Choux pastry, we meet again!
Today, as another option for the September Baking Challenge, I’m showing you how to make homemade eclairs with peanut butter mousse filling. Eclairs are traditionally made from choux pastry dough, pastry cream filling, and chocolate ganache on top. This delicious preparation is called eclair au chocolat in French and it’s likely the way you’ve eaten eclairs from a bakery. But why stop there? You can fill eclairs with just about anything including my favorite… peanut butter mousse. Literally a peanut butter cup in eclair form!!!
Bathing suit season is over, so let’s embrace this.
HOW TO MAKE ECLAIRS
Let’s watch the eclairs video tutorial first:
Today’s eclairs have 3 components:
- choux pastry
- peanut butter mousse filling
- chocolate ganache
I just posted the choux pastry dough recipe this week. Let’s quickly review it before moving onto the peanut butter mousse filling and chocolate ganache.
As you notice in the video tutorial, we’re using the same 7 ingredient choux pastry dough I taught you how to make earlier this week. Literally the same process– cook the first 6 ingredients on the stove, then transfer to a mixer and mix in 4 beaten eggs. Some readers have already tried the choux pastry noting that it’s worlds easier than they ever imagined!! So don’t be nervous about this French pastry!!
The difference today, however, is that we’re piping the pastry into log shapes to make eclairs instead of mound shapes to make cream puffs. To shape the eclairs, use a piping bag fitted with a any large round tip. I like using Ateco #809 piping tip. You could also use a zipped-top bag and cut off the corner for easy piping. Pipe 4-inch logs. Using a water moistened finger, smooth down any peaks/ends and lightly brush each log with egg wash.
In the photo above, notice how the parchment paper is wet? That’s a very important step. Why? Think of cheesecake. We bake cheesecakes in a water bath. Cheesecake, like choux pastry, is egg-heavy. Eggs need a moist and humid environment in the oven to (1) properly rise and (2) avoid drying out and burning.
Water moistened parchment paper = perfectly puffed up pastries with a deliciously light center and crisp exterior. Pastry perfection.
Two more components before we can assemble our eclairs. The great news is that both can be prepped ahead of time. Wouldn’t it be terrible for our diets, I mean awesome, to always have peanut butter mousse and chocolate ganache at the ready?
PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
After the eclair shells bake and cool, fill with peanut butter mousse. First, whip some heavy cream. Set that aside, then mix cream cheese, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract together. Then, fold in the whipped cream.
This stuff is pure gold. It’s light and fluffy, rich and decadent. The whipped cream = light and fluffy. The cream cheese peanut butter = rich and decadent.
It’s sweet, so I suggest giving it a taste test and adding a pinch of salt if desired.
Two ingredients: heavy cream and chocolate.
Heavy cream is also used to make the peanut butter mousse, so this is convenient! Just buy a pint of it: 1 cup for the peanut butter mousse, 1 cup for the ganache. Pick up two 4 ounce bars of chocolate from the baking aisle and combine it with the warm cream. That’s it, ganache topping is done.
You can use white chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate. As long as you stick to 1 cup of heavy cream and 8 ounces of real chocolate, you’ve got ganache!
Eclair assembly line, let’s go!
Using a toothpick, prick a hole in 1 end of the eclair shell. Transfer the peanut butter mousse to a piping bag fitted with a small-ish round or open star piping tip. I suggest Wilton piping round tip 12, which is wide enough for the mousse to pipe out, but you can still nudge it inside the eclair. Don’t have a piping tip for this? Don’t worry about it. Slice the eclair in half horizontally. Sandwich mousse inside. Easy.
Finally, let each filled eclair take a nice dip in the chocolate ganache topping.
If eclairs have been on your baking bucket list, now’s the time. No excuses. If you stick with a quality choux recipe and method, there’s a million ways to successfully make eclairs at home.
Alternate Eclair Flavors!
- Lemon: fill with lemon curd, top with lemon glaze
- Blackberry: fill with blackberry cream cheese filling, top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar
- Maple: fill with whipped cream (use 2 Tbsp maple syrup instead of confectioners’ sugar), top with maple glaze
- Salted Caramel: fill with whipped cream, top with salted caramel
- Pumpkin: fill with pumpkin cream cheese filling, top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or brown butter icing
- Raspberry: fill with raspberry jam, top with vanilla icing or a dusting of confectioners’ sugar
- Nutella: Swap peanut butter for Nutella in the mousse recipe below
- Mocha: fill with mocha whipped cream, top with chocolate ganache recipe below. For mocha whipped cream, add 1 teaspoon espresso powder to homemade whipped cream.
Which will you try first?!
Using a simple homemade choux pastry (pâte à choux), you can create delicious French pastries like these chocolate peanut butter eclairs!
- 1 batch choux pastry
- egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk or water
Peanut Butter Mousse
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
- 8 ounces (224g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (130g) creamy peanut butter*
- salt, to taste
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
- two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars (226g), finely chopped
- Prepare the choux pastry dough recipe through step 4. You can use the choux pastry dough immediately for the eclairs or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly brush the parchment with water, which creates a humid environment for the pastry shells allowing them to puff up without drying out or burning.
- Transfer choux pastry dough to a piping bag fitted with a Ateco #809 piping tip. Pipe 4-inch logs 3 inches apart. Watch the video in the blog post above for a visual. You can also use a zipped-top bag and cut off the corner for easy piping. Using a water moistened finger, smooth down any peaks or ends, then lightly brush each log with egg wash.
- Bake for 20 minutes then, keeping the pastries in the oven, reduce oven to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for 10-15 more minutes until golden brown. Do not open the oven as the pastries cook, as cool air will prevent them from properly puffing up. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before filling.
- Make the peanut butter mousse: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Temporarily transfer to another mixing bowl. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and peanut butter then beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream until combined. Taste. Stir in a pinch of salt, if desired. Transfer mousse to a piping bag fitted with a small-ish round or open star piping tip. I suggest Wilton piping round tip 12, which is wide enough for the mousse to pipe out, but you can still nudge it inside the eclair. Set aside as you make the ganache.
- Make the chocolate ganache: Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted.
- Assemble the eclairs: Use a toothpick to prick a hole in 1 end of each eclair shell. The peanut butter mousse piping tip is larger than this hole, but you should still be able to nudge the piping tip inside. Carefully pipe mousse into each eclair shell, stopping when it feels full. Pipe the mousse from both ends of the eclair if you notice it’s not reaching the other end. (Don’t have a piping tip for this? Slice the eclair in half horizontally, then sandwich peanut butter mousse inside.) Dip the top of each into chocolate ganache and place on a serving plate or cooling rack until ready to serve. Chocolate ganache topping sets in about an hour at room temperature or in about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Cover and store leftover filled pastries in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Cover and store unfilled pastries at room temperature for 1 day, in the refrigerator for 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before filling and serving.
- Make Ahead Instructions: See choux pastry recipe for how to prepare the dough ahead of time. Peanut butter mousse can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Chocolate ganache can also be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Microwave the refrigerated ganache for a few seconds until it’s thin enough for dipping/coating.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt-Head Glass Mixing Bowl | Glass Mixing Bowls | Glass Measuring Cup | Wooden Spatula | Copper Saucepan | Baking Sheet | Wilton #12 Piping Tip | Ateco #809 Piping Tip | Piping Bags | Pastry Brush
- Peanut Butter: I don’t suggest using a natural style peanut butter for the mousse as it would separate.
Homemade eclairs, and anything made with choux pastry, count as participation in the September Baking Challenge! Keep the entries coming, I love seeing your French pastry creations. 🙂