The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop this month is hosted by fellow Perth blogger The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader and the theme is layered desserts.
My contribution is a chocolate éclair cake (its got 12 layers!)
I came across a recipe for chocolate eclair cake a while ago, it’s basically a type of ice box (aka refrigerator) cake made up of vanilla pudding which is lightened with whipped cream, layered between graham crackers and topped with a chocolate glaze. After refrigeration, this cake promises to taste just like a chocolate éclair as the graham crackers have absorbed moisture from the cream and softened, resembling the choux pastry found in an eclair. I love eating chocolate eclairs and the thought of a short cut way of making it where I wouldn’t have to mess around with choux pastry was an exciting prospect, but would it deliver what it promised? I wanted to find out.
Ice box cakes are an old school dessert that have been around since the 1930s, it was one of those back-of-the-box recipes by companies trying to promote their products to housewives by showing them how to make convenient party fare. The defining recipe comes from an American brand of cookie, Nabisco Chocolate Wafers which suggested stacking the wafers to form a log with whipped cream cementing them together and refrigerating overnight for a glorious looking chocolate cake that is deceptively simple to make. In Australia we have our own version made with Arnotts Chocolate Ripple biscuits.
The chocolate éclair cake is a bit of a spin-off containing graham crackers and a bunch of instant products - vanilla pudding, whipping cream and chocolate frosting. Graham crackers are an ingredient that I often come across in American dessert recipes where some sort of biscuit base is required. However, graham crackers are not readily available in Australia and I usually use digestive biscuits as a substitute but I don’t know if they would work the same way for this dessert. Luckily I came across some graham crackers at an Asian supermarket (Dragon Supermarket on William Street). You are also able to order graham crackers online at USA Foods.
I’ve never used any box mix/instant product for baking before and I don’t intend to…ever. Even with box mixes, you are still required to add in other ingredients (some liquid, eggs), so I would rather make the whole thing from scratch so I know exactly what will be in it and I can use the best ingredients. For the chocolate éclair cake I made my own vanilla pudding, whipped my own cream and made a chocolate glaze.
(Supporting local and organic producers – using organic Margaret River milk
and Bannister Downs cream)
and Bannister Downs cream)
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first but was pleasantly surprised with the end result, it really did taste like a chocolate éclair. Although there is a difference in that you don’t get that crisp choux pastry encompassing the cream as the graham crackers have softened to a point that they literally melt in your mouth. But it’s delicious and that’s what counts. Picking apart the soft graham crackers, it has a flakey texture like choux pastry and provides a nice light layer in between the creamy vanilla pudding.
This chocolate eclair cake is really easy to put together if you follow the original recipe with all the instant products, but I made it a little harder by making the other components from scratch. I think it’s worth spending that extra time and effort as the result is superior.
Give this chocolate éclair ice box cake a go and put it into the category of cakes that you won’t be able to stop eating. It was my first go at an ice box cake and it definitely won’t be my last. Ice box cakes are a no bake dessert that can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be and the possibilities are endless – you could try using different types of biscuits, experiment with have different types of cream fillings and layer it with other things as well such as fruit or nuts. It can also be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.
Chocolate Éclair Cake
(recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)
• Graham crackers (the amount of crackers depends on how many layers you want, I used around ~400g)
• Chocolate glaze (150g dark chocolate plus 2 tablespoons of butter)
• 600ml cream (for whipping)
Vanilla pudding (adapted from Joy of Baking)
• 3 1/2 cups full cream milk
• 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup caster sugar
• 1/4 cup corn flour
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs
• 1 large egg yolk
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
(Note: as a shortcut you can use instant vanilla pudding, can of whipped cream and premade chocolate frosting)
To make vanilla pudding.
In a large heatproof bowl whisk together 1/3 cup sugar, cornflour, salt, eggs, and egg yolk. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk. Set aside. Rinse a medium-sized heavy saucepan with cold water and then shake out the excess water (this helps to prevents the milk from scorching). Add into the saucepan the remaining 3 cups of milk, along with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture to a clean, large heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. If necessary, pour through the strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed during cooking. Transfer pudding to a large bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2-3 hours.
Pour the cream into a large bowl and beat it until it forms whipped cream.
Using a spatula, gently fold in half of the whipped cream into the cooled pudding, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until combined.
Line a 8 inch x 8 inch baking pan with foil. Cover the bottom of the pan with enough graham crackers, breaking as needed to fit in the pan. Spread over the top of the crackers some of the pudding/cream mixture, smoothing the top with a spatula (the layers of cream can be as thin or thick as you want). Repeat with the remaining pudding/cream and crackers, the last layer should be crackers. Refrigerate until ready to glaze.
You can have as many layers of cream and crackers as you want – the recipe that I got this idea for chocolate éclair cake from had three layers of graham crackers and two thick layers of cream. I decided to do as many layers as I could – 6 layers of graham crackers and 5 layers of cream.
In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Cool the chocolate until barely warm/room temperature but still liquid and then spread evenly over the top cracker layer. Refrigerate the cake for 6-24 hours.
Related post - My entry for January's Sweet Adventures Blog Hop: Death by Chocolate - Oreo Cookies