March 28, 2012

Chocolate Eclair Cake

I live in constant fear that my gas oven will die on me.  It's happened before and for a baking fanatic like me it was my worst nightmare realized.  If you saw my oven for yourself you'd sympathize.  So can you blame me for always being on the lookout for no-bake desserts? 

My sister sent me this recipe for a chocolate eclair cake from Cook's Country a while back.   I'd never heard of it before but apparently it was quite well-known.   The no-fuss version is to layer a mixture of instant vanilla pudding and Cool-Whip between graham crackers, top the whole thing with ready-made chocolate frosting and refrigerate for a few hours.  Cook's Country amped it up big time by making everything, but the graham crackers, from scratch.

The flavors of the cake were great but I wish the graham crackers had held up their shape more, especially when it came time to slice.  Not sure how the folks at Cook's Country were able to get such nice, clean cuts because my crackers were kind of mushy.  Maybe next time I won't let the cake chill overnight; perhaps a few hours will suffice.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

1 1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
5 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
14 ounces graham crackers
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
5 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk milk into sugar mixture until smooth and bring to a boil, scraping bottom with rubber spatula, over medium high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium low and cook, continuing to scrape bottom, until thickened and large bubbles appear on surface, 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer pudding to large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.

Stir water and gelatin together in bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around the edges and gelatin dissolves, 15 to 30 seconds. Using stand mixture fitted with whisk, whip 2 cups cream on medium low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture and whip until soft peaks, about 1 minute.

Whisk one third whipped cream whipped cream into chilled pudding, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream, 1 scoop at a time, until combined. Cover bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish with layer of graham crackers, breaking crackers as necessary to line the bottom of the pan. Top with half of pudding whipped cream mixture and another layer of graham crackers. Repeat with remaining pudding-whipped cream mixture and remaining graham crackers.

Microwave chocolate chips, remaining 3/4 cup cream, and corn syrup in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes.  Cover graham crackers with glaze and refrigerate cake for 6 to 24 hours. Serve.


  1. I'm loving this cake version. I've always been quite intimidated with making éclairs but this cake is more up my alley.

    Can't wait to give this a try! :)

  2. Looks great and I love your from-scratch version! Definitely bookmarked =).

  3. Anonymous7/03/2013

    Very excited to make this for the 4th of July! I wanted to let you know, while the sliced piece looks perfect on the Cooks Country site, when Bridget served it on the program, she scooped into it with a spoon and put a big, gooey pile of the cake in a bowl. The graham crackers were definitely mushy and it looked like a parfait. (This is how I remember my mom's store-bought pudding version too!) A little imperfect and messy, but so delicious!

  4. Anonymous8/28/2013

    Can the gelatin be substituted with something else?

    1. Anonymous11/03/2013

      Try agar agar


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