Well Éclair’s are the thing after macaron. This is a really simple take on the éclair with no baking involved! It does require resting time so the graham crackers can absorb the moisture and soften. This has so many variations from a plain simple one to fruit flavored to boozy – as boozy as you like.
I made this for an aunt’s 70 birthday as the request was for a peanut butter dessert. It also needed to be packed in a transportable container and driven for 5 hours. It made it there successfully in a cooler and was a big hit.
For the Pastry Cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or a mix
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Éclair
- 1 package of Graham Crackers
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/2 pint heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 12 oz milk chocolate chips
Keep a mesh strainer set in a heat proof container ready.
Pour the milk into a pot and place it over medium heat. Heat until it starts to steam but do not let it start bubbling (Small little bubbles at the edge of the pot are fine). While the milk is warming, mix the sugar and egg yolks. Then add the flour and salt ensuring it is all well mixed. This will be quite thick. .
Once the milk has started steaming turn off the heat and pour it in a very slow stream into the egg mixture, whisking fairly quickly and consistently. You can also use a ladle to pour it in a ladle at a time. Once all the milk has been added, pour the mixture back into the pot and place it back on medium-low heat whisking continuously.
When you start whisking, it will be really frothy and very thin. As the mixture heats it will start to thicken. You have to be patient with this step because the how quickly it thickens depends on your heat. You do not want to raise your heat to have it thicken faster as it can be easy to overheat this mixture and get to a lumpy consistency. It will take somewhere between 8-12 minutes for it to thicken. You will notice the whisk leave trails and you will be able to see it thicken. You will also see that it starts to bubble a little. Take it off the heat.
Pour the mixture into the mesh strainer to catch any egg bits. Using your spatula gently stir the mixture in strainer to help it through. Divide your pastry cream into two halves. Add your peanut butter to one and whisk to incorporate. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of both halves of the cream to prevent a crust from forming. Set them aside until they are completely cooled.
Just before you are ready to assemble. Whisk the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar and continue whisking until just past soft peak stage (when you lift your whisk the peak gently falls over). Fold half of this into the plain pastry cream.
In a 9×9 inch pan put a layer of graham crackers. Cover this with the the peanut butter pastry cream. Place another layer of graham crackers on top. Then add the pastry cream with the whipped cream. Place another layer of graham crackers on top and cover with the remaining whipped cream. Place this in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave on short 10 second bursts stirring in between. Once it is melted let it cool for a bit and carefully spread it over the top of the cream. Refrigerate again overnight before serving. This helps the graham crackers soften.
You can do a variety of variations:
Fruit based – add about 1/3 of a cup of fruit puree instead of the peanut butter. Top with the same fruit glaze. Omit the chocolate glaze
Brandy – add 1/4 cup of brandy into the whipped cream omitting the peanut butter
Elderberry -add 1/4 cup of elderberry juice or liquor to the whipped cream