Betty Crocker (no hate, no hate), however please keep. In the event you can warmth butter and cream and pour it over darkish chocolate, you may make ganache. (The truth is, when you try this, you should have, by definition, made ganache. It is easy, I promise.)

The graham crackers stay the graham crackers: We get it, the good ease of this recipe is that there is not any baking concerned, and we’re staying true to that.

The right way to Make What Is, Primarily, a Large Éclair

Okay, however that is Critical Eats, and you do not suppose we’re simply gonna pump out a barely jazzed-up recipe for an éclair cake and name it a day, did you? It is known as an éclair cake, and final we checked, the defining aspect of an éclair is that it is comprised of choux pastry. So we requested a easy query: Can we super-size it?

And sure, sure we are able to. That is the show-stopper model, and it’s designed to impress.

Taking our inspiration from the basic Paris-Brest, through which choux is baked in a big ring after which stuffed with praline cream, this model fills the ring with vanilla crème mousseline and is then topped with a shiny chocolate glaze.

Critical Eats / Jen Causey

This model of the recipe is, with out query, extra sophisticated. However let’s take a look at the info: First, it is nonetheless simpler than making conventional éclairs, since one massive choux pastry ring is less complicated to pipe and bake than many particular person choux fingers. Second, we have already made the choux a part of the method simpler for you with the assistance of science. As an alternative of the imprecise directions in most recipes, we use exact temperatures which you can simply measure with a thermometer for good choux each time, no guesswork concerned.

As with the American éclair cake recipe described above, pastry cream as soon as once more has a starring function right here, this time within the type of crème mousseline, or what I wish to name fancy buttercream: As an alternative of beating butter with powdered sugar to make buttercream, we beat pastry cream into the butter. Whipped till gentle and fluffy, the filling’s velvety texture enhances the crisp, ethereal choux.

Critical Eats / Jen Causey

Final however not least, there’s a simple chocolate glaze of butter, corn syrup, and semi-sweet chocolate that comes collectively in a single bowl with the assistance of the microwave. The dessert tastes identical to an éclair, besides you possibly can lower it in huge, hulking slices to serve to mates or, let’s be trustworthy, maintain all of it to your self as a result of that is the actual spirit of an Americanized dessert: Making it huge after which consuming an excessive amount of.

Regardless of which model you resolve to make, the vital factor to recollect is: There’s a confection for each event, even when the event is sitting in your sofa alone with a large éclair cake.

Editor’s Observe

This recipe was developed by Melissa Grey; the headnote was written by Genevieve Yam.

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