EASY no bake Chocolate Eclair Cake is loaded with all of the great flavors of an eclair in rich and creamy cake form.
This Chocolate Eclair Cake is super quick and easy to make but is a crowd pleasing, show stopping, all time favorite dessert! This Chocolate Éclair Cake features layers of graham crackers, mega creamy filling made with vanilla pudding and homemade whipped cream, all topped with a luscious chocolate glaze. It is best made the day before for an easy, stress free, dessert!
I had all sorts of recipes I was excited to share with you all before Christmas but I just got out of the hospital for a kidney infection (extra serious because I had a kidney transplant). I am doing great now, it just means my hospital time cut into my recipe time and now I only have time for 1-2 recipes before Christmas, so I pick this CHOCOLATE ÉCLAIR CAKE!
Chocolate Éclair Cake recipes went viral a few years ago on Pinterest, but honestly, I didn’t expect it to be worth all the hype. I was wrong.
This Chocolate Éclair Cake is one of the best desserts in the world. I could have eaten half the pan in one sitting if I wasn’t trying to leave some to photograph (and later I did eat a quarter of it one siting, and would have eaten it all if I wasn’t trying to be nice and save some for Patrick because he LOVED it too).
I wanted to share this Chocolate Éclair Cake in time for Christmas because I know everyone will go crazy over it AND I’m pretty sure it is the easiest “cake” in history.
And the best thing about this Chocolate Éclair Cake (aside from the outrageously creamy, luscious layers), is that it is best if chilled overnight so the graham crackers can soften and the filling layers thicken so all you have to do is pull it out of the fridge to serve everyone’s favorite dessert!
WHAT IS CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE?
We all know everyone loves Chocolate Éclair Cake, but what exactly is it? Essentially, Chocolate Éclair Cake, is an icebox cake that requires no baking and resembles a chocolate coated, cream stuffed éclair.
Most Chocolate Éclair Cakes are made with layers of graham crackers, vanilla pudding, cool whip and canned chocolate frosting. While I’m sure these recipes are relatively delicious, the cool whip leaves the filling tasting artificial and plasticky and the canned frosting is far too heavy for an éclair.
My Chocolate Éclair Cake recipe, however, is semi-homemade so you get the best of both worlds – taste and convenience. We use stabilized homemade whipped cream instead of Cool Whip and an easy chocolate ganache instead of frosting. The results are dreamy decadence I cannot wait for you to taste!
HOW DO YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE?
Step 1- Pudding: Add milk and pudding mixes to a large bowl and whisk until smooth and thick. Refrigerate.
Step 2 – Gelatin: Stir the water and gelatin together in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Microwave the mixture until it’s bubbling around the edges and the gelatin dissolves, about 15 – 30 seconds. Set aside.
Step 3 – Stabilized Whipped Cream: Using a hand electric mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium-low speed until foamy (about 1 minute).
Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture and whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
Step 4 – Filling: Fold whipped cream into chilled pudding then beat on low with electric mixer just until combined.
Step 5 – Assemble: Cover the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking with a layer of graham crackers (1 sleeve), breaking the crackers as necessary to fit pan.
Top with half of the filling.
Followed by another layer of graham crackers…
Then the remaining filling.
Top with another layer of graham crackers.
Step 6 – Chocolate Glaze: Add chocolate chips, ¾ cup heavy cream, and corn syrup to a medium bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.
Let glaze cool for 10 minutes in the refrigerator then pour and smooth evenly all over the top layer of graham crackers.
Chill: Cover and refrigerate Chocolate Éclair Cake for at least 8 hours before serving, up to 5 days.
How many packages of graham crackers will I need for CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE?
You will need three packages of Graham crackers for this Chocolate Éclair Cake. One box of graham crackers contains 3 individually wrapped packages of crackers. You will need about one package for each layer.
CAN YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE WITHOUT COOL WHIP?
Yes! This Chocolate Éclair Cake recipe does NOT use cool whip. Cool whip serves the purpose of lightening the texture of the vanilla pudding but it is packed with chemicals and has the tendency to taste plasticky.
Instead, this Chocolate Éclair Cake recipe uses stabilized whip cream. Stabilized whipped cream is simply heavy cream that has been whipped with gelatin in order to give it structure. If you don’t include gelatin then the whipped cream can become runny which means your filling can become runny.
Gelatin is a common baking ingredient and can be found next to the packages of Jell-O and pudding at your grocery store.
CAN YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE WITH COOL WHIP?
If you prefer to us Cool Whip, then replace the gelatin and heavy cream with 1 (8 oz) thawed container whipped topping. Fold it into the pudding instead of the stabilized whipped cream.
CAN YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE WITH pudding from scratch?
Absolutely! You will need:
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk the milk into the sugar mixture until smooth and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula, over medium-high heat.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, continuing to scrape the bottom, until thickened and large bubbles appear on the surface, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
CAN YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE WITH GANACHE?
I HIGHLY recommend chocolate ganache for this Chocolate Éclair Cake as opposed to shortcut chocolate frosting. While “ganache” sounds fancy, it is simply the French way of saying chocolate melted into hot cream and is SO EASY!
This Chocolate Ganache also contains corn syrup which serves 3 purposes:
- makes the ganache extra smooth
- keeps the ganache shiny even after being refrigerated
- keeps the ganache flexible when it sets
You can omit the corn syrup if you really are opposed (but it is dessert, it is supposed to have sugar), but I can pretty much guarantee your ganache will be the opposite of all three aforementioned benefits of corn syrup, the most serious being it will not be as flexible and therefore will likely crack and break when you slice/eat it. If you are omitting the corn syrup, then you might want to considering using a chocolate frosting instead.
CAN YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE WITH CANNED FROSTING?
I highly recommend using Chocolate Ganache as opposes to Chocolate Frosting for this Chocolate Éclair Cake, but yes, you can use either canned or homemade chocolate frosting.
I suggest warming the chocolate frosting for 20 seconds or so, so it will easily glide over the graham crackers.
DOES CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED?
Yes! You CANNOT skip chilling your Chocolate Éclair Cake for at least 8 hours. The chilling time softens the graham crackers to perfect cake-like consistency and helps the filling set up. Without the chilling time, your Chocolate Éclair Cake will not be gorgeously creamy.
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO YOU MAKE CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE?
This Chocolate Éclair Cake should be made at least 8 hours in advance but you are welcome to make it a couple days in advance and it will still taste equally fabulous.
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- 2 (3.4 oz.) pkgs. instant vanilla pudding
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 sleeves (14 oz.) graham crackers
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- PUDDING: Add milk and pudding mixes to a large bowl and whisk until smooth and thick. Refrigerate.
- STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM: Stir the water and gelatin together in a small bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Microwave the mixture until it’s bubbling around the edges and the gelatin dissolves, about 15 – 30 seconds. Set aside.
- Using a hand electric mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium-low speed until foamy (about 1 minute), then increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add the gelatin mixture and whip until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
- FILLING: Fold whipped cream into chilled pudding then beat on low with electric mixer just until combined.
- ASSEMBLE: Cover the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking with a layer of graham crackers (1 sleeve), breaking the crackers as necessary to fit pan. Top with half of the filling, then another layer of graham crackers, the remaining filling and another layer of graham crackers (3 layers of graham crackers, 2 layers of filling).
- CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Add chocolate chips, ¾ cup heavy cream, and corn syrup to a medium bowl. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Let glaze cool for 10 minutes in the refrigerator then pour and smooth evenly all over the top layer of graham crackers.
- CHILL: Cover and refrigerate Chocolate Éclair Cake for at least 8 hours before servings. Cake may be chilled for up to 5 days. Cake is easiest to slice and serve immediately after removing from the refrigerator.
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Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated, page