Chocolate Eclairs

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(Gluten & Dairy Free)

An early holiday memory involves the aroma of milk heating as I stand on a chair to stir pudding for the Chocolate Eclair filling.  After my son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I modified our traditional family dessert.

This recipe requires lots of eggs to help the pastry puffs rise and to make the delicious custard filling. However, it’s free of dairy and gluten. 

Allow enough time to make this 3-step recipe, considering that the custard requires cooling before use. Ensure you have all ingredients before beginning. Prepare in the order listed, the custard first, followed by the pastry puffs, and finally the chocolate ganache.

The recipe yields approximately 13-16 eclairs, depending on the size of the scooper.

Organic & Fair-Trade ingredients:

Custard Filling:

  • 2 cups coconut milk, canned
  • 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pastry Puffs:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup avocado or liquefied coconut oil
  • 1 and1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 and1/2 cups gluten-free baking flour mix (predominantly rice flour, not a nut or root flour )

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 4 ounces baking chocolate or 2/3 cup allergen-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar (omit if using chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, from a carton
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Custard Filling:

  1. Add coconut milk to a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is light yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the cornstarch. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back to low and slowly add the hot coconut milk to the egg mixture.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick and it just starts to come back up to a boil, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk. Continue cooking for 1–2 minutes. Do not cook more than 2 minutes or the cornstarch will lose its effectiveness. Don’t worry if your pastry custard looks curdled; just whisk it until it smooths out again.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until cold, about 2–3 hours. Whisk the pastry custard before filling the puffs.

Pastry Puffs:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat water and oil to a rolling boil. Stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat about one minute or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs, continue beating until smooth, and add baking powder. Beat well or puffs will not rise during baking. Drop dough using ice cream scoop or ¼ cup, separating about 3 inches apart on a lightly greased, stainless steel baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until puffs are golden brown. (If puffs are too light in color, they will not hold up to the filling.) Cool away from a draft.
  4. After completely cooled, carefully slice open tops partially with a table knife and remove inner breading. Then fill with cooled pudding and drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Ganache:

  1. Break the baking chocolate into pieces (or add the chocolate chips) and place into a small heatproof bowl and heat over double boiler (steam method) on medium.  Once melted, add the sugar (omit if using chocolate chips) and coconut milk and continue to heat, stirring often.  Once the sugar is melted completely, stir in the vanilla extract and let set undisturbed for 3 minutes.
  2. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is glossy. Let the ganache sit for 5 minutes or so to thicken up.
  3. Drizzle the ganache over the cream-filled puffs and refrigerate for approximately 15 minutes before serving.

Eat within a day or two as the gluten-free flour becomes stiff with refrigeration.