Love and Olive Oil

April Kitchen Challenge: Eclairs

April Kitchen Challenge: Eclairs

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the Kitchen Challenge. In March 2013 I officially launched this new series, aimed at getting cooks out of their comfort zone and into the kitchen. We’ve (mostly) successfully completed 9 challenges since then, and I couldn’t be prouder. You guys really stepped it up!

April Kitchen Challenge: EclairsFor this month’s challenge, we’re tackling eclairs. I am definitely looking forward to this one, because once you master the basic technique, the flavor possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with.

An eclair consists of 3 distinct parts: the pastry, the filling, and the glaze. Each has its own set of unique challenges, but overall I don’t think this challenge will be nearly as frustrating as the last one.

The Challenges:
  • Choux. The pastry dough, or Pâte à Choux, is the foundation for the success or failure of the eclair. I’ve read that you want a slightly firmer pastry for eclairs, since you will be piping them, and the dough needs to be able to support itself.
  • Piping. A piping bag and a large round tip are required tools for eclairs, plus a star tip for easy(ier) filling. The size of the tip depends on how big you want your eclairs. I found this basic set on amazon that looks like a great starter set.
  • Shape. The shape of your final eclairs is directly related to how you pipe them, so any flaws in your piping will be magnified when they puff up and bake. That’s not to say that lumpy, uneven eclairs will be any less delicious, however.
  • Filling. Pastry cream is the standard filling for eclairs, made with cream, sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and butter. You want to be sure your filling is thick enough to stay inside the eclair, and not so thin that it runs out the bottom. I’d recommend making your filling first so that it has sufficient time to chill and thicken.
Resources & Recipes:
  • I’ve found very thorough pate a choux recipes in both my Bouchon Bakery and Tartine cookbooks. They are very similar, with the exception that Tartine uses part milk, part water, and Bouchon uses all water. I’ll probably utilize one of these recipes myself.
  • America’s Test Kitchen has a basic recipe that I’d trust just as much as the two cookbooks mentioned above. The recipe is free, log in to view (for now at least – though I’d recommend saving it as it’ll probably go behind their paywall eventually).
  • Serious Eats has a great article with some Eclair-making tips, as well as a basic recipe to get you started.

Join me!

Whip up a batch of eclairs (flavor is up to you – go crazy!) by Friday, April 25th and send me a photo of your results (good or bad, the point here is to put forth your best effort). I’ll post about my experience the following week along with a roundup of everyone who tackled this challenge with me.

Submit Your Results »

The Kitchen Challenge series is simply about getting in the kitchen and challenging yourself to make something new; you aren’t required to have a blog to participate, nor are you required to post about it if you do. However, if you do have a blog and post about the challenge, you are more than welcome to use the above graphic.

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  1. I did it!!! Made them for Easter dessert, and they were so good. I’ll send a picture! 

  2. Lindsay, Chocolate Eclairs must be one of my favorite desserts.  When I was a kid, I got 50¢ allowance, and a Chocolate Eclair from the bakery down the street from the Landis Department Store was 15¢.  If I played my cards right, I could get an eclair 3 different days!  Now, I’ll go to Tartine and spend $4.50 for just one (and well worth it).  I won’t be entering the Challenge, but it you need a taster, here I am!

  3. So excited about this Challenge since I was planning on making Eclairs for Easter dessert..

  4. I am SO excited! Is the pastry cream a must or can we play around with fillings?

  5. Do cream puffs count?

  6. I’ve made cream puffs several times. They are so fun to make and actually pretty easy (in my opinion). I love that everyone looks at them as such a special treat :)

  7. Oh my goodness, just the other day I was thinking about making cream puffs for the first time, this settles it, I’m making eclairs!

  8. I used to request home made eclairs almost every year for my birthday as a kid! I’ll have to have my mom make some with for this! Thanks!

  9. I’ve been having eclairs on my to do list for a fairly long time so maybe I should just join in this challenge… Sounds like fun!

  10. I had the best chocolate eclair in Paris. Other than that, I’ve never been thrilled by them…maybe homemade is the answer? I’ll look forward to the recap at the very least!

  11. Can’t wait to jump on board for this challenge! I haven’t made them since culinary school, so it will be fun to test myself again!!

  12. So excited about this Challenge since I was planning on making Eclairs for Easter dessert ! 

  13. I think I am game for the challenge, I have never made eclairs but I love a new experience in the kitchen. : )

  14. I am so in on this!

  15. I may have to try this challenge out as I’m a big fan of anything filled with pastry cream! I’ve made cream puffs before, but never eclairs, looks like I have a reason to now!

  16. I’ve been looking for a challenge to join. And what a challenge! Eclairs have always intimidated me, but I’m looking forward to trying it out and sending in my photo!

  17. Eclairs have been on my mind for quite a while now and your latest kitchen challenge makes me crave them again. This weekend I’ll make a batch, for sure!

  18. I’m very excited about this one!! I love eclairs but always scared to attempt it. This is my chance :)

  19. Eclairs were my first love when I was a kid.  The first time I bit into one it was sublime.  I need to join this challenge.

  20. I love éclairs and am excited about making more exotic flavours than the usual coffee/chocolate ones for this challenge… In France we have many ways of using choux pastry (religieuses, acorns, Paris-Brest, chouquettes…) so making them always reminds me of my childhood.
    PS: I’ve noticed that the logo mentions April “2013”…

  21. Challenge accepted. I’ve been meaning to try making a butter-free choux dough, and this is just the incentive I need.

  22. I’ve made eclairs once a few months ago and have wanted to make them again ever since.  Sounds like I need to get in on this challenge — I’m very excited! :)

  23. I’ve had eclairs on my baking to-do list for years now. This might just be the kick in the pants I needed to finally get over my fears!

  24. I’ve never made those, but I always wanted to! I think this will be a great excuse to start :) 

  25. i actually made the choux last week for the first time. The best workout my arm has ever gotten :)

  26. I may have to get in on this action :)

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