Vegan Eclairs ~ Pâte à Choux Recipe
Any one who knows anything about classic pastry knows that pâte à choux dough is a very egg rich dough
Relying heavily on the eggs in the recipe to bake up into hollow shells of pastry
I’ve tried several recipes for vegan eclairs and not one has lived up to my standard
Vegan recipes must be ~at the very least~ an 85% match to the original.
Meaning my non vegan friends who taste it must exclaim “there is no way this is vegan!”
So out of all the various recipes from fellow bloggers that I’ve tried over the years
Not one was making the grade
In 2018 I made vegan eclairs with great success, until they failed.
The original recipe that I developed back in early 2018 used a combination of aquafaba
And a proprietary blend called Vegan Egg from Follow Your Heart
This Vegan Egg by FYH was developed somewhere around 2014 and was widely sold here in the US by late 2015
It was one of the first vegan egg products ever on the market that mimicked so closely to a real egg.
So naturally I started using it in many of my recipes.
The Vegan Eclair was one.
After months of testing and finally nailing down a perfect rendition of pâte à choux paste
Follow Your Heart almost immediately changed the formula of The Vegan Egg by replacing the algal flour with soy milk powder!
Algal flour seemed to be causing gastrointestinal distress in many people so they discontinued it’s use.
But now my recipe no longer worked and I was gutted.
It has been almost 5 years since I decided to revisit the vegan eclair issue
Other bloggers and recipe developers had been claiming to have “the perfect vegan eclair”
So I thought, “oh well, who really needs another recipe then?”
But I’ve tried several of those recipes more recently which is why I am back here today
After trying several of what is touted to be “the perfect vegan eclair”
I was left frustrated and re-invigorated.
I promptly decided “someone has to be truthful about having the perfect vegan eclair, and that someone is going to be me.”
What Makes a Perfect Eclair?
Pâte à choux paste is a dough that is made first on the stove by boiling water and/or milk with butter a spot of sugar and a pinch of salt
Flour is mixed into that and a stiff dough is formed
This dough gets transferred to a mixing bowl where the eggs are added one by one while mixing
This stiff dough is transformed into beautiful paste that gets piped and then baked at a high temperature
This high temperature converts the liquids and eggs in the recipe to steam causing rapid rising as the steam escapes and evaporates
Leaving behind a hollow center and a delicate yet crispy pastry shell that is ready to be filled with whipped cream lightened pastry cream.
Cream, puffs get a sprinkle of powdered sugar and eclairs get dipped in chocolate
What Makes this one 85% Acceptable?
My recipe for Vegan Eclairs would be 100% acceptable if they did not deflate after baking.
Other than that, it’s a 100% WIN!
Maybe I’m being hard with the 85% tag, since no one but me would know they deflated anyway!
The taste, the crisp outer shell and the slight “eggy” matrix that remains in that otherwise hollow shell
Allowing for a hefty amount of pastry cream filling without making them soggy!
Notes for Success:
The updated recipe below includes 3 ingredients that are perhaps not already in your pantry but are the essential keys to success of this recipe
Chick Pea Flour is the binding ingredient that also helps with the lightness and ultimate rise of the shell
Methocel is a thickener and a stabilizer that is not an essential ingredient here if you do not want to buy it.
I have made this recipe without it with the result being slightly more “bread-like”
But bread-like eclairs is not an 85% pass in my book, so I definitely use it.
Xanthan Gum we rely on xanthan gum to provide elasticity and stickiness in our doughs and batters.
It aids as a binding agent for the flour, helps hold onto some moisture, and helps give the baked good some structure.
I have made this recipe without it with the result being slightly more “bread-like” again,which is not an 85% pass in my book, so I definitely use this as well.
But wait! All this talk about the pâte à choux dough
We must talk about the pastry cream!
I am using the recipe I always use for everything custard!
However this time I did not fold in the whipped cream as I usually do, which would then make it a Diplomat Cream
You can of course lighten it up with whipped cream if you wish but typically eclairs are straight pastry cream
Cornstarch is a very difficult ingredient to measure consistently with a volume spoons measure
So while I list both measures below I cannot stress enough how the grams measure with a scale is going to give you the best results.
Many times people have complained that their custard is like rubber and they don’t know why!
This is from a heavy measure of cornstarch when using volume measuring spoon vs the 100% accurate scale measure in grams.
It is really helpful to watch the video tutorial linked below to see all the subtle details that can only be captured on video versus describing here in written text.
Don’t forget pâte à choux dough makes Cream Puffs too!
With the same custard filling and a rosette of whipped cream!
These single bite gems are the stuff dreams are made of!
For more classic pastry recipes veganized, click the links below!
Here I baked at 425°F convection setting for 12 min then turned down to 400°F convection setting 12 minutes, then 350°F convection setting for another 12 minutes.
If you are using CONVENTIONAL oven (no fan setting) keep it at 425°F for 24 minutes then turn down to 375°F for the last 12 minutes.
For both methods though: Cool in oven after shutting it off for another 10 minutes
For the Pate a Choux Plant Milk 1 cup (237ml) *I use soy Vegan Butter 2 Tablespoons (28g) Sugar 4 teaspoons Salt pinch Chick Pea Flour 3 Tablespoons (19g) Cold Water ½ cup (118ml) Aquafaba ½ cup (118ml) All Purpose Flour 1 cup (125g) Baking Powder 4 teaspoons Xanthan Gum ¼ teaspoon Methycellulose a.k.a Methocel ½ teaspoon (1g) Apple Cider Vinegar 1 teaspoon (5ml) For the Diplomat Pastry Cream Plant Milk 1½ cups (360ml) Granulated Sugar ½ cup (100g) Cornstarch 4 Tablespoons (36gg) Agar powder ½ teaspoon Vegan Butter 2 Tablespoon (28g) Vanilla Extract 2 teaspoon (10ml) Vegan Whipped Cream 1 cup (240ml) *optional for the cream puffs Melted Vegan Chocolate *as needed for the tops
Prepare the custard in advance so it is cold and ready to pipe once the eclairs are done baking & fully cooled. Prepare the pastry cream custard by combining the sugar with the cornstarch & agar powder and then add that to the plant milk in a large sauce pot Bring everything to a full rolling boil over medium to high heat whisking constantly to avoid scorching Once it comes to a full boil remove from the heat and add the vegan butter and the vanilla extract, whisk smooth Transfer the hot custard to a large mixing bowl to cool before filling the eclairs & puffs Refrigerate until ready to fill Next Preheat the oven to 425°F and make the Pate Choux Dough Combine the plant milk with the vegan butter, sugar and pinch of salt in a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil In a 2 cup measuring glass combine the aquafaba & the water with the apple cider vinegar In a medium bowl combine the all purpose & chick pea flours, baking powder, methocel & xantham gum Once the plant milk mixture comes to a full boil, add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture may bubble up slightly so be sure that you have a large enough pot to accommodate everything. Stir the dry flour mixture into the liquids in the sauce pot until everything is incorporated as best as possible Then transfer the entire mixture to a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment (a hand beater will be fine here) On low speed add about ¼ cup at a time of the aquafaba/water/acv mixture allowing the dough to absorb everything before the next addition Repeat until all the liquid is used and the dough is soft and sticky and looks like thick mashed potatoes. Transfer this choux paste to a pastry bag fitted with a round tube or I just use a coupler & no tip inserted and pipe 3″ long logs (or rounds for cream puffs) onto a silicone mat Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 12 minutes *see notes above Then turn the oven down to 400°F and bake for another 12 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for another 12 minutes The turn the oven off and let them cool inside for 5 minutes Remove from the oven and cool completely Fill with pastry cream Dip the tops of the filled eclairs in melted chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate Add a rosette of whipped cream to the cream puffs *optional
Unfilled shells can be stored in the freezer in a ziploc bag for up to 2 months