First on the First: Eclairs!

Our power goes out at the most inconvenient times.

Like last night, when I was trying to {finally} get started on a 4000 word paper that I naturally left myself two nights to complete.  Last night was also when I was planning to write this post and, when our power goes, so does our internet.  Power outages always make me realize why people of yore just went to bed when it got dark – candles are lovely, but darkness is sleepifying and, if I can’t get anything done anyway, I might as well catch up on sleep.

Of course, going to bed early, full of optimism and excitement, is just asking for trouble, as my normally solid-sleeping kids were each up about 8 times last night.  Ergh.

I could see this as yet another reminder to strive not to procrastinate – with it being March, I guess I will now have to wait for January 1, 2013 for that particular resolution!

Procrastination isn’t just going to get me into trouble with writing this looming paper, but also with these First on the First challenges!  This post could have been written a week ago if I hadn’t waited until February 29 to make and photograph my éclairs.

To be fair, my kitchen took a good week longer than I had {naively} anticipated, and only last week did I get all my cupboards filled and some semblance of order and cleanliness restored.  It’s amazing how easily I adapted to this new kitchen, with none of the expected wandering and aimless turns I’m used to experiencing in a new kitchen space.  I think that’s a sign that we did it right, and it really is functional for our lifestyle.  I can’t wait to try new things in there, with homemade Sponge Toffee being high on the to-do list.  One of my first endeavours was these éclairs, and it was indeed my first time making them.

This is the kind of dessert that my cream puff-loving Dad would love (no Mom, I am not calling you a cream puff), so I might just have to make them again when he is here for a visit next week. Yay for visits! Gemma can hardly wait to give up her bed and has great plans for making chocolate chip cookies with him, a skill I warned him he better quickly master or risk a seriously disappointed little 3-year-old face.

This is, to be honest, not really my kind of dessert.  I am not big on whipped cream or pudding, and filled donuts are, in my mind, a horribly unpleasant surprise, especially if they’re jelly filled.  Why would you take something delicious and fill it with goo? Give me a proper donut hole any day, and I will show you a mean finger hula.

What IS up my alley is the pastry, which is essentially the same as cream puff pastry.  It is so easy to make, lighter than a donut, and somehow totally has the ability to impress people.  Biases aside, I actually thoroughly enjoyed more than one of these, due in no small part to the thick chocolate piped on top!

Desserts like these sure make it handy to have my in-laws living downstairs, since they are happy to accept dessert in exchange for dinner.  I love having a willing audience to pawn off my excess baking, and they are honest critics who never mind being guinea pigs for experiments.

If easy custard-filled filled pastry is your thing, or the thing of someone you love, I highly recommend surprising them with a batch of éclairs.  Or make them for your next party – super easy and see above re: impressing people.

You could certainly thin your icing more than I did, and a ganache would be really delicious, but, like I said, these were a last minute affair and I wasn’t about to try multiple icing variations. :)  I did do some with piping and some with a solid layer coating the top, but I didn’t find it affected the flavour much either way.  I also didn’t pipe my dough onto the baking sheet, I simply spread it haphazardly with a spoon, trying to keep them all fairly uniform.  This did result in some pretty craggy tops that made solid icing more difficult, so if you’re striving for smooth perfection I would recommend the piping route. (If you don’t have a large piping tip, scoop the dough into a large plastic freezer bag, cut a good chunk off the corner to make a large “piping hole”, and go the ghetto route I usually choose).  Either way, make sure you don’t spread them too thin since you want them to puff enough to have space for filling – but don’t stress too much because really, they’re going to taste great.


Pinit

4.8 from 25 reviews
Easy Eclairs
 
Prep
Cook
Total time
 
An easy and impressive dessert that tastes even better than the bakery version!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • CHOUX PASTRY:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • CUSTARD FILLING:
  • 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups milk (or as called for on pudding package)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup icing sugar (aka powdered sugar/confectioner's sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • CHOCOLATE ICING:
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate (or ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar (aka confectioners sugar/powdered sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp hot water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. LIghtly grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine ½ cup butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt butter.
  3. Reduce heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough.
  4. Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly, especially with the first one, to prevent it from cooking into scrambled eggs on the bottom of your warm pan :)
  5. With a spoon or pastry bag fitted with a large tip, spread/pipe the thick dough onto prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips approximately 1½ x 4" each.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 20 minutes, until puffed and golden and hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. When removed from oven, IMMEDIATELY pierce the ends almost through to the other side to let steam escape and prevent any sogginess in the middle. This hole is also where you will be piping your filling into. Let cool completely before filling and icing (this will only take about half an hour).
  7. For CUSTARD FILLING: combine pudding and milk in a bowl and mix according to package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in ¼ cup icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt. Fold whipped cream into pudding.
  8. Scoop mixture into pastry bag fitted with a smallish tip (I enlarged my steam holes a bit to make my tip fit, so do whatever works) and pipe mixture into centers of eclairs until full. This is a bit of a messy business, but worth it for ease of eating and pretty appearance. You could certainly also just slice the eclairs in half horizontally, fill the bottoms with cream, and replace the tops. Either way, you will probably have some custard leftover.
  9. For ICING: Melt the chocolate and 2 Tbsp butter over low heat in a saucepan (or in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and giving additional 10 second increments as needed until fully melted). Stir in 1 cup icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in hot water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until icing is smooth and reaches desired consistency. Drizzle, pipe or spread over filled eclairs.
  10. Store in the fridge.

Thanks again to Carrie and Kate for hosting First on the First – drop one of them a quick note if you’d like to join us for these kitchen challenges! Don’t forget to check out the links below for some great éclairs from the other participants!

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

 

I’m also linking this up at Mom on Timeout, where there are all kinds of ideas to inspire you!

 

Éclairs

Comments

    • says

      My filling was on the thin side. Am thinking I should have whipped the heavy cream till it was stiff as the vanilla pudding was quite solid. The recipe says nothing about how long to whip. Help!

      • says

        Yes, the whipped cream needs to be whipped, but how long depends on your mixer and speed…definitely until as stiff as you would use to put it on a dessert on its own. Hope that helps!

  1. Anisha Mathew says

    Hello, i tried the recipe last week, the chocolate and the filling came about perfect but the pastry did not rise. it tasted very nice,similar to the ones you get at the bakery store but the pastry did not rise and was not hollow.
    i baked it on 220 degrees for 10 mins and 170 degrees for 25 mins.
    for 1 cup i added 2 eggs and got the right piping consistency as well. not sure what went wrong can you please suggest.

    • says

      It may be that you overbeat the mixture after adding the eggs. If the eggs are overbeaten they will make the pastry fall when it’s baked. Otherwise I’m not sure, unless the temperatures you baked at were too low to allow it to bake fast enough to rise. I’m assuming you’re giving me temperatures in Celsius? If so, they should have been fine.

  2. Colin Harris says

    They look great but what is the “instant vanilla pudding mix” you mention? Who makes it? I live in the UK and I don’t know what I’m looking for. :)

  3. says

    This was a hit! I’m going to save this recipe. I’ve never made these before and was successful with this recipe. I was able to pipe the dough and cream with ziploc bags. I used half the sugar in the chocolate sauce. Thank you for this recipe :)

  4. Sarah says

    Could you temper the eggs for the pasty dough? Like you would for a thick sauce? Take a couple spoonfuls of the warm butter/water and beat it in to make sure you don’t end up with ScrambleBatter…which I’m keen to avoid. Has anyone tried it?

    • says

      I’m not sure how that would affect things – overbeating the eggs can cause the pastry to over-rise and then collapse, so you want to beat them in quickly but gently…as long as you mix them in immediately you should have no problem!

  5. Valentine says

    This was my first recipe I ever made from Pinterest. Just made these and they are super fun to make! Thanks for the great easy recipe! They are so yummy! Oh my gosh, the custard filling was so AMAZEBALLZ!!!

  6. Ashley says

    I am making these for my husbands birthday breakfast (the big 3-0 lol)….can I make the pastry dough the night before? Or should all this be made day of?
    Thanks!!

    • says

      Yes, you can make the dough the night before – I’ve even made the whole things the night before, just store them in the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off :) Hope he loves them!

  7. Amanda says

    This is an amazing recipe. I have celiacs disease (cant have anything with flour) So I have been without eclairs for 10 years. I finally got the courage and made them gluten free. They are amazing!!!!!! I have tons of custard left over so im snacking on that!

  8. Megan Camp says

    I have a cream puff recipe in my Vita-mix cookbook that is almost identical. The filling is slightly different but still uses the instant pudding.

    If people have Vita-mix machines, they can create the pastry in their vita-mix machine. No pots and pans or cooking it. The machine does all the work. Just put the pastry ingredients in the Vita-mix, turn on high for 4 minutes. Turn off and scoop onto baking sheets. So easy!!

    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  9. Michelle Cannata says

    I make this recipe all the time for family functions now! So easy and I usually have all of this kicking already! Guaranteed the green batter lady used an old pan, one with the coating decently broken down, or a metal spoon. She got a metallic reaction

  10. Ladymukk says

    I’ve made these before, my mother had a recipie called never fail cream puffs, but every time I make them the mixture is green! I’m quite an experienced baker but can’t figure it out :( if anyone else has had this problem or knows where I’m going wrong please feel free to let me know!

    Also we call it icing sugar in Australia and Americans call it powdered or confectioners sugar. Just like us Aussies call it icing and Americans call it frosting!

    • says

      Interesting – I have no idea why it would turn green! The only thing I can think is if your type of pan is reacting with the ingredients somehow…

  11. Regina says

    I have been doing it this way for many years. I never added any extra sugar to the cream filling, just a couple of drops of good vanilla, or the scrapings of a vanilla bean. And for the icing, butter and chocolate chips melted together for a ganache. I like to use salted butter, because I love the taste of salted chocolate.

  12. Elle says

    Oh my goodness. I tend to fail when baking with pastries as my oven isn’t real ‘crash hot’. But these were SO easy, I was gobsmacked when I pulled them out the oven to see they were absolutely perfect! Thankyou so much for this recipe, they will certainly be a regular in my house! Yummy x

      • Elle says

        Oh no, I’ve failed a little bit! Can you not use regular Cadbury milk block chocolate for this? I’ve just wasted a whole block while attempting 3 times to make the icing but it keeps turning into a gluggy, greasy, lumpy mess!

        • says

          Shoot – the chocolate can seize if you don’t use hot enough water, or some chocolate bars/chips have wax coatings that affect the melting quality. If it’s not working as stated, melt just the chocolate with 2 Tbsp butter and that should be fail-proof.

  13. says

    This just blew my mind. I saw the recipe, decided to try it – why not? – but didn’t have high hopes, even though you said they were easy.

    They turned our perfectly and were SO good. Everyone in the house agreed that they’re the best eclairs we’ve ever had – and we’re looking forward to making them again and experimenting with different fillings and tops!

  14. Kate says

    I’m usually up for a challenge so I decided with all the talk about how easy these are I thought I’d give it a go. Sure enough, easy peasy (especially when you have the right type of pudding ;). I bought the cooked kind. My bad.). I have had nothing but compliments and can’t wait to try some of the variations posted.

  15. Lexi says

    Just wondering if all purpose flour is plain flour or self raising flour? Can’t wait to bake these for a baby shower!!

  16. mandy says

    Just found this recipe off Pinterest. Instead of doing eclairs you can just make cream puffs with this dough. Much easier to work with in my opinion. Also, they can be done sweet or savory. And isn’t icing sugar the same thing as powdered sugar??

  17. Georgette says

    Can they be made with Gluten free flour?

    Also rather than using a pudding mix my grandmothers custard recipe is easy as and can be made as thick as you want without the use of cream. (For making a lighter version)

    Ingredients:
    1L of milk (skim works fine)
    2 large eggs
    4 tablespoons sugar
    6 tablespoons of cornflour

    Flavouring:
    Teaspoon of vanilla essence or rum or brandy or any other flavour (2-3tablespoons of coco powder for chocolate custard)

    Method:
    Beat eggs, flour and sugar (and coco if making chocolate) until smooth, then stir in milk. Cook contstantly stiring, over medium heat, until thick but don’t boil.
    Add in flavour once cooked.

    Lasts 3-5 days in the fridge.

    • Anna says

      I made these with gluten free flour and they turned out great! I just substituted equal amounts. I also used a syringe, like one you would use to give medicine to a small child, to fill the eclairs with icing and this worked much better for me than a pastry bag, less messy. Thanks for this delicious recipe!

  18. Kathy says

    I make the shells slice them open after cooled and fill them with chicken salad I have made these for Christmas Eve for my children and now my grandchildren look forward to them

  19. Suzie says

    I just made these, but took them from the oven after only 20 minutes total as they were browning too much. they looked fine but when i punctured them with a chopstice they flattened ;( what did i do wrong?

    • says

      They do get quite brown – they will flatten if they are undercooked as the middle is still soggy and it weighs them down. You also may have overbeaten the eggs, that can sometimes cause them to over-rise and then fall…sorry they didn’t work out for you :(

  20. sylvia says

    made these today, yum, yum, yummie!! i’m also going to try them will lemon like someone else suggested and try some with apple filling with cinnamon sugar. the husband has requested raspberry with dark chocolate on top. i’ll let you know how thse turn out!

  21. says

    I just made these, and I had to adjust the cooking, but everything turned out wonderfully! They were soft and squishy. Very doughnut like. I will be taking these to family during Christmas this year. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s reactions! If they’re like me, you can’t eat just one!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  22. Lauren says

    I made these today and they are delicious. I do not have much experience in baking but your directions are very clear and the results are wonderful. I pierced both ends with a toothpick since that is all I had handy. The only thing I did differently is the baking time. I only baked them at 325 degrees for 10 mins at which point they were ‘puffed and golden.’ Will make again.

  23. Danielle says

    I’m here from Pinterest and the eclairs look so good! I was wondering though, do you think these can be made without putting the cream in the middle? I love eclairs but the rest of my family aren’t the biggest fans…

    • says

      They certainly could be – they would just be like an unfilled cream puff :) You could always fill them with straight pudding or straight whipped cream if that would go over better?

      • says

        This is how I grew up eating them. Fill them with vanilla ice cream and then put Hershey’s chocolate over them. Delish!!

        • says

          I think I’d like vanilla ice cream even more than the cream filling! Perfect for summer, a nice messy treat to eat outside :)

  24. Arika says

    Just wondering if you know how long these would stay if I kept them in the fridge? I was hoping to make these for a party the night before. (I love having things done ahead of time.)

    • says

      I have eaten them the second day with no problems – I’m with you, as much prep as can be done ahead is always nice! They are good cold but if you take them out half an hour before you need them they’ll be even better :)

  25. Anne says

    I just love your blog. I especially love the way you have the “recipe” set up for ease of printing.
    The recipes are devine, though not always ‘easy” as described. Certainly all look yummity!!

  26. Colleen says

    I am in the middle of making these for the second time. The first time they came out amazing! The filling is definitely a 2 person job. Since I don’t have piping bags or tips we taped a piece of a straw to the tip of a ziplock bag to get the filling all the way in. It worked pretty well (with 2 people).

  27. valeri lyon says

    So easy and So yummy… but my dough did not rise so much BUT so YUMMY

    Hmm I think I may have over beaten my eggs.. but still delicious YUM

  28. Karen says

    I made these yesterday and the flavor was very good, but the filling was soft and the pastry didn’t rise when I made the eclair shapes. I did make the small round shapes and those came out better. The frosting was delicious. I don’t know what I did wrong. Sorry for the negative, but would love to know what I did. Thanks Karen

    • says

      If the pastry didn’t rise it could have been a couple things – mine didn’t rise when I didn’t pipe them thick enough, so definitely make sure you follow the recommend size/amount. Otherwise it could have been the egg incorporation – the beaten eggs are what helps it rise, but if it’s overbeaten the dough will fall. As for the filling, it’s supposed to very soft, making for a pretty messy business during the filling, but giving that real pudding-y eclair filling when you bite in and some oozes out :) Hope that helps – let me know if you need any more info!

  29. says

    I’ve made eclairs for small family gatherings before and this little tip helped me out alot. I use a hand mixer instead of a wooden spoon, it makes incorporating the eggs so much easier and I don’t fear about my eggs scrambling before being incorporated.

    • says

      Thanks for the tip! The only risk with mixers is overbeating, resulting in chewy, leathery dough, but a light hand with the mixer would definitely make short work of that step.

  30. Carol says

    I’ve been making these for too many years to count and they are absolutely delicious……Just about the same recipe but one thing……….You have to triple the icing to get the true taste…**smile**..Thanks

    • says

      Haha, the icing is definitely one of the best parts! I think I’ll at least double it next time to give it a try :)

  31. Samantha Binion says

    I am wanting to make these today and have a question. Do I need to use real butter or can I use marg?

    • says

      I used real butter because you definitely want the pastry to be flaky. However, I’ve used margarine in just about every recipe until recently and it always worked fine so I am sure it’ll work – just use the hard margarine meant for baking and it should be fine!

  32. Nancy says

    These look so yummy!! I am going to have to make these and take them to my life group at church! I know they will love them! Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Let me know how they turn out! I served these to guests a few times and they are always so impressed I feel guilty not telling them it was pretty easy :)

  33. Christine says

    They turned out great, kids and surprised neighbours are all very happy! I doubled the recipe, but got more than 20 at the suggested piping size, so plenty to go around and sample… Groan…
    Thanks!

  34. Christine says

    Question: what did you use to pierce the pastry after baking? I recall when we made these in high school that we cut them in half and had to scoop out dough to leave shells, but an enclosed version would be so much neater. Hoping to make a test batch tomorrow (only because you caused me a craving) so i can make with my kids and nieces next mo to tease my dad. He had an episode when he was a kid, where we will simply sayhe ate an excess of eclairs and suffered the logical consequence….

    • says

      I recommend using a skewer (wood or metal, the kind you use for barbecuing skewers of meat), but anything long and skinny will do – I used the non-brush end of my daughter’s little paintbrushes because that’s what I had handy :)

  35. Linda says

    Wow! I use to make these when when my kidos were young. Yours look amazing, maybe like Pastry Chef is in your future. I found your blog by way of (Crumbs & Crafts). My lucky day. Thanks.

  36. Jane says

    We always called these cream puffs! Have made them for years…and yes, they are mmmmm! Thanks for reminding me to make them!

  37. says

    Oh. My. Gosh. My mouth is actually watering. These are a huge weakness for me. If I dared make them, it could be very very dangerous!

  38. says

    Your eclairs are lovely. The last photo was especially mouth-watering. First on the first is a great way to try new things!

  39. says

    These look fantastic. I love eclairs but I like the whipped cream version and not the custard. I found the custard tricky to make so luckily I don’t like it. This reminds me I need pastry bags so I can make some. Lol. You made me wickedly hungry.

  40. says

    I have always thought that making eclairs would be time consuming and difficult. However, this post has proved me wrong. You did an amazing job for your first attempt, they look delicious. Thanks for posting this recipe, now perhaps I can tackle making these. First on the first does sound like a great idea for a blog hop challenge. Glad I stopped in!

  41. Cheryl says

    What is “icing sugar?” is that the same thing as powdered sugar? Sorry….. I am a novice. These look GREAT and I ‘m going to try them this weekend!

      • Cheryl says

        I made these last night! Then, brought them to our local fire station. The firefighters loved them! They turned out pretty good, for a first timer! I obvioulsy need more practice with squirting the cream inside the pastry! I had more on my hands than in the pastry! But alot of fun to make and easier than I thought.

        Thank you for sharing this recipe!

        • says

          Haha, I definitely had a huge mess on my hands the first time I filled them! I am not the neatest of bakers, there’s a reason I don’t do step-by-step pictures ;) I love that you brought these to the fire station – what a great way to show your support!

    • Kat says

      Don’t feel bad. I’ve been cooking for 40 years and never heard of icing sugar. I was wondering what it was too.

    • says

      Thank you! I loved that shot too – looked like what I thought in my mind an eclair should look like :) The icing definitely hides the rough tops nicely!

  42. says

    My mom adores éclairs – – I never thought they were so easy to make though!! I’ll have to book mark these, for mothers day :)

    I also must say, thank goodness not piping is an option for the dough, I’m always petrified (not sure why) of piping out my dough.

  43. says

    The eclairs look wonderful and don’t seem to bad to make, but there is no way I could make them as pretty as yours. I can’t recall if my husband likes eclairs or cannoli’s (sorry for spelling)? But I think he would really love your eclairs. this looks like a great weekend recipe for me to try!!

      • Joanna says

        Think I may have to try these this week. They look amazing! I love eclaires but my all time favorite is a cannoli so If you get a chance you need to for sure try them, you will be hooked! Not as easy as these to make but so worth it

Trackbacks

  1. […] Top 10-type post as I have in years past. Then I thought, does anyone really want to know that chocolate éclairs and the best ever banana muffins are STILL the most popular recipes around here? Or do they want to […]

  2. […] Easy Eclairs – far and away the most popular recipe on our site! I tried these as part of a First on the First challenge and was pleasantly surprised by both how easy and how delicious they were, if a little messy to fill. I’ve now made them numerous times and they are always a hit, so I’m so glad others have also been able to impress family and friends with these babies. […]

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