Chocolate Éclairs

How to make Chocolate Éclairs with a chocolate pastry cream filling at home from scratch. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

chocolate eclairs with chocolate ganache on wire rack

Chocolate Éclairs

You may or may not have noticed from my photos on Facebook and Instagram that I have a weakness for éclairs. Chocolate éclairs filled with chocolate cream are my favourite and, oddly enough, my son loves the coffee-flavoured ones!

Being able to indulge in éclairs from the wonderful pâtisseries in Zurich, it never occurred to me that I should make my own éclairs at home.

But as I make choux pastry quite frequently at home, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to go one step further and make some éclairs for afternoon tea.


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How to Make Éclairs

Making éclairs requires three components:

  1. Choux pastry for the profiteroles
  2. Pastry cream (crème pâtissière or vanilla custard) for the filling
  3. Chocolate ganache for drizzling over the profiteroles

You should start by making the crème patissière for the filling which needs time to cool down and chill, and you can get a head start by making this the day before.

The chocolate ganache for the coating takes mere minutes to make once you are ready to assemble the éclairs.

chocolate pastry cream or chocolate creme patissiere in white bowl

What is Choux Pastry?

Choux pastry is generally quite easy to make, and even easier if you use a food processor or standmixer to do the hard work for you. In fact, I recommend using the latter to save yourself from a heavy duty upper-body workout.

I have had the benefit of learning to make choux pastry when I studied home economics in high school, but I imagine that if this is your first foray into choux pastry, you might need some tips and tricks to help you along the way.

How to Make Choux Pastry

For detailed instructions on how to make choux pastry (pâte à choux), please see my recipe with step-by-step photos.

How to Make Pastry Cream

For detailed instructions on how to make pastry cream (also called crème pâtissière or vanilla custard), please see my recipe with step-by-step photos.

chocolate eclairs on wire rack

More Choux Pastry Recipes

For other choux pastry recipes, you might like:

Chouquettes (French Pastry Puffs)

Chocolate Chip Chouquettes

Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce

chocolate eclairs with plate of chocolate ganache in background

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Chocolate Éclairs

5 from 2 reviews

How to make Chocolate Éclairs with a chocolate pastry cream filling at home from scratch. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

  • Author: eatlittlebird.com
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Makes 12-16 éclairs 1x
  • Category: Cakes
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

For the Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière or Vanilla Custard)

For the Choux Pastry Buns (Éclairs)

  • 350 ml (1 ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon) water
  • 150 g (1 ⅓ stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 200 g (1 ⅓ cup) plain flour
  • 4 large eggs

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • 75ml (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) double cream
  • 150g (5 1/2 oz) dark chocolate, chopped

Instructions

For the Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière or Vanilla Custard)
(Please see my post on How to Make Crème Pâtissière for step-by-step photos and cooking tips)

  1. Pour the milk and cream into a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Warm the mixture until it just starts to simmer.
  4. In a large bowl or jug, beat together the egg yolks and sugar, and then whisk in the flour.
  5. Slowly pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture (not the other way around or else you will have scrambled eggs), whisking as you do so until the custard is smooth.
  6. Pour this mixture into a clean saucepan and whisk gently over medium heat until the custard thickens. This should take only a few minutes.
  7. Continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes to allow the mixture to release a few bubbles.
  8. Pour the custard into a bowl and set aside to cool.
  9. I recommend covering the bowl with a layer of clingfilm pressed against the custard to stop a skin from forming.

For the Choux Pastry Buns (Éclairs)
(Please see my post on How to Make Choux Pastry for step-by-step photos and baking tips)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F) (without fan).
  2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place the water, butter and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter has melted and the water just begins to boil.
  4. Take the pan off the heat.
  5. Add the flour.
  6. Beat everything together with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a dough and comes away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Tip the dough into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  8. Using the flat paddle attachment, beat the mixture for a few seconds to knock out the air and to cool the dough a little.
  9. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and, with the mixer on, add one egg at a time and beat until the mixture is thick and smooth. The consistency should be such that it should hold its shape once piped into a ball.
  10. Fit a 2 cm (1 inch) plain nozzle into a piping bag and pipe little rounds onto the baking tray about 5 cm apart.
  11. Fill a small cup with water to use to wet your fingertips and press down any pointy tips on the rounds of dough.
  12. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until it is a pale, golden colour.
  13. To check if the choux pastry buns are cooked, they should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  14. Remove to a cooling rack and pierce the underside of each choux pastry bun with a pin or cake skewer to let the steam out and to prevent them from becoming soggy.

For the Chocolate Ganache

  1. Simply melt the cream and chocolate together in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Whisk the mixture together until it is thick and smooth.
  3. The chocolate sauce should be served warm.
  4. The sauce will thicken as it cools but it reheats easily.
  5. If the sauce separates upon reheating, give it a good whisk.

To Assemble the Chocolate Éclairs

  1. Fit a piping bag with a small plain nozzle and fill it with the custard.
  2. If there are no openings at both ends of the choux pastry buns, simply use the tip of a small knife or chopstick to create an opening large enough for the nozzle.
  3. Fill the choux pastry buns by inserting the nozzle into the openings. If you are making large éclairs, it is best to fill them with a bit of custard from both ends. If you are making small éclairs, it is usually fine to fill them from just one end.
  4. The choux pastry buns are quite hollow inside and will fill easily with the custard, but be careful not to overfill them.
  5. Dip the top of each éclair into the chocolate ganache to coat and allow to set.

Kitchen Notes

To make a chocolate crème pâtissière, omit the vanilla but add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and 20g (3/4 oz) finely grated chocolate.

You can make the éclairs as big or as small as you wish, but adjust the baking time accordingly. Make sure you bake them for long enough until they are golden and crispy, otherwise they may be uncooked on the inside and deflate if you take them out of the oven too soon.

If the chocolate ganache splits, try to quickly whisk the mixture to emulsify it again. If this does not work, heat a small amount of double cream in a small saucepan, and whisk this into the chocolate ganache.

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: Nutritional info per éclair
  • Calories: 145
  • Sugar: 6.5g
  • Sodium: 34.5mg
  • Fat: 8.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.3g
  • Fiber: 0.8g
  • Protein: 3.5g
  • Cholesterol: 63.3mg

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32 comments

  1. Vickie 12 March 2014

    yum – I’m yet to attempt making choux pastry, but looking at these makes me feel like I should 🙂

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 12 March 2014

      Making choux pastry can sound daunting but it should be fairly straightforward. Hopefully Nigella’s recipe will work perfectly for you as it has always done for me 🙂

      Reply
  2. How frustrating at having so many failed attempts. It’s disappointed when that happens, not only because of the time, but also the wasted ingredients. You’re eclairs are perfect though Thanh 😀 I clearly need to work on my piping skills as mine look very “rustic” in comparison. I also never chill mine before piping. I’ll have to try that.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 12 March 2014

      Your éclairs look lovely!! I actually prefer the more rustic look when homemade. Chilling the choux pastry makes it firmer and easier to pipe, so the end result should look quite like how you had piped it. Perhaps this was something useful for me to take away from Ruth Clemens’ recipe 🙂

      But yes, many eggs were sacrificed in this kitchen experiment! Not all recipes work out perfectly for me and I also always think of the wasted ingredients. But I guess you never know until you try.

      Reply
  3. Paula 12 March 2014

    I love it!! And I love homemade choux. Because at restaurants, even in good ones, they serve sometimes horrible profitroles.

    And ook, I’m clumsy, however, even if you don’t believe me, I’m great with choux. It’s easy, but even with that, I felt in heaven when I checked I could prepare something so… delicate? You thing is delicate before you make.
    The truth is that, as I’m bad with pastry bag, I only can make profiteroles with an ice cream spoon, but if my boyf it’s at home, he can form éclairs, that I love on a Sunday afternoon (remember childhood!!).

    I love so glossy ganache, love the photos. I’m hungry now!! 😛

    PD: Now you’ll say, and why are you telling me this? But I die if I don’t say you that we have found a lovely home in Interlaken area. If it’s half of what seems, I will recommend tu you, can you imagine??
    PPD: I’m not anything beside that book, but, you allow me some advice? Choux pastry made with cocoa powder, and then a passion fruit curd filling. And lavender pastry cream with white chocolate and orange ganache it’s also great.
    PPPD: I’m sorry, I’m boring you (again) and there are millions of combinations to die, so I’m not telling you anything new.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 12 March 2014

      My husband loves to make gougères (also made from choux pastry) and he usually just uses a spoon to make big dollops of dough on the baking tray. But after watching an episode of Top Chef some time ago, I suggested that he use a piping bag to make mini gougères, which he did and everyone is always impressed by them!

      We’ve also eaten some bad profiteroles in restaurants, and I now only order them in restaurants where I know they will make them fresh. I think the best were at Bouchon in Las Vegas …

      I’ve heard about making chocolate choux pastry but I’ve never tried it. Maybe that will be my next choux experiment? I really should try more flavour combinations but sometimes I can be really boring 😉

      P.S. I love the Interlaken region! As you may have seen, we like to travel to Grindelwald in winter and Interlaken is not far away. There is a lovely hotel in Interlaken called The Grand Restaurant Café Schuh which is a really nice place to go for coffee and cake. And the odd thing is that the wife of the chef is Thai so the restaurant also serves really delicious Thai food! Quite unexpected for Interlaken but a nice change from the usual mountain food 🙂 They also serve Peking Duck! I’m definitely ordering that the next time we visit.

      Reply
      • Paula 13 March 2014

        I take a note with that place!!! In this moment I’m going to visit the web, if you recommend, only with this sounds good! 😛 And we’ll be five nights in that area, so we can try even a little of Thai food 😛

        Thank you!!!! Of course, I have save also some adresses in Zurich, but we only stay there for a day 😉

        Reply
  4. These are my freaking DREAM! Love the look of these!

    Reply
  5. Nelmarie Rennison 12 March 2014

    Oh no what a shame. I have her book and mine comes out beautifully. Even have a standing order for them at my little man’s school now. Hope you find a recipe that works for you!

    Reply
  6. Sue Harris 12 March 2014

    I have Ruths books, and each and every recipe I have tried has worked out perfectly, and very delicious too..She is a brilliant cook, Ruth also took the time and trouble to help me out with a lovely recipe for her Maderia Cake..which was perfection..I don’t understand your review because her éclair recipe worked brilliantly for me!!!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 12 March 2014

      That’s reassuring to know that Ruth’s recipes have always been reliable for you. Sometimes a recipe can work perfectly for one person but not for another – such is the nature of baking, I suppose. Hopefully I will have more luck with Ruth’s other recipes.

      Reply
  7. Sinéad Kennedy 12 March 2014

    I am actually amazed at this review as I have all of Ruth’s books and haven’t had a failure yet. If ever I am having a special occasion, I go straight for Ruth’s books as I am GUARANTEED of a fail proof delicious bake. Sounds like you were having an off day.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 12 March 2014

      Yes, maybe we can put it down to an off day 🙂 Hopefully I will have better luck next time!

      Reply
      • Sinéad Kennedy 12 March 2014

        Fingers crossed!

        Reply
  8. Tat 12 March 2014

    What is there not to understand? Well she is stating what happened to her when she made it. I do find it odd that just after being asked by the team of Ruth to review the book and you say a negative thing that two posts within minutes are devoted to saying that you are wrong. I have never seen that before and I hope it is not the marketing team. It sounds like a hard sell to me. I don’t think any recipe is ever completly GUARANTEED. Yes marketing companies get paid top dollar to make sure that they write good reviews and posts no matter what. Maybe I am on the wrong track and if so I apologise to Sinead and Sue however no cook or person (Yes even Ruth) is 100% all the time and not to mention it was made twice and still failed, is hardly an off day.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 12 March 2014

      I agree with you that no recipe is ever guaranteed – what works for one person may not work for another. There’s a reason why there are many recipes for choux pastry out there. And even though a recipe may not work out, it does not necessarily mean that the recipe, or the recipe author, is wrong. Hopefully others can understand that too 🙂

      Reply
  9. Sinéad Kennedy 12 March 2014

    Blimey Tat, noooo I’m not in marketing!! I am a stay at home Mum who just loves to bake. 😀 I was just giving my honest opinion on Ruth’s recipes. I love them and not once have they failed me. Delia Smith has never failed me either, and no, I don’t work for her either 😀

    Reply
  10. Hannah 13 March 2014

    A fabulous blog post as usually Thanh. You were asked to review a recipe, and that request clearly comes with the knowledge that it might not be favourable one. You have been very diplomatic in writing up the results, clearly you cannot lie but you have been very kind in your review, even suggesting the poor results may have been your own fault, which I think is very kind of you. I hope this didn’t go unappreciated by the person requesting the review, although obviously it went over the heads of some followers which is a shame.

    I love eclairs and profiteroles and all things choux but have still not been brave enough to try it. I must rectify that! Simon Hopkinson does a lovely looking recipe for Cheese Gougeres which I might start with then progress from there.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 13 March 2014

      Thank you, Hannah 🙂 It seems many have had good success with Ruth’s éclair recipe but I guess the stars were not aligned for me on this one. It’s a little unsettling that some people can’t understand why a recipe which works for them might not work for someone else, but c’est la vie 🙂

      I also love all things choux and, before this experience, I would have said that it was easy-peasy to make. Now I would have to qualify that statement! When my husband offers to cook, he often rustles up cheese gougères with his faithful recipe from Marmiton. They are incredibly moreish and I would definitely recommend that you try savoury choux 🙂 xx

      Reply
    • Gina 18 July 2016

      That’s a subtle way of thiinkng about it.

      Reply
    • car insurance rate 14 September 2016

      I certainly haven’t forgotten! And I know that need to incubate, being in that space myself right now. Can’t wait to see what emerges from your process!Lynne Tolk´s last blog ..

      Reply
  11. Caroline 15 March 2014

    Incredibly tempting photos those Thanh! Could reach into the screen and just grab one!

    I loved the fact that you were honest in your post, and that too, on two counts – honest enough to give the Ruth Clemen’s recipe a second go after the first failure, and secondly to say so, acknowledging that it may have been a fault on your side too. Generous on all fronts.

    We are home bakers not professional. Our blogs are an extension of our kitchens and consequently, will and *should* express the honesty of what happens in there – great success, difficult failures and everything in between. Sure, it’s always disappointing if someone has found a recipe I absolutely, zealously love to be a dismal, unappealing product but there are certainly more worrisome things to dwell on.

    As others said, it’s difficult for one recipe to have a consistent outcome in every single kitchen, since everyone cooks differently and ingredients, especially finicky ones like flour, vary greatly. To assume that one recipe, will work every single time someone, anyone, in the world tries it, is rather far fetched. Case in point : you find great success with Rachel Allen’s recipes and I constantly fight them. We’ve debated that, but am glad to say are still friends after 😉

    Blog on 😀

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 16 March 2014

      I’m so relieved that there are fair-minded people like you in the world 🙂 Phew!

      The reaction from some fans of Ruth Clemens to this post was, to say the least, a mild shock for me, but maybe they’ve never had the misfortune of a recipe going wrong for them. Ruth Clemens has since taken down the reader comments from her Facebook page as they were a touch unpleasant, but I suppose some people are not used to reading honest reviews. But I should stress that an honest review is not necessarily a negative review.

      Even though things can go pear-shaped for me in the kitchen, I will still continue to blog about my experiences, and I hope to do so in the fairest manner possible. Just because a recipe fails, it is not necessarily a reflection on the author of the recipe. As you say, there are so many variables to take into consideration.

      And I’m glad our differences over Rachel Allen’s recipes never became a pie-throwing match … we’ve always been too busy finding new and different recipes to share 🙂 xx

      Reply
  12. Rushi 17 March 2014

    Thanh, I love the fact that you’re so honest about the failures and successes in your kitchen. We’ve all had those days where some recipes simply don’t turn up the way they’re supposed to. I know it’s disppointing and you keep wondering what went wrong but you just pick up your cake bowls and move on 🙂
    Well, I love love éclairs, the ones you get in the French bakeries are simply outstanding. I’ve never made ’em at home though. My mom on the other hand makes beautiful choux pastry and they turn out so light. Anyway I’m happy that Nigella’s recipe worked for you and that you were able to have your sweet fix 🙂
    xxx

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 20 March 2014

      Thanks, Rushi 🙂 There are some amazing shops in Paris which sell really gorgeous éclairs – it would be rather dangerous for my waistline if I lived there! Although, I love treating myself to a chocolate éclair from Sprüngli in Zurich and seem to do so at least once a week 🙂

      Reply
  13. dina 22 March 2014

    these look hard to make. they look great!

    Reply
  14. Rose 4 April 2018

    You are right – making éclairs from scratch is not so difficult but just requires a few steps which can be broken down. I made this recipe but filled it with a vanilla custard instead. So yummy!!

    Reply
  15. Julia 12 April 2018

    Oooh, this looks SO good! I bet those flavors are amazing! YUM!!

    Reply