inside out – chocolate ‘eclair’ cake

inside out – chocolate ‘eclair’ cake

Combine four basic ingredients—water, butter, flour and eggs—in the right way, and you can create a great fluffy-looking pastry. I’m talking about the classic pâte à choux, also known as choux pastry. It’s the basis for profiteroles (cream puffs), éclairs, croquembouche, beignets, St Honoré cakes, and more.

Pâte à choux is leavened with steam rather than a chemical agent (baking soda or baking powder), and the result is a hollow center that begs to be filled with silky cream.

What if you turned the choux pastry inside out? Instead of stuffing them, envelope them with a whopping amount of filling to create a cake.

For this recipe, I alternate layers of chocolate choux pastry with chocolate cream and topped them with chocolate profiteroles filled with more chocolate cream. The entire cake then gets a drizzle of chocolate glaze.

This multi-layer dessert is the opposite of a dainty profiterole or an elegant éclair with pastry cream. It’s a triple chocolate parfait that demands a large spoon.


Chocolate 'Eclair' Cake


Rum Raisins
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 5 tablespoons dark rum
Chocolate Pâte à Choux
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • 1-1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 tablespoons sugar plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Cream Frosting
  • 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coffee extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Chocolate Pastry Cream (recipe above)
  • Chocolate discs & puffs
  • Chocolate Cream Frosting
  • Chocolate Glaze (recipe to follow)
  • Rum Raisins
Chocolate Glaze
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


Rum Raisins

1. Combine both ingredients in a small bowl and let soak for minimum of 30 minutes.

Chocolate Pâte à Choux

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425℉. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper traced with two 8-inch circle as template. Whisk eggs, egg white, and vanilla together in bowl. Bring water, butter, sugar, and salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, remove pan from heat. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour until smooth. Return saucepan to low heat and cook, constantly stirring and smearing mixture against bottom of saucepan, until mixture is slightly shiny and registers 170℉ on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Transfer flour mixture to food processor and process until slightly cool, about 30 seconds. With food processor running, slowly add egg mixture through feed tube until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and process until smooth, thick paste forms, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle cocoa over paste and process until combined, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3 Transfer cocoa paste to a piping bag, fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, and pipe two discs just smaller than the 8-inch templates , about 1-1/4-inch-high.

4. Bake for 12 minutes (do not open oven door) and then reduce oven temperature to 350℉ and continue to bake until firm, 15-17 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and turn off oven. Using tip of paring knife, carefully cut four 1/2-inch slit into side of each disc. Return to oven, prop door open with wooden spoon, and let discs dry for 20 minutes. Transfer discs to wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 425℉, pipe remaining batter into 2-inch-wide and 1-1/4-inch-high mounds 2 inches apart on a clean baking sheet lined with parchment. Dip small spoon in water and smooth exterior of mounds. Bake for 15 minutes (do not open oven door) and then reduce oven temperature to 350℉ and continue to bake until firm, 15-18 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and turn off oven. Using tip of paring knife, carefully cut 1/2-inch slit into side of each puff. Return to oven, prop door open with wooden spoon, and let discs dry for 25 minutes. Transfer puffs to wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Discs and puffs can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day or frozen in single layer in airtight container for up to 1 month.)

Chocolate Pastry Cream

1. Heat the half-and-half, 4 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

3. When the half-and-half mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering half-and-half into the yolk mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, chocolate, and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

Chocolate Cream Frosting

1. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine cream cheese, sugar, cocoa powder, extracts and salt. Whisk mixture on medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to medium-low, slowing pour in heavy cream and whisk for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk mixture until soft peak. Reduce speed to medium-low, add chocolate pastry cream in 3-4 additions until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk to stiff peak.


1. In a 8-inch by 3-inch high ring mold (alternately use a spring form pan) place one chocolate disc on bottom and top with half of the chocolate cream frosting. Sprinkle half of the rum raisins over frosting and top with second chocolate disc. Repeat with remaining frosting and raisins. Select the best looking puffs and place on top, press gently to adhere. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for about one hour.

2. Drain raisins and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside.

Chocolate Glaze

1. Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add vanilla, espresso and chocolate. Whisk gently until smooth, 30 seconds. Let stand, whisking occasionally, until thickened and cool slightly, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Remove cake from refrigerator, carefully release cake from ring mold or spring form pan and place on cake stand or serving platter. Drizzle glaze on top of puffs and let it drip on the side of cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. (Cake is best eaten the day of assembly but can be refrigerate for one day.