Birthday Chocolate Eclairs

Birthday Chocolate Eclairs are classic chocolate eclairs filled with luscious pastry cream, topped with chocolate ganache and funfetti sprinkles.  Forget the cake and celebrate eclair-style!

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I did it….I got older again.  Actually, my birthday is tomorrow, but we all celebrate all week, and even all month, don’t we? 🙂  When we get a lot older, it’s what we live for.  On my actual birthday I normally like German chocolate cake like last year’s German chocolate cake roll, but this year I decided to do something completely different and go for one of my favorite treats, the infamous chocolate eclair.  Crisp pate a choux pastry, filled with luscious pastry cream, topped with chocolate ganache…yes, please.   And with sprinkles!  It is a birthday, after all.

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Yes, please, indeed.  I made these a few days ago and posted my How to Make Pate a Choux post this week as well, so please refer to that for the easy step by step tutorial and recipe for the dough.  This recipe here covers how to make insanely delicious pastry cream that you’ll just want to eat out of the bowl, pipe your eclairs, and top them with ganache and sprinkles, so you can get to celebrating eclair-style, too.

When making eclairs, the best thing to do is make your pastry cream first because the longer it has to chill, the better.  Plus, I like to break things up into steps so I don’t feel inundated.  I love making my pastry cream and ganache the day before, then just making the pastry and assembling the eclairs the day of.  It just makes life so much more manageable. 🙂

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I think pastry cream is one of the world’s best things, and it’s underrated.  Not only is it great in these eclairs, but it makes a fabulous filling for tarts, cupcakes, layer cakes, trifles, you name it.  Knowing how to make a great pastry cream is a lifesaver in the dessert world because it can take your dessert to the next level and above.  In fact, I made my eclairs quite dainty — about 3″ long instead of 4-5″ — and cut them in half so I could pipe in plenty of pastry cream.  Not so dainty anymore!  Priorities. 🙂

Let’s get on with the pastry cream, shall we?

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First, you whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until combined.  Add the flour, and whisk it again until incorporated.

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Next, get your milk heating on the stove top over medium heat.  This is called scalding, and you don’t want to boil it.  Once you see steam rising off the top and bubbles around the edges and a film beginning to form on the top, the milk is hot enough.

Take the hot milk and pour just a bit — about a tablespoon or two, into the egg-sugar-flour mixture while whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  If you add too much hot liquid at once, you’ll scramble the eggs.  Add a little at a time and keep on whisking until about half of the mixture has been incorporated, then add the rest of the milk all at once and whisk.  Place the mixture back in the saucepan.

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Place the saucepan back over the stove top and heat over medium heat whisking constantly, and bring to a boil, about 8-10 minutes.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks, and once it comes to a boil, continue to cook and whisk one more minute.  Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and softened butter.

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Pour the pastry cream into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl placed in an ice bath.  It’s a good idea to have this all set up beforehand so you can strain the pastry cream as soon as it’s done cooking to remove any lumps.  Place a sheet of buttered wax paper over the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Once it’s cooled down at room temperature, remove from the ice bath and continue chilling in the fridge until set, and even over night.

That’s it!  Once you get the hang of pastry cream, it goes really quick. 🙂

I’m sorry I don’t have any photos piping my eclairs, but as I mentioned in my How to Make Pate a Choux post, create a template by drawing rectangles 1″ wide x 3″ long.   Pipe them with a 1/2″ round tip with 2″ or so in between, which results in (2) baking sheets with 10 eclairs each.

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It’s up to you whether you’d like to pipe the pastry cream inside by inserting a small round piping tip into the pastry, or cut them in half like I did here and pipe the pastry cream into the shells with a decorative tip (I used 1M).  Just remember not to put the top on the eclair until you’ve dipped it into the ganache!  That would be really hard to do assembled, or you’ll just have to spread the ganache on top with an offset spatula.

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I was in a hurry when I decorated these so I could take photos before picking up my kids, and my ganache was a little thicker than I would’ve liked.  It’s much easier to glaze when it’s thinner, but no matter…I definitely don’t work in a French bakery, and I’m not being graded like I was in cooking school anymore.  Whew!

I really enjoyed making these Birthday Chocolate Eclairs for myself (and my family) to celebrate my birthday early.  And now I get cake on my actual birthday…see how that works?  Celebrating early definitely has its advantages.

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And speaking of advantages — it may be my birthday here, but you get to take advantage of a big giveaway for a chance to win a $500 Amazon gift card!  Now that’s a lot of shopping. 🙂

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This giveaway was made possible by myself and the following fabulous bloggers:

American Heritage Cooking * Floating Kitchen * Food Faith Fitness

Inspiration Kitchen * Life, Love, & Sugar * Mariah’s Pleasing Plates

Pumpkin ‘N Spice * Savory Nothings * She Likes Food

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Enter using the rafflecopter below, and remember, the more bloggers you follow, the better your chances  to win.  Good luck!

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Birthday Chocolate Eclairs {and a $500 Amazon Giveaway!}
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Birthday Chocolate Eclairs are classic eclairs filled with a luscious pastry cream, topped with chocolate ganache, and sprinkles. Forget the cake and celebrate eclair style!
Author:
Serves: (20) 3" eclairs
Ingredients
Pastry Cream:
  • 2 cups whole milk*
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons flour (or cornstarch for gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
  • 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
Instructions
Prepare the pastry cream:
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice, and enough water to fill the bowl halfway. Place a medium bowl in it with a fine mesh strainer nearby along with a piece of buttered wax paper. Set aside.
  2. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium low heat until just before it begins to boil.
  3. While the milk heats, place the sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until well incorporated. Add the flour and whisk vigorously until smooth. When the milk is hot enough, add a few tablespoons of it to the egg mixture while whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Add ⅓ of the mixture in a slow steady stream while whisking constantly. Once ⅓ has been added, add the rest all at once while whisking constantly until combined.
  4. Place the mixture back in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, until the mixture begins to boil, about 8-10 minutes. Continue to cook for another minute until very thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and softened butter, then place in the strainer over the bowl set over the ice bath and strain to remove any lumps or bits of egg. Cover the pastry cream with the buttered wax paper to prevent a skin from forming and allow to cool at room temperature. Once cooled, remove from the ice bath and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. For best results, make in advance and store in the fridge for 4-6 hours or overnight.
Prepare the ganache:
  1. Place the chocolate chips, heavy cream, and corn syrup in a heat proof bowl. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large sauté pan halfway full of water and heat over medium heat until the water simmers. Turn the heat down to low, then place the bowl of chocolate into the water in the sauté pan, stirring constantly with a rubber scraper until the chocolate melts and emulsifies with the cream. When the mixture is smooth, remove from heat and set aside to cool. May be made in advance and reheated until it reaches the desired consistency (a thinner consistency is best for dipping).
  3. (1) batch of Pate a choux, recipe link in Notes.
Assemble the eclairs:
  1. Place the pastry cream in a piping bag fitted with a round tip if inserting the cream into the eclairs, or cut the eclairs in half lengthwise and pipe into the bottom of the eclair with a decorative tip (I used Wilton 1M).
  2. Heat the chocolate ganache to thin it out, if necessary, and dip the tops of the eclairs into the chocolate, gently shaking off any excess chocolate. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the funfetti sprinkles, and set aside to set briefly. Repeat with all of the eclairs.
  3. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
Pate a Choux Recipe & Tutorial
Cook time and prep time includes making the pate a choux, pastry cream, and ganache. It does not include chilling time for the pastry cream.
*To lighten up the pastry cream, you can use half skim milk and half whole milk, and it will still be rich and creamy.
*I added corn syrup to the ganache, which makes it nice and glossy. It can easily be omitted if you prefer not to use it.
Eclairs are best assembled and eaten the day they're made, but will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Recipes by Flavor the Moments.

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