These chocolate salted caramel eclairs are luxurious, decadent, but somehow light and refreshing all at once. From the crisp eclair shells to the silky caramel filling and the chocolate ganache, these pastries are a combination of amazing flavor and texture. Read below for the recipe.
French Patisserie 101: Part 4
Welcome to Part 4 of French Patisserie 101. How are your choux pastry skills coming along? Have you made chouquettes and classic eclairs yet?
The world of pastries is so much fun, and quite delicious! Mastering choux pastry takes some time and effort if you want to achieve patisserie style desserts, but that’s what I’m here for! I’m here to help you on your journey in the pastry world.
From someone who has made a LOT of choux, it takes time a patience to get that really high end look.
But I do have to say that it’s pretty easy to make eclairs and choux pastries if you aren’t trying to achieve that patisserie look. Sure, there may be some flaws aesthetically, but they will still taste great no matter what!
If you haven’t checked out the first three parts of French Patisserie 101, I highly recommend take a brief look at part 1 in particular as it is the main introduction to choux pastries, common issues, fixes, etc.
You can find first three parts of this series below:
What’s in Chocolate Caramel Eclairs?
These chocolate caramel eclairs consist of eclair paste (aka pate a choux), caramel pastry cream, a thin layer of caramel, and chocolate ganache.
Caramel pastry cream, also known as creme patissiere, is almost identical to traditional pastry cream. The main difference is that we caramelize the sugar for caramel pastry cream, whereas we do not for vanilla pastry cream.
Each of the components can be made a few days ahead if needed too. It makes assembling the eclairs quite fast if you have everything prepped and ready, so I recommend working ahead if possible.
How to Keep Eclairs Crisp
If you choose to make the eclair shells ahead of time, they will soften after just one day. Whether they have been stored for one day or a few days, the trick to crisping them back up is the same.
To crisp the shells again, preheat your oven to 300 degrees and bake the eclairs for 10 minutes. This will give them that nice firm structure they need to support the pastry cream.
3 Tips for Making Professional Looking Eclairs
- First, making the eclairs the same exact length and width is super important for achieving high end eclairs. If the eclairs are piped unevenly, it will most definitely show after baking. The eclairs may have more bulbous ends or wavy mid-sections when piped unevenly.
The key to piping the eclairs is both practice and using even pressure while squeezing the piping bag. We also use a different technique for piping the eclairs that helps to produce consistent eclairs. See the section below on piping eclairs.
- Second, pipe the filling with a star tip (I use this tip), and be sure to fill the base of the eclair quite full so that you can see the design after adding the eclair top.
I always practice a few designs on parchment before filling the eclairs to make sure that I have my design and technique prepared. This helps with creating a consistent look
- Third, keep the chocolate ganache glaze slightly warm so that it is more fluid and easier to work with. If the ganache cools, it will be very difficult to dip the eclair shells into the ganache. The eclairs have bits of clumpy chocolate on them instead of a smooth and shiny glaze.
How to Pipe Eclairs
For these chocolate salted caramel eclairs, we are using a different piping technique compared to the one we used for classic French eclairs.
I recommend trying both methods and seeing which one works best for you. I saw this second method on Pastry Arts Mag, and it really works well.
- For this recipe, we first need to line a half sheet pan with a silpat mat. I choose silpat over parchment because parchment is more likely to wrinkle and become uneven from the moisture of the eclair paste.
- Next, use this French star tip to pipe the eclairs. Instead of piping each one individually, pipe the eclairs length wise from one end of the pan to the other to create pan length eclairs. This is a great method for practicing and creating even shells.
- After piping all of the eclair strips, pop the pan into the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until eclairs are frozen. Remove them from the freezer. Gently pull the frozen strips off of the silpat, and place them on a cutting board.
- Use a ruler to measure the eclairs at 5 inches long, and then cut them with a serrated knife. Then place them on the half sheet pan and bake.
Just remember that it’s all about practice. Even when I pipe the eclairs in strips, I sometimes redo a row if I can see any areas that are too thin or thick. It’s really easy to scrape the choux dough back into the bag and try again.
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Chocolate and Salted Caramel Eclairs
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Chill Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 20 1x
- Category: pastries
For the Eclair Paste
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 tsp powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4–5 eggs
- 1 cup bread flour
For the Caramel Pastry Cream (Caramel Creme Patissiere)
- 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 28 g (2 Tbs) unsalted butter
- 415 g (1 3/4 cups) whole milk
- 2 g (1/2 tsp) fleur de sel
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 21 g (1 Tbs) granulated sugar
- 30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
- 4 g (1 tsp) vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- 114 g (4 oz) finely chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate
- 118 ml (4 oz) whole milk
- 20 g (1 Tbs) light corn syrup
For the Caramel
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 28 g (2 Tbs) unsalted butter, European style
- 70 g heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
To Make the Eclair Paste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large medium sized pot, add water, milk, butter, salt, and powdered sugar. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a boil.
- As soon as the mixture starts to boil, remove from heat, add flour, and stir quickly. Return pot to heat and cook for 2 more minutes on medium heat to remove flour taste, stirring constantly.
- Remove dough from heat and pour dough into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Turn the mixer onto low and mix for 3 minutes to begin cooling down the dough.
- Turn the mixer up to a 3 on a 10 speed mixer, scramble the eggs with a fork, and begin adding them a little at a time. The pate a choux may curdle a little with each addition, but the dough will come back together. You know you’ve added enough egg when you can draw a line in the dough and it slowly sinks back in.
- Draw 4 or 5 inch lines (with pencil) on parchment paper, spaced 2 inches apart. Flip the paper over pencil side down on a rimmed sheet tray. Pipe the eclairs using a piping bag and Wilton 8B french star tip. If you are having difficulty breaking away from each eclair, use scissors to cut the dough for a clean stop.
- Spritz eclairs with water and dust lightly with powdered sugar.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. Eclairs should be very golden brown all around and firm to the touch.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack, about 1 hour.
To Make the Caramel Pastry Cream
- Whisk 21 g (1 Tbs) sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the sugar on medium-low to medium heat without stirring.
- To prevent any sugar crystals from staying on the side of the pan, dip a pastry brush in water and wash down the sides of the pan to dissolve any sugar crystals if needed.
- Swirl the caramel in the pan as it melts, or use a spoon to gently mix the remaining granules into the caramel. Add the butter once the caramel is the color of a **brown paper bag, and stir.
- Next, add the salt and then the milk a little at a time, whisking rapidly so that the caramel doesn’t seize. If the caramel seizes, add all of the milk and let the mixture cook for a few minutes until the caramel dissolves again.
- Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, and whisk the eggs continuously to temper the eggs.
- Return the mixture back to the pot and whisk on medium heat until the pastry cream comes to a boil. Whisk for one more minute, then remove from the heat.
- Pour the pastry cream through a strainer into a clean bowl just in case any bits of egg scrambled. Take a piece of cling film and lay it directly on top of the pastry cream. Be sure to seal the cling film smoothly across the caramel pastry cream all the way to the edges of the bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before using.
To Make the Caramel Sauce (optional)
- In a large, heavy bottom sauce pan, heat the sugar on medium-low to medium heat. Do not stir too often, but instead let the sugar begin to melt. Once it begins to melt, stir occasionally.
- To prevent any sugar crystals from staying on the side of the pan, dip a pastry brush in water and wash down the sides of the pan to dissolve any sugar crystals that remain.
- If any of the sugar crystals make it into the caramel after the caramel is made, then it can cause the caramel to become grainy and unpleasant!
- Swirl the caramel in the pan as it melts. Add the butter once the caramel is the color of a **brown paper bag, and stir at this point.
- Next, add the salt and the heavy cream, whisking rapidly as the cream goes into the caramel.
- Strain the caramel just in case there are any seized caramel bits that won’t melt down. Place in the fridge to cool for 15-20 minutes.
To Make the Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- Bring heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat.
- Place chocolate and corn syrup in a medium bowl, and pour hot cream over the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to sit for 3-5 minutes, and then gently whisk the cream and melted chocolate together. Do not over whisk, as this can “break” the ganache, making it no longer smooth and creamy.
To Assemble the Eclairs
- Cut each eclair in half length wise. Pipe a thin layer of caramel in the bottom of each eclair shell if using the caramel sauce.
- Next, pipe the pastry cream into the bottom half of each shell until full.
- Next, take the top of each eclair, dip in the chocolate glaze, and place on top of the filled eclairs. Add gold dust, gold leave, or chocolate designs if desired.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week. Eclairs are best eaten within the first day when they are still crisp.
Keywords: chocolate salted caramel eclairs, creme patissiere, caramel pastry cream, chocolate ganache glaze