Spiced Eclairs with Cinnamon Cream and Chocolate Glaze

Often, I talk about how easy things are. I’m sure that sometimes you might doubt me, and I honestly don’t blame you…baking can be daunting. I’m always honest, though. Everything I put on Bakingdom is either already easy to make, or can be made even easier (and I try to include the steps to do so). I say all this because I really don’t want you to doubt me on this:

Eclairs are easy to make.

I know, I know. It sounds insane, but I mean it! They’re not difficult at all!

I’ve been intimidated by Eclairs and Cream Puffs for many years. I mean, everything about the way they look is scary. Even the “real” name of the batter used to make them is scary: pÃ¥te à choux. Really? I was sure I’d never be able to make them. But I was wrong. I made them for the first time several weeks ago, and they turned out so perfect and beautiful! I have made them a few times since then, and each attempt has been wonderful! Trust me when I say: eclairs are easy! Yay! I love saying that!!

Admittedly, they are somewhat time consuming, but only somewhat. There’s three components to them: the pastries themselves, the pastry cream (filling), and the glaze. Fortunately, each of the components is simple to make. Here are what I think are the pros and cons to making these, just in case you can’t decide…

Pros:

  • The various components for these can all be made ahead of time. The eclairs can be frozen for several weeks. When you’re ready to use them, just place them in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes to re-crisp them. And the pastry cream can be refrigerated for a day or two before use, just bring to room temperature before using.
  • They’re a seemingly fancy, difficult looking dessert that really impresses, with little effort, because they’re actually easy.

Cons:

  • They’re only good for a day or two, as the cream begins to soak into the pastry and make it soggy.
  • They’re so tasty, you’ll eat way too many!

Now that you know that, I’m sure you want to proceed, right?

The first step is to make the eclairs themselves. This is the PÃ¥te à Choux. Don’t let the fancy schmancy name intimidate you, these have to be the easiest pastries to make! All you need is cinnamon, sugar, unsalted butter (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), all-purpose flour, water…

…and eggs.

An easy way to cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces: use a sharp knife to cut the cold stick of butter in half lengthwise. Turn the stick on it’s side and cut it in half lengthwise again. Now cut the quarters into 1/2-inch chunks.

In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, combine the butter, water, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is evenly melted. Once the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour, stirring well with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.

Return the pan to the heat and cook, while stirring, for another minute. There will be a fine film of dough on the bottom of the pan (pictured above).

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed for about a minute to cool it. In a small bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs in three additions, mixing well between each addition. Once all of the eggs are added, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture thoroughly.

At this point, the batter should pass the “string test.” Pinch a small amount of batter between your thumb and fore or middle finger, then pull apart. The batter should stretch into an elastic string. If it doesn’t, beat another egg in a small bowl and slowly add a little bit at a time until the batter passes the string test.

Now it’s time to pipe the eclairs. I always have fun with this step! Line your baking sheet with Silpat mats or parchment paper and fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the pÃ¥te à choux. A lot of cookbooks and recipes that I have tried recommend piping the eclairs like the ones in the pictures. Basically, they direct you to draw a rectangle with the batter. I have found, however, that this doesn’t make the best eclair (you’ll see why in a minute).

Instead, I’ve found that piping a straight line of batter, about four inches long, one inch wide, and about half an inch high makes a perfect eclair every time!

I also like to make cute mini eclairs that are about two inches long. Lightly brush all of the piped eclairs with a small amount of beaten egg, being careful not to use too much or let it run down the sides.

Bake the eclairs at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 20 minutes. Finally, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more, until the eclairs are golden brown. Transfer the eclairs to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool before filling and glazing.

Aren’t the minis adorable?! They’re definitely my favorite!

Now to mix up the pastry cream. All you need is all-purpose flour, sugar, whole milk, a whole egg, two egg yolks, vanilla, unsalted butter, and cinnamon.

In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, bring the milk just to a boil, remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and cinnamon until combined. Thoroughly whisk in the flour until the mixture is smooth. In a slow, steady stream, and whisking constantly, add about half of the milk to the egg mixture. Once thoroughly combined, slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining milk and whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gently bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about a minute to thicken (it will be the consistency of thick pudding). Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl.

Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic to the surface of the cream. Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes, or until it is room temperature or slightly cooler.

Filling eclairs is a snap. Just fit a pastry bag with a Wilton #7 tip (or comparable) and fill with the cream.

Press the pastry tip into the bottom of the eclair, about one inch from one end, and squeeze the cream into the eclair until you feel it push back against the tip. Repeat the step at the opposite end of the eclair until the cream just starts to come out of the other hole.

This picture illustrates why I like to pipe a straight line of pastry batter rather than the rectangle the cookbooks tend to recommend. As you can see the bottom of this eclair, which was piped as a rectangle, is caved in. It also cracks and breaks when I try to fill the eclairs. As opposed to the previous photo, where the eclair has a smooth, firm base that holds up to the pressure of filling. Also, I was able to fill the “straight line eclairs” with about twice as much cream as these other eclairs could hold. So, again, I highly recommend simply piping a straight line of pastry to make the eclairs.

The mini eclairs have a great base too, so they fill like the larger eclairs, but you can just press the tip in the center of them once, instead of a hole at each end.

For the coup de grace, we’re going to dip these in a smooth chocolate glaze! All you need is a little high quality milk chocolate and heavy cream. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, gently bring the cream to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until thoroughly combined. That’s it. Let the glaze cool for 10 minutes before dipping the eclairs.

Gripping the filled eclair by it’s base, gently dip the top half of the eclair into the glaze and allow the excess to drip off before returning it to the cooling rack or cool baking sheet. Allow the glaze to dry for at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

These were really wonderful! The cinnamon in the pastries and the cream was mild, but flavorful, and it was complimented perfectly by the chocolate glaze. They weren’t cloyingly sweet, but were still a satisfying dessert. I love that I didn’t feel the urge to visit a dentist or start a new diet plan after having just one. That’s not to say that these are particularly healthy…they’re not, but they don’t feel as heavy and super rich as many other desserts do, and still, they taste incredible. Of course, that also makes it a little too easy to overindulge!!

Isn’t this little mini eclair just about the sweetest thing?! And you’ll never guess what we ended up using them for… Ice cream!! They were fantastic on top of a couple of scoops of fresh, homemade ice cream! Absolutely irresistible! These were the fastest and easiest of the eclairs to make (although only slightly), and they were the perfect tiny snack, or special addition to a frozen treat. I can hardly wait to make them again!

I love discovering that I can do something I was scared of before. Even more, I love discovering that I can do it with only a little effort! This is yet another dessert that people will think you dedicated hours to, and you know better! They’re great as an after meal dessert, or perfect for a special, slightly decadent breakfast. Either way, pair them with a hot espresso and enjoy!

Spiced Eclairs with Cinnamon Cream and Chocolate Glaze
Makes about 20 eclairs
Ingredients

FOR THE ECLAIRS
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

FOR THE PASTRY CREAM
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE GLAZE
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces high quality milk chocolate

To make the eclairs: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, combine the butter, water, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is evenly melted. Once the butter is melted, bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and add the flour, stirring well with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.

Return the pan to the heat and cook, while stirring, for another minute. There will be a fine film of dough on the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed for about a minute to cool it. In a small bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs in three additions, mixing well between each addition. Once all of the eggs are added, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture thoroughly.

At this point, the batter should pass the “string test.” Pinch a small amount of batter between your thumb and fore- or middle finger, then pull apart. The batter should stretch into an elastic string. If it doesn’t, beat another egg in a small bowl and slowly add a little bit at a time until the batter passes the string test.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the påte à choux. Pipe straight lines of batter about 4-inches long, by 1-inch wide, by 1/2-inch high onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each one.

Bake the eclairs for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 20 minutes. Finally, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more, until the eclairs are golden brown. Transfer the eclairs to a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool before filling and glazing.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, bring the milk just to a boil, remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and cinnamon until combined. Thoroughly whisk in the flour until the mixture is smooth. In a slow, steady stream, and whisking constantly, add about half of the milk into the egg mixture. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining milk and whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about a minute to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl.

Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic to the surface of the cream. Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator and chill for about 30 minutes, or until it is room temperature or slightly cooler.

Fill the eclairs: Fit a pastry bag with a Wilton #7 tip (or comparable) and fill the bag with the cream. Press the pastry tip into the bottom of the eclair, about 1-inch from one end, and squeeze the cream into the eclair until you feel it push back against the tip. Repeat the step at the opposite end of the eclair until the cream just starts to come out of the other hole. See illustration above, if necessary.

To make the glaze: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, gently bring the cream to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until thoroughly combined. Let the glaze cool for 10 minutes before dipping the eclairs.

Gripping the filled eclair by it’s base, gently dip the top half of the eclairs into the glaze and allow the excess to drip off before returning the eclairs to the cooling racks or cool baking sheets. Allow the glaze to dry for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking

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Comments

  1. says

    I made these a few weeks ago, and I was really nervous about them as well. But they were far easier than I expected. Except I didn’t think to pipe them and the dough is very sticky and difficult to shape by hand.

  2. Cobalt&Calcium says

    Oh dear, what are you doing to me!
    I couldn’t stop eating these, they’re absolutely delicious :D
    One thing though, I did as you recommended and piped the pastry in straight lines but the bottom wasn’t nice and flat but a bit hollow and they were a bit sticky too pick up after baking too.
    Perhaps I needed to add more flour?
    Anyway, thanks for posting this as even my partner likes it (who I suspect of having only 2 tastebuds)!

  3. says

    This recipe sounds great! I’ve been looking for a pastry recipe to recreate a snack my mom used to eat in Mexico as a child and I think this spiced eclair with cinnamon cream recipe might be the one. She remembers what the snack was called, but I have yet to find a recipe. Though, this one sounds similar to what she describes so I’m going to try making these later today, or some time this week.

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