Daring Bakers: Eclairs with Flair


When you visit France, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the astonishing variety and abundance of gorgeous pastries everywhere – it seems like there are patisseries on nearly every street corner, all filled with enticing cakes and tarts of every color and flavor. Even with all this sweet tooth overload, I can still remember the eclairs standing out to my eyes – I'd always thought eclairs came in one color and flavor but Paris' pastry chefs proved me totally wrong. Much like macarons, eclairs seemed to have become a sort of springboard for pastry chefs' creativity, and I saw eclairs in all sorts of flavors and colors.


Here are some in dark chocolate, white chocolate, and cappuccino flavors.


Some beautiful cherry blossom eclairs from Fauchon, one of Paris' biggest and most famous patisseries.


There's nothing plain or boring about a classic eclair when it comes from Fauchon – look how gorgeous it is!


Finally, I'm not 100% sure these are eclairs but they're too cute not to include – the sweetest little piggies!


So with memories of Paris floating in my head I was excited to take Pierre Hermé's not-so-ordinary-either chocolate eclair recipe and see what variations I could come up with for Daring Bakers. The nice thing about eclairs is that although they may look intimidating to make, they're actually one of the simplest pastries to recreate in the home kitchen, which makes experimenting all the easier – and fun.

For my eclairs I went with the classic Vanilla Pastry Cream filling, along with some strawberries on top; a Chocolate Pastry Cream with Candied Orange Peel, and Matcha Pastry Cream with Black Sesame. Sweet, rich, or exotic: take your pick! The Vanilla Pastry Cream is also from Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Desserts book, and I made the Matcha Pastry Cream by adding some matcha powder to the vanilla pastry cream and lightening it up with some whipped cream. A few more varieties and I might have enough to fill a pastry shop window! Thanks to Meeta and Tony for providing a great Daring Bakers Challenge this month!


Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with
waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.
Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.
Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.
The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the
handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the
oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue
baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking
time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added t he first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.  In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled.  Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it  remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104  F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly.  Then reduce the heat  to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.


  1. 2


    Gorgeous photos. Thanks for including the Fauchon shots. I didn’t get there when I was in Paris last fall, but I did visit one of Herme’s places. I was not disappointed. There are a few photos of that on mine.

  2. 3


    Gorgeous photos. Thanks for posting the ones from Fauchon. I didn’t get there when I was in Paris, but I did visit one of Herme’s shops. I was not disappointed. There are a few photos of that on my blog.

  3. 5


    These look beautiful! I loved looking at all the pictures of eclairs. I want to go to Paris someday and visit all the bakeries!

  4. 9


    They’re beautiful!! I love how you tried different pastry cream flavors. *And,* those pictures of French pastries are so delightful…especially the cherry blossom eclairs and the adorable piglets!

  5. 15


    Absolutely beautiful! And you know, it occurs to me that I haven’t had eclairs since… well, it must be about 10 years since I had one. How the heck did that happen??! Goodness. Must rectify that.


  6. 16


    Your Eclairs look perfect and very pretty! Scrumptious too! Great job, as usual…

    Thanks for the interesting pictures!



  7. 23


    Your eclairs looked beautifully dolled up! Awesome combos with perfect details. Love the ones with macha and black sesame! Had made a batch of macha eclairs too! But yours look wonderfully good and yummy! :)

  8. 28


    If only I could put my hand on the rest of my matcha I would so make a variation like that. I have an inkling by looking at the puppy’s paws that he found the bag on the lower shelf…drat!
    Looks fantastic as always!

  9. 29


    I’ve never imagined that eclairs can be so versatile!! I especially love the cherry blossom ones!! I see you’ve had more success with Pierre Herme’s chocolate glaze more than I have; mine turned out dull when it cools down…sigh…just my luck i guess. Should’ve stuck to my tried and true choc ganache recipe. Beautiful eclairs!!

  10. 30

    Verena says

    I’m not a choux pastry person but your eclairs look stunning! The matcha ones remind me of Sadaharu Aoki’s creations. Somehow I just never got my eclairs to look “right” back in pastry school.

  11. 32


    Congratulations for your beautiful éclairs and thank you, you put a smile on my face with those cute cochons…. :-)))

  12. 33


    i could not wait to see your creations and ides. i knew there would be matcha in there somewhere lol! anita – they look great!

  13. 34


    eclairs (the chocolate ones) are one of my favourite pastries. I wish I was able to make them.
    Yours look gorgeous, fantastic job !

  14. 35


    yummy and beautifully presented! I would love someday to have the same flair that you have! Well done on the challenge!

  15. 36


    these look so nice. I m really impressed by all the different ecliars there are. You only have to be a bit creative :-) Nice job

  16. 42


    The chocolate-orange ones sound amazing! That is definitely my favorite flavor combination, yours look fantastic.

  17. 45


    Love the bakery-shop window photos! They add such a “completeness” to your entry. :)

    I’m sure you’re showing your bf the pix I have on FB too? Some good ones there (if I do say so…) If you’d ever like to meet her/us just let me know when you’re in the 650/408? She LOOOVES people.

    Take care Anita!

  18. 46


    Thank you for sharing those eclair photos. I love the cherry blossom one. Your own eclairs look pretty perfect too! Makes me wish I’d tried decorating mine a little more creatively.

  19. 47


    I love your take on this classic. Matcha …. yum! I thought about doing the same, but did not have time to experiment. Brilliant photos as well.

  20. 50


    Your eclairs look nice enough to display along with the ones from France. The matcha cream is the most unique I’ve seen to date. Very nice.

  21. 52


    Nice job on your eclairs and I love your blog. Your pictures are beautiful and you write so well. I will be coming back often.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>