Chocolate Eclairs Are Made Simple With A Piping Bag

Chocolate eclairs — the French dessert that consists of pastry filled with cream and topped with fondant icing — may seem daunting to make at home. They require the preparation of a specific type of pastry (choux pastry, also known as pâte à choux) and then require precise filling with rich cream. However, making chocolate eclairs can be much easier than anticipated, especially if you use a piping bag.

In Tasting Table's recipe for mini chocolate eclairs, recipe developer Eric Ngo explains the piping process, which admittedly requires some practice. Ngo outlines three rules for successful piping. First, squeeze the piping bag with your dominant hand while using your other hand to guide the tip of the bag. Secondly, position the guiding hand underneath the bag to avoid obstructing your view of the piping area. Lastly, if you make a mistake and create a "peak," you can correct it by moistening your finger with cold water, and gently smoothing out the imperfection.

Before attempting these steps, it's crucial to select the appropriate tip — for mini eclairs, either a PF 16 or a size 12 round piping tip is recommended, while a PF 15 is suitable for standard-sized eclairs.

Can I make eclairs without a piping bag?

Fortunately, if you don't have a piping bag, you can use a large resealable plastic bag as a substitute for making eclairs. Here's how: fill the bag with your dough, and push it toward one corner. Then, snip off a corner of the bag — the size of the cut can vary depending on whether you're making mini or regular-sized eclairs. After that, you're ready to pipe!

If you have a piping bag tip, you can still insert the tip into the corner of the plastic bag before adding your filling. But don't worry: While piping without the tip might not be as neat and precise, it'll still yield tasty results. Additionally, this method serves as an excellent chance to hone your piping skills and determine if you enjoy the process before investing in a professional tool. If you do end up buying one, don't forget to explore Tasting Table's suggestions for the absolute best ways to utilize your piping bag!