Classic French Chocolate Éclair Recipe

Classic French Chocolate Éclair on a marble counter

The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Prep: 35 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Chill/Cool: 2 hrs 20 mins
Total: 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 12 eclairs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
328 Calories
20g Fat
29g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 328
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 207mg 69%
Sodium 132mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 97mg 7%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 185mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

if you have ever looked in the window of a French Patisserie, you will almost always see a row of glistening, chocolate-covered, cream-filled chocolate éclairs. They are a true classic, and we do not know ​anyone who does not enjoy eating them. How could you resist?

This traditional chocolate éclair recipe uses vanilla pastry cream as a filling and a rich ganache-like chocolate glaze. Make this treat using a super simple choux pastry dough for a base, and you will have the exact pastry seen in bakery windows worldwide.

Not a seasoned baker? This chocolate éclair recipe is beyond delicious, very easy to make, and attractive, even if you're not a pro.

"Making chocolate eclairs at home is such a satisfying way to spend time in the kitchen. These taste like those bought in a bakery, only better. You can make the shells and pastry cream in advance, and the ganache on the day you plan to serve the eclairs. Splitting up the components makes the recipe much more manageable.” —Diana Andrews

Classic French Chocolate Eclair Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Choux Pastry Dough:

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

For the Pastry Cream:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Steps to Make It

Make the Choux Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for choux dough in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

    Parchment paper lined baking sheets

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Combine the butter, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture until the butter melts and is incorporated into the water.

    Melted butter in a saucepan on a burner, with a wooden spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low. Stir vigorously and continuously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together in a ball, pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, and a thin film develops on the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Continue to stir the dough vigorously so the dough dries out a bit and moisture evaporates, another 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.

    Choux Dough in a saucepan with a wooden spoon, on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Remove from heat, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Let cool, stirring occasionally on a low setting until the dough is only slightly warm to the touch. Beat in the eggs, one at a time on low speed until each one is well incorporated into the batter and the dough looks smooth before adding the next egg.

    Alternatively, use a wooden spoon, stirring vigorously and continuously after each egg is added.

    Choux Dough in a stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  6. Spoon the choux pastry dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch star tip and pipe six 4-inch lengths onto each baking sheet.

    Choux Dough piped on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  7. Bake one sheet at a time until the eclair shells are very puffed and just beginning to show slight color, 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 F and continue to bake until the pastries are golden brown and dry-looking, 16 to 18 minutes more. The shells should sound hollow when lightly tapped.

    Baked Choux Dough on a lined baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  8. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before filling. Be sure to bring the oven back to 425 F before baking the second batch.

    Eclair shells on a wire cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Make the Pastry Cream

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Pastry cream ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface.

    Milk in a saucepan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the cornstarch and salt, whisking well to combine.

    Egg yolk and sugar mixture in a glass bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. In a thin stream, pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture while continuing to whisk constantly until well combined.

    Milk and egg mixture in a glass bowl with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl clean with a silicone spatula. Over medium heat, cook while whisking constantly until it thickens to the consistency of a thick pudding, about 3 1/2 minutes. It may look lumpy as the pastry cream starts to thicken, but will smooth out as you continue to whisk.

    Pastry cream cooking in a saucepan on a burner, with a whisk

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  6. Transfer the pastry cream to a large clean bowl and whisk in the vanilla extract. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the fridge or over an ice bath until completely cooled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

    Pastry cream in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap, with a whisk next to the bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Make the Chocolate Glaze

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chocolate Glaze ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

    Chopped chocolate in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the heavy cream until it's just beginning to boil. Remove from the heat immediately.

    Heavy cream in a saucepan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir the mixture until the all the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

    Chocolate and cream mixture in a bowl, mixed with a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Set the chocolate glaze aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally until cool, 15 to 20 minutes.

    Chocolate glaze in a bowl, stirred with a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Assemble the Éclairs

  1. Poke three small even holes in the bottom of the eclair shells with a 3/16-inch wide plain pastry tip or Bismark tip. Whisk the cold pastry cream to lighten the texture. Fit a pastry bag with the pastry tip and fill with pastry cream, being sure not to overfill the bag.

    Pastry cream in a pastry bag

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Pipe the cream into each hole until it starts to seep out of the top or you feel the pastry starting to get heavy (about 4 tablespoons of pastry cream per shell). Alternatively, slice the pastry shell in half lengthwise with a serrated knife and fill evenly with 4 tablespoons of the pastry cream.

    Eclair shells filled with pastry cream, on a platter

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Gently spread 1 tablespoon of chocolate glaze onto the éclair or carefully dip the top of each filled éclair into the glaze (use this method only if you filled the shells from the bottom). Chill about 30 minutes to set the glaze before serving.

    Classic French Chocolate Éclairs brushed with chocolate glaze, and chocolate glaze in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

Raw Egg Warning

  • Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of foodborne illness.

Tips

  • Although making the choux dough is a bit of an arm workout, it's important to mix it for as long as the recipe directs to get crisp, dry shells that hold their shape and are perfect for filling with delicious pastry cream.
  • While baking the shells, if one side of the pastry is getting too dark, rotate the baking sheet for more even browning.
  • Pastry tip suggestions: For piping the choux dough, try Ateco Star Tip #828 (for ridged eclair shells) or Ateco Plain Tip #809 (for smooth eclair shells). For piping the pastry cream, try Ateco Bismark tip #230. or a plain 3/16-inch wide tip.
  • Be sure to chop the chocolate finely for the glaze, as large chunks might not melt fully in the hot heavy cream. If this happens, gently heat the chocolate-cream mixture in the microwave 15 seconds at a time, until the chocolate melts smoothly and completely.

Make Ahead

  • Shells can be made one day in advance and refrigerated. They can also be frozen for up to two months. If you want to freeze the shells, place them on a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper until frozen. Transfer to a bag or a container (if you're worried about them getting bumped and broken in the freezer). Re-crisp the shells briefly on a baking sheet in a 350 F oven. Let cool completely before filling with pastry cream as directed in the recipe.
  • Pastry cream can be made one day in advance and refrigerated.

Recipe Variations

  • Add a little espresso powder to the pastry cream for some coffee flavor.
  • Add cocoa powder to the pastry cream to make a double chocolate eclair.

How to Store

These are best the day they are made, but éclairs keep in a covered container for a day or two in the fridge. Keep in mind that as they sit, the filled eclairs will get a little soggy.

What is the difference between an eclair and a cream puff?

While both pastries are made with choux dough, eclairs tend to be piped into an oblong shape and cream puffs in a round shape. Also, eclairs are filled with pastry cream, while cream puffs tend to be filled with whipped cream or pastry cream lightened with whipped cream.