What Is An Éclair?

What’s An Éclair [Explained], Éclair Origin, Éclair Recipe and More!

eclair selection at gorse hill in surrey

An éclair is a slender cake made from very light pastry which is typically filled with cream and often topped with chocolate.

At Gorse Hill we love éclairs, and you'll often find them as one of the delectable treats in our renowned afternoon tea in Surrey. 

Keep reading to learn more on the delightful topic of "What Is an Éclair?".

History Of The Éclair

Éclairs are believed to have been created by the French celebrity chef Antonin Carême, whose early life struggles led to a remarkable culinary invention in the 19th century around 1884.

He's credited with turning the éclair into a legendary dessert by putting his special touch on a pastry formerly known as "pain à la duchesse" or "petite duchesse."

During the chaotic days of the French Revolution Antonin’s parents abandoned him and he had to take up a job as a kitchen assistant to ensure he had a place to live and enough to eat. 

Later, he became an apprentice to a renowned pastry chef named Sylvain Bailly.

Overtime this young boy's talent flourished and he evolved into an incredibly skilled chef. 

Chef Antonin Carême went on to revolutionize French cuisine, write best-selling cookbooks, and create lavish banquets for royalty and important figures.

eclair amongst other treats at gorse hill in surrey

Éclair Meaning In French

In French the word "éclair" means "flash." 

Although the exact reason for naming this dessert remains unclear, many believe it's because it describes how quickly these treats vanish if not guarded. 

And we can't blame anyone for indulging in these delightful pastries!

Profiteroles vs Éclair | What’s The Difference?

Many people tend to mix up éclairs and profiteroles because they share some similarities, but they're not the same! 

The main difference between éclairs and profiteroles lies in the shape of the choux pastry. Éclairs are long and slender while the other is small and round.

Their fillings often differ as well. Éclairs are always stuffed with cream whereas profiteroles can also be filled with ice cream, which is usually how they're served in France.

Also, éclairs are usually finished with a glaze, while profiteroles are topped with chocolate sauce.

profiteroles at gorse hill in surrey

Chocolate Éclair Recipe

Now that you're familiar with what an éclair is, it's time to share a recipe for making this classic dessert which will serve 8 people. 


  • 200ml water
  • 85g butter
  • 115g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 3 medium eggs


  • 450ml double cream, whipped


  • 200g melted chocolate
  • 200g icing sugar sifted
  • 100ml hot water


STEP 1: Heat the oven to 200C (392 degrees Fahrenheit). Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

STEP 2: Warm the water and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts.

STEP 3: Add flour, sugar, and salt and beat until the mixture is silky smooth then continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

STEP 4: Take the pan off the heat and transfer it to a kitchen mixer with a k attachment. Add eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

STEP 5: Allow the mixture to cool, then transfer it into a pastry bag equipped with a medium-sized plain nozzle.

STEP 6: Pipe 8 x 12cm long lines onto a baking sheet with lined paper. Open the oven door and put the pastries in. Bake for 30 minutes until they turn golden and crispy. Let them cool.

STEP 7: Generously fill the light and airy pastries with cream.

STEP 8: Beat the chocolate, icing sugar and hot water together until it becomes runny and glossy. Dip each éclair so they're topped with a shiny glaze and then serve these delicious desserts. 

Tip: You can always sprinkle the éclairs with chocolate chips for added decoration. 

array of eclairs at gorse hill in surrey

We hope you enjoyed learning about “What Is An Éclair?”.

For more great food-related reads check out “Where In England Did Fish And Chips Originate?” and “Why Do We Eat Mince Pies At Christmas?”.

As mentioned, éclairs are often featured as one of the sweet treats on our afternoon tea. 

For an amazing dining experience in Surrey, be sure to check Gorse Hill out!

traditional afternoon tea at gorse hill in surrey

Frequently Asked Questions Related To: What Is An Éclair?

Q: What exactly is an éclair?
A: An éclair is a delicate pastry which is usually long and slender and made from very light choux pastry. It's often filled with cream and topped with chocolate. Sometimes éclairs can have a Chantilly cream or custard filling, but this is less popular. 

Q: What is the difference between a cream puff and an éclair?
A: Both are made from choux pastry, but the key distinction lies in their shape. Éclairs are long and slender while cream puffs are round.

Q: Where do éclairs originate from?
A: An éclair is a classic French pastry made with choux pastry, filled with whipped cream and topped with icing. It's now a popular dessert all around the world.

Q: Who invented éclairs?
A: Éclairs are believed to have been created by the famous French Chef Antonin Carême.

Q: Are éclairs popular in France?
A: In France, the éclair is an incredibly popular dessert available in nearly every patisserie. They're typically filled with chocolate cream or whipped cream and piped with icing, although there are many variations of this delightful treat.

Q: What is the most popular éclair flavours?
A: One of the most popular is the chocolate éclair which has a cream filling and is coated with chocolate icing and topped with a chocolate glaze.  However, there are many other flavours available like lemon or pistachio.