I was beginning to think that the éclair was impossible in the United States.  Like bagels are just better in New York.  Maybe eclairs are just better left to the French.   And then I thought, no!   I’m better than that!  I will conquer these bad boys if it’s the last pastry I ever make!

I had a bit of extra time before I started dinner, and so I thought I’d see what I might do about this situation.  I didn’t even think all the way to the custard, or the ganache.  I knew these would probably be a disaster too, so no need to fill my belly with more substandard pastry.  I’d perfect the shells first.

And then something happened in that oven.  They started to rise.  And they puffed.  And they got ENORMOUS.  And then THEY DIDN’T FALL DOWN!  This process was all worth it because I think I have conquered this damn thing.   Of course, there’s always room to perfect them, but these are pretty close and I’m calling it a WIN!

I used the Ladurée: The Sweet Recipes book.  This book is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s got a velvet cover and gilded pages.  It comes in a beautiful box with perfect tissue paper.  It’s so lovely that I am afraid to use it… literally, I took pictures of the recipes and referenced my phone instead of the book for fear of a speck of dirt tarnishing it’s gorgeous pages. And if this recipe wasn’t absolutely perfect, this book would be completely useless.  The index is a joke.  The layout is a mess.  Recipes constantly reference other recipes without giving a page number or location.  A beautiful useless mess.  (But a lovely gift.  I gave this to Jess for her birthday last year and it makes us both so happy!)

So, here’s where I think I was going wrong.

1. When the choux pastry is finished cooking in the saucepan, cook it a minute longer.  And mix it with vigor (seriously, I have blisters on my hands.)  I think my previous batches were too wet and thus, too heavy.

2. Bake one sheet pan at a time, in the absolute MIDDLE of the oven.   I was baking two sheets at a time, cutting the oven in thirds.   No good.  Also, turned on the convection this time… worked nicely I think.

3. Immediately after baking, remove the pastries from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.  I always wait a minute because things are so hot… don’t.

With the perfect shells, filling them was so easy!   And they taste amazing.  Incredible.  Light & fluffy with a perfect custardy center and sweet chocolate topping.  Seriously, amazing.
Eclairs 3 0001 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 3, Third Times The Charm
Eclairs 3 0002 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 3, Third Times The Charm
Eclairs 3 0003 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 3, Third Times The Charm
Eclairs 3 0004 The Eclair Mission: Attempt 3, Third Times The Charm


Ladurée Choux Pastry

120 g Cake Flour
100 ml whole milk
100 ml water
10 g granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
80 g butter
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift the flour.  In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Incorporate the sifted flour into the hot liquid, mixing energetically with a spatula until homogenous.  Return the saucepan to low heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute to pull out the moisture from the batter, so that it forms a mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer batter to a large bowl and allow to cool.  Add the eggs one at a time, carefully incorporating each into the batter with a spatula.

When homogenous, transfer the dough to a piping bag, fitted with the 1/2 inch plain tip.  On a buttered baking sheet, pipe 5-inch strips.

Place in the oven and bake. After 8 to 10 minutes, when they have started to puff up, open the oven door very slightly, about 1/4 inch to allow steam to escape.  Bake the éclairs for approximately 30 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar, until golden. (You can slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven to keep ajar.)

Remove éclairs from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.


Dorie Greenspans Vanilla Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits, room temperature

Bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended.  Whisking without stop, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk – this will temper, or warm, the yolks – then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream.  Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil.  Keep at a boil – still whisking – for 1 to 2 minutes, then pull the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until the butter is fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky.  Scrape the cream into a bowl.  You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold, or, if you want to cool the custard quickly, put the bowl with the pastry cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.


Dorie Greenspans Ganache

3/4 cups heavy creme
3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped.

Bring cream to a boil.  Pour the hot cream into a bowl, over the finely chopped chocolate.   Wait 30 seconds, then stir gently to blend.  Chill the ganache until it thickens enough for you to spread it smoothly over the éclairs.


When the pastries have cooled, the custard is chilled and the ganache is thickened, you can assemble!  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a pointed tip with a 1/2 cup of the pastry cream. Cut four small slices into the tops of the éclairs, then fill each hole with the pastry cream.  To finish, pour the ganache over each éclair, covered the holes and any pastry cream that might have escaped.  Flatten and spread the ganache with a spatula.

I like my éclairs cold, so I store them in the fridge.  Enjoy!

2 Responses to “The Eclair Mission: Attempt 3, Third Times The Charm”

  1. Jewel says:

    aw I hope my eclairs will turn out well too. This is my third time making sad looking eclairs :( but I’ll try again soon and hopefully it will work out.

  2. Jess says:

    I’m just so proud that I’m tearing up.

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