Easy Chocolate Eclair Recipe
What is chocolate éclair cake?
First of all, Eclairs are a delicious French pastry made with choux dough, filled with creamy custard, and typically topped with chocolate frosting. And they are amazing!! But they're also time-consuming and not exactly simple to make.
So what I am sharing with you today is a recipe for chocolate eclair cake. It is a quick and easy dessert that consists of graham crackers layered with a creamy pudding and topped with chocolate frosting.
It's an icebox cake, which is a no-bake dessert made by layering ingredients and chilling it in the refrigerator until the layers set and the cookie or wafer layers become cake-like in texture.
And trust me, it's delightful! Not to mention, it is made in advance and is a great dessert to take along to a family gathering or potluck dinner.
Why is it Called Eclair Cake?
I honestly do not know where this dessert got its name or why it's called éclair cake. But it was a popular dessert in the eighties that also found its way onto Amish dessert tables.
My guess is that someone, who loved French eclairs, wanted to make a simple version of something that tasted similar and came up with this easy dessert.
And while it isn't made with puffed pastry, it has many of the same components and tastes similar to a classic eclair, without all the work.
Eclair Dessert is not a Traditional Amish Recipe
I know I will probably get comments from people saying that chocolate éclair cake is not Amish food. And that's okay because I honestly doubt that the recipe originated with the Amish.
But just because the food didn't originate with the Amish doesn't mean that it can't be an Amish recipe.
Because sometimes Amish cooks will take a popular recipe and change something to make it how they like it. Or they'll taste a dish and try to create a copycat recipe.
For example, Amish haystacks are just a twist on tacos. Someone took basically the same ingredients and created a new dish that became popular with the Amish.
So whether a recipe had Amish or PA Dutch origins or not, sometimes it gets called Amish simply because it's a popular dish in many Amish circles.
Many of the recipes that I post on my website are traditional Amish recipes and originate with the PA Dutch people.
But sometimes we have no way of knowing where a recipe originated. And some recipes become very popular in Amish circles even though they didn't begin with them.
The Amish people share lots of meals with their friends and neighbors, etc. So if one person creates or gets ahold of a recipe they love, they will probably make that dish to share with others at their next gathering.
Well, guess what happens then? Everyone loves the new dish and wants the recipe.
Amish ladies share many of their recipes. And the next thing you know everyone is making that new dish. And it becomes a popular recipe among the Amish, finding its way into many of their cookbooks.
A few days ago, I was trying to remember what kind of desserts we ate a lot when I was growing up (besides cake, cookies, pies, etc.). And the first thing that came to my mind was this no-bake chocolate éclair cake.
Another one was layered delights, such as this peach delight and cherry delight.
So even though the Amish are known for their delicious pies, cakes, and whoopie pies, they also enjoy many layered desserts, etc.
Chocolate Eclair Dessert with Homemade Frosting
While this pudding and graham cracker cake is topped with a simple homemade dark chocolate frosting, you can cut some time and top it with a container of store-bought frosting if desired.
Or perhaps you would enjoy it better with chocolate ganache on the top. Feel free to switch things up as you desire.
Eclair Cake Made from Scratch
The other day when I went to make this easy homemade eclair cake, I discovered that I didn't have enough instant pudding in my pantry. So what do I do now? I could make a different dessert.
But I decided to make pudding from scratch instead. I had all of the ingredients that I needed to make homemade pudding. And truthfully, it tastes even better when made with homemade pudding rather than instant pudding.
So, in case you're wondering why some of my photos don't look like they exactly match the recipe, it's because I made it with homemade pudding.
And my homemade cornstarch pudding recipe makes a very large batch. Even if you cut the recipe in half, you'll still have more than enough to make this eclair dessert.
Therefore, since I had a large batch of pudding, I decided to add an extra layer. I used an extra package of crackers and just spread a nice layer of pudding over each layer of crackers.
And it turned out great! Honestly, I liked it better than the original recipe.
So even though it requires an extra step (cooking and cooling the pudding), this éclair dessert is delightfully yummy when made with homemade pudding.
Recipes are often given as a guide. And if you cook a lot, chances are that you have numerous dishes you make where you don't need a recipe. You just throw ingredients together, and it turns out great.
And while it's more important to follow a recipe when baking, there are many recipes where you can get creative and switch things up to make it how you like it.
Eclair dessert is one of those recipes. It's delicious topped with cherry pie filling instead of chocolate frosting.
You can use regular instant vanilla pudding, French vanilla, or homemade pudding, or even switch it up for a different flavor of pudding. Use lemon instant pudding and top it with blueberry pie filling, etc.
Try it with chocolate grahams, or use vanilla wafers instead of graham crackers.
In most recipes, I prefer whipped cream over Cool Whip. And if that's you as well, feel free to whip up about 1 1/2 - 2 c. of heavy whipping cream to use in this recipe instead of Cool Whip. You can add a Tbsp. or two of sugar and a tsp. of vanilla, if desired.
If you enjoy this éclair cake dessert, I would love it if you left a comment and star rating below. And let me know what variations you tried.
More Amish Dessert Recipes
PA Dutch-Style Apple Dumplings
Chocolate Eclair Cake (Amish Recipe)
- 1 (14 oz.) box graham crackers (3 pkgs.)
- 2 (3.4 oz.) pkgs. instant vanilla pudding mix
- 3 1/2 c. milk
- 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed (or heavy whipped cream - see post above)
- 6 Tbsp. butter (softened)
- 6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. Karo Syrup
- 1/4 c. milk
- In a mixing bowl, beat instant pudding and milk until smooth. Gently stir in the thawed Cool Whip and mix to combine.2 (3.4 oz.) pkgs. instant vanilla pudding mix, 3 1/2 c. milk, 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed (or heavy whipped cream - see post above)
- In another bowl, mix and beat frosting ingredients until creamy and smooth. And if it seems too thick add a bit more milk or a Tbsp. of oil.6 Tbsp. butter (softened), 6 Tbsp. cocoa powder, 1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 tsp. Karo Syrup, 1/4 c. milk
- Arrange a layer of crackers into the bottom of a 9x13" dish. Spread half of the pudding over the top. Then put another layer of crackers and the remaining pudding. Then cover the top with another layer of crackers. (It goes like this: crackers, pudding, crackers, pudding, crackers.)1 (14 oz.) box graham crackers (3 pkgs.)
- Carefully spread the frosting over the top of the last layer of crackers. (If you prefer, you can refrigerate the dish for a while before frosting.)
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (preferably overnight) before serving.
- Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 5 or 6 days.
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