Ready to indulge in a delightfully simple yet customizable baking adventure? Dive into our eclair recipe that blends ease with elegance, perfect for both novice and seasoned bakers!
Recipe At a Glance
Eclairs are likely one of the simplest treats you can bake using choux pastry. They don’t require any fancy piping techniques, and a makeshift piping bag made from a food bag is more than enough.
Moreover, you can fill and top them with almost anything, making this a highly customizable recipe in your culinary repertoire.
Begin with a basic version featuring whipped cream and a dusting of powdered sugar, then experiment with various filling and topping combinations.
If you’re making eclairs for the first time, be sure to read the ingredient notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re an experienced baker, feel free to jump directly to the recipe card.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutes
- Unsalted butter.
- All-purpose flour.
In this recipe, I use stabilized whipped cream as the filling, but there’s nothing stopping you from using any other pipeable filling.
- Powdered sugar.
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch helps stabilize the whipped cream. You can omit it, but the whipped cream will start to lose its shape and become watery sooner. You can also use potato starch instead.
- Whipping cream.
How to Make Eclairs
Here’s a detailed, step-by-step description of making eclairs.
Step 1: Make Choux Pastry
- Preheat the oven. Begin by preheating your oven to 390°F (~200°C).
- Cook the butter. In a pot, mix the butter and water, then bring the mixture to a boil, making sure the butter is fully melted.
- Stir in the flour. Pour all the flour into the boiling mixture at once, and stir vigorously with a spoon over low heat. It will thicken and combine quickly, but continue stirring the mixture for 3-4 minutes (set a timer). While stirring, scrape the dough from the sides and bottom to prevent it from sticking. After 4 minutes, the dough should be glossy and should easily detach from the pot.
- Transfer. Move the dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
- Prepare the eggs. Break the eggs into a separate bowl.
- Make the dough. Once the dough has cooled slightly, begin mixing it with a hand mixer at medium speed. After 20-30 seconds of mixing, gradually add the beaten eggs to the dough, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until all eggs are incorporated and the dough is thick and sticky.
Step 2: Pipe and Bake Eclairs
- Prepare the baking tray. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat. If necessary, draw straight 2- to 3-inch long lines on the underside of the parchment paper as a guide, spaced about 2 inches apart. Some baking mats already have the eclair shape on them. This will help you make the eclairs straight and of uniform length.
- Get ready for piping. Transfer the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large tip. I use a Wilton 6B, which has an opening of approximately 15mm in diameter (a bit more than half an inch). Alternatively, use a plastic food bag with a corner cut off. The eclairs won’t look as elegant, but they will taste just as delicious.
- Pipe. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking tray, forming strips about half an inch wide and 2-3 inches long, leaving a little more than an inch of space between each strip to allow for expansion. Hold the piping bag at a 45-degree angle and pipe the eclair in one slow and smooth action. If the end of the eclair has an irregular shape that bothers you, you can smooth it out using wet fingers.
- Bake. Place the tray in the preheated oven and immediately lower the temperature to 356°F (180°C). Bake the eclairs for 40-45 minutes until they have a nicely browned top. Avoid opening the oven door for at least the first 30 minutes to ensure they rise properly.
Step 3: Make Filling
(Skip this section if you’re making a different filling.)
- Chill your equipment. If your heavy cream doesn’t always whip properly, start by chilling the bowl and mixer beaters in the fridge or freezer for at least 20 minutes. A lower temperature facilitates the whipping process.
- Prepare the powder. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch.
- Mix. Pour cold whipping cream into the chilled bowl and begin mixing at medium speed. As the cream starts to thicken and reaches soft peaks, increase to high speed and gradually add the powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture until stiff peaks form.
- Refrigerate. Keep the whipped cream in the fridge until it’s needed.
Step 4: Combine & Serve
- Cool the eclairs. After baking, remove the eclairs from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
- Slice. Carefully slice the eclairs horizontally to create a top and bottom.
- Fill. Transfer the whipped cream into a piping bag with the desired tip, or continue using the cut plastic bag. Pipe the whipped cream (or any other filling you prefer) onto the bottom halves of the eclairs, adding as much as you like. Feel free to be generous if you love the filling. Then, gently place the top halves of the eclairs onto the filled bottoms.
- Top the eclairs. While traditional eclairs are topped with chocolate ganache, a simple dusting of powdered sugar is an easy alternative. Feel free to experiment with different toppings.
- Serve. Serve the eclairs immediately after preparing them.
Tips for Making Eclairs
If you’re working with choux pastry for the first time, definitely check out my article on choux pastry. It’ll teach you everything you need to know to get the eclairs right the first time around.
While I prefer the “cut and filled” version of eclairs, piping the filling directly into the eclair without cutting it open is another viable option. Choose this method if you don’t have much filling or if your filling doesn’t hold its shape well.
- Select a piping tip. Opt for a long, narrow piping tip, such as a Bismarck tip. You need one that can puncture the pastry without causing it to crack or crumble.
- Pierce the eclair. Gently insert one end of the eclair shell with the tip of the piping bag. The tip should enter easily without applying too much pressure. Avoid cracking the eclair.
- Pipe with caution. Gradually fill the eclair, stopping when the shell begins to expand or the eclair starts to move away from the piping bag. Either sign indicates the eclair is filled.
- Clean any excess. If any filling oozes out of the pierced hole, gently wipe it off.
- Repeat for each eclair.
How to Serve Eclairs
Eclairs are versatile, allowing you to fill and top them with an array of ingredients. Here are some delightful options to consider.
For fillings, whipped cream and custard cream (or their flavored variations) are the most popular choices. If you’re filling the eclairs without cutting them open, options like lemon curd can work well.
As for toppings, powdered sugar is the simplest choice, with basic frosting as another popular option. You can also try making a ganache or a coffee-flavored variation.
Seal the filled eclairs tightly and store them in the fridge, where they will remain fresh for 3 to 4 days. Note that some creams, such as whipped cream, tend to weep or become watery after a day or two, so the eclairs may become soggy over time.
Like most desserts, eclairs are best when served on the day they are made.
If you need to prepare them in advance, bake the eclairs a day before and store them (uncut) in an airtight container at room temperature until you’re ready to fill them.
- 1 cup water ~240 ml
- 4 oz unsalted butter ~114 g
- 5 oz all-purpose flour ~142 g
- 5 eggs medium-sized
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream ~480ml
- 2-4 tbsp powdered sugar adjust to taste
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Preheat & Prep: Preheat your oven to 390°F (~200°C).
- Butter & Water Mix: In a pot, boil butter and water, ensuring butter is fully melted.
- Add Flour: Quickly stir in all the flour to the boiling mix, and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes on low heat until the dough is glossy and detaches easily from the pot.
- Cool Dough: Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes to prevent eggs from cooking upon addition.
- Egg Incorporation: Crack eggs separately, then add them one by one to the cooled dough, mixing continuously until the dough is thick and sticky.
Pipe & Bake:
- Line Tray: Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Optionally, draw 2-3 inch guide lines on the paper to ensure uniform size of eclairs.
- Dough in Piping Bag: Fill a piping bag, fitted with a large tip, with the choux pastry dough.
- Piping Eclairs: Pipe the dough onto the parchment paper, following the guide lines, to create uniform strips. Each should be about half an inch wide and 2-3 inches long. Keep them spaced to allow for expansion.
- Baking: Place the tray in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 356°F (180°C). Bake for 40-45 minutes, ensuring not to open the oven during the first 30 minutes for proper rising.
- Chill Equipment: Chill the mixing bowl and beaters to aid in whipping cream.
- Sugar Mix Prep: Combine powdered sugar with cornstarch to stabilize the whipped cream.
- Whipping Cream: Whip the cream in the chilled bowl, gradually adding the sugar mix as it thickens, until stiff peaks form.
- Cool Filling: Refrigerate the whipped cream until it's time to fill the eclairs.
Combine & Serve:
- Cooling Eclairs: Allow the baked eclairs to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
- Slicing: Carefully slice each eclair horizontally to create top and bottom halves.
- Filling: Using a piping bag, fill the bottom halves of the eclairs with the whipped cream or your chosen filling.
- Top & Finish: Place the tops back on, and finish with a topping of your choice, like chocolate ganache or a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Ready to Serve: Enjoy the eclairs immediately after assembly for best texture and taste.