Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pate au choux, pastry cream and ganache AKA Eclairs

Eclairs. You've seen them in the pastry cases of your favorite bakery, their delicate puffed shell, golden browned, filled with a luscious pastry or whipped cream, topped with rich chocolate. They're beautiful delightful little treats. And not nearly as hard to make at home as you might think!! They are labor intensive, however, so plan ahead if eclairs are on your dessert menu. Because they are so labor intensive they're the perfect treat for Valentines Day.

There are 4 recipes for this post:
~the pate au choux (translated is cabbage paste, because the batter is a paste and they resemble cabbages when made in round forms, well at least according to some French person who named them that!)
~Vanilla pastry cream
~Vanilla whipped cream filling
~Chocolate ganache glaze

The whipped cream filling is optional, and really is more of a cream puff filling than an eclair one, but honestly, the Witch household LOVED the whipped cream version a LOT more than the pastry cream filled ones. The Witch recommends trying both and deciding which you like best (and since you need the pastry cream to make the whipped cream, too, you're not really making anything 'extra')

Have fun with your shapes. The Witch made a few round puffs, they were a hit with the Little Witch. She liked the smaller bite sized puffs. Hearts would be really cute for Valentines day, too.

Apologies for the very lousy photos on this one folks. It was a cloudy snowy day, I was alone in the kitchen and really didn't realize how bad they were turning out until it was too late. As dark as the photos are, the eclairs were delicious!

Pate au Choux
Source: Pierre Hermeas via Apple Pie, Patis and Pate
makes approximatively 24 eclairs
1 c AP flour
5 eggs
1/2 c water
1/2 c milk
1 stick (1/2 c) butter
pinch salt
1/4 t sugar

Pastry Cream
makes about 2.5 cups
2 c milk
2 t vanilla
3 T cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/2 c sugar
pinch salt

Whipped Cream filling
makes about 2 cups worth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
about 1 cup pastry cream
1T vanilla
1 T sugar

Ganache, for glaze
makes enough to cover about 24 eclairs
1 c high quality chocolate chips
1/3 c heavy cream

Begin by making the pate au choux
Preheat oven to 375F
In a medium sized heavy bottom sauce pan combine the milk, water, sugar, salt & butter. Bring to a boil. Once it boils add the flour and stir vigorously until it forms a paste. Keep stirring this to cook out excessive moisture as the flour grains hydrate. It will take about 3-4 minutes. You may notice a white film forming on the bottom of the pan, this is normal & completely fine. Don't try to scrape it up.

Transfer the dough ball (which will be very soft and pliable) to the work bowl of a stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment. You can also do this by hand but it WILL give your arm a serious work out!

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing 1-2 minutes between additions. Scrap down sides before adding the next egg. This mixture will look curdled after each egg is added - don't panic - it WILL come together with enough mixing. When the last egg is fully incorporated you will have a thick smooth rich batter.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag (or a large zip top bag with the end cut off) and pipe long thin eclair shapes onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Pipe eclair shaped strips of the pastry dough OR make small rounds for cream puffs. Space them an inch apart from each other to allow room for expansion.

Bake as soon as piping is done. DO NOT ALLOW DOUGH TO SIT LONG BEFORE BAKING OR YOU RISK IT NOT PUFFING. Bake eclair pastry for 20-25 minutes total, rotating tray half way through. Remove pastry when they have puffed and are golden brown on top & bottom. Allow to cool.

Make the pastry cream
In the work bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg yolks, egg, corn starch and sugar. Mix with a flat paddle on medium speed. Mixture will lighten in color and thicken as it mixes. Keep mixing the egg sugar mixture while the milk heats on the stovetop.

Heat milk in a medium sauce pan until it boils. Remove about 1 cup of the milk and SLOWLY add this milk to the egg sugar mixture, to temper the eggs. Once the milk is incorporated add that to the remaining milk in the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and cook pastry cream about 3-4 minutes, until its thickened considerably. Remove pastry cream from heat, pass it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any coagulated egg pieces and allow to cool. Once cool put into a piping bag for easiest distribution into the eclair shells.

Make the whippped cream filling
In the work bowl of stand mixer add the cream, sugar and vanilla. Using the whisk attachment whip cream until it has firm peaks. Add 1 cup of pastry cream to the whipped cream and fold it in. Place in a piping bag for easiest distribution into the pastry shells.

Make the ganache
Heat the cream in a microwave safe bowl until it starts to simmer.
Place the chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate and cover TIGHTLY with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes stir the cream & chocolate. Keep stirring, the heat from the cream will have melted the chips but it takes your stirring to break down the chip shape to make a smooth ganache. This ganache will set up firm making it a nice icing or glaze.

Assemble eclairs
Cut each pastry in half with a sharp knife. The pastry should be hollow inside.

Pipe filling of your choice into the bottom of the pastry. Cover with the top half of pastry. Coat the tops with the ganache.

Allow ganache to set before eating (if you can wait that long!) and refrigerate left overs.


Design Wine and Dine said...

Eclairs completely from scratch!? Call me impressed!!!!! They look absolutly perfect to me - OMG please send me a tray now!!!!

I love how your little one likes the mini puffs, I think I would too :)

Stephanie Savors the Moment said...

Eclairs are my absolute favorite & yours look positively delicious! Thank you for sharing this fabulous recipe & Happy Valentine's Day:)

ladymorgiana said...

Eclairs are one of my personal top 10 :) and yours look fantastic!

tasteofbeirut said...

I love eclairs! Thanks to you I am reminded of that fact and will be making some soon! Too bad I missed the occasion this weekend!

Baking Addict said...

I love eclairs too. Fantastic job on yours, they look amazing!

Chef Dennis said...

your eclairs look delicious!! I have to admit, I have never made them, yours look so good I feel like going into the kitchen and making them now..sigh....good thing it so late!

Angie said...

Wow! My hat's off to you! Eclairs is the only dessert using pate a choux I haven't tried, and I should because they are my mom's abosulte favorite. Awesome job!

Angie @ Cocina Diary

bizzybakesb said...

This is quite an undertaking. I grew up eating eclairs from the bakery. They were such a treat. I hope I make these.

whozyerdanny said...

Eclairs = weak spot for me...Thanks!

StephenC said...

Grandma (mom's mom) would live with us for extended periods of time in her latter years. I always begged her to make this type of thing. She called them cream puffs. I don't believe I've had them since she died 40 years ago. Alas.

Jenn said...

When I was a kid I always wanted eclairs when my dad would take me to the bakery!! I think they are bit too much work for me, but I'd love to come over and try one :)

Yenta Mary said...

Oh, those are absolutely gorgeous!!! I've never undertaken making them. This makes it look easy ... and I really, really, REALLY wish I had one for breakfast with my coffee ... :)

Rosy said...

I LOVE ECLAIRS! Your eclairs look fabulous. I really wish I had one right now.

Ten Things Farm said...

Awesome! I made eclairs for the first time this Christmas, and I want to try the lighter filling, since I think my family might prefer it too! Quick question - do you just pipe the choux directly from the bag, no tip? I looked all over CSprings for a large enough tip, to no avail.

My next choux adventure will likely be a savory, with cheddar and garlic - doesn't that sound yum?

Thanks for your comment in my blog today too - much appreciated!

Laura at TenThingsFarm

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Laura, yes, the savor ones do sound delicious!! I'll have to try savory choux soon, too :) Yup I just piped them directly from the bag onto the tray with out a tip. Like you I don't have a large enough tip so I skipped it :) I used a size 16 pastry bag (disposable) and cut the end off & went to town. I have seen large size tips at Hobby Lobby that I've got my eyes on, they're in the cupcake decorating section :)

Ananda Rajashekar said...

This sounds so easy totally rich and creamy would love it any-time!

Applesauce Inn Bed & Breakfast said...

Yummmmmm! These look amazing! New follower hope you will stop by and say hello
Applesauce Inn Bed and Breakfast

vincent said...


We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
We would like to add it to the

We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
enjoy your recipes.

Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
and benefit from their exposure on

To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use or just go to and click on "Add your site"

Best regards,


Ten Things Farm said...

Ooh, I'll have to check Hobby Lobby (possibly the one store I didn't think of!) for the big pastry tips. Even though I know I don't need them, now it's just a battle of wills to find them...or something like that. Thank you for the tip! (pun intended)

By the way...I didn't have any trouble stirring up my choux pastry with a wooden spoon. It wasn't bad at all! Maybe it's all those bales of straw and sacks of feed I'm always carrying.

Angie's Recipes said...

I love love love chocolate eclairs! Maybe I should make some for myself this weekend.

The Blue Faerie said...

How do you have the TIME to make all this stuff!? I mean, the eclairs look awesome, don't get me wrong it's just... HOW!? I tend to get a new recipe in about once a week or every two weeks. That's about all I can muster. You must have the household speed of Hestia. :P

Ann Minard said...

Wow, we both made kind of the same thing! My next adventure is eclairs, any tips???!!!

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Nice work!!! Those look fantastic!

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

Christine G. said...

Hi -- just wanted to say hello. i stopped in to find the definition of pate au choux for our tuesday trivia at our cooking school (it is summer camp french cooking week).

feel free to come visit and be our friend. I was going to link over to this entry when people give their answers as you've got the definition. we're Create a Cook in newton ma... and on FB we are

great blog - i also enjoyed your failures blog. so many chefs won't admit they make mistakes. you haven't updated that one in a long time so i do hope that your cheffing is nothing but successful as of late!


Related Posts with Thumbnails