Cream Puff Base:
- 1⁄2 C unsalted butter
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1 C water
- 1 C all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 eggs
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a medium stock pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the salt and water, increase the heat to medium-high and whisk intermittently until the mixture boils vigorously.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, mixing vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is evenly distributed and there are no visible flour clumps. Crack one egg atop the flour mixture and quickly mix with the wooden spoon until it is incorporated. Add the remaining 3 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next egg. Use a rubber spatula to spread the cream base batter evenly on the greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a deep, golden brown. Let cool.
Vanilla Bean Filling:
- 2 1⁄2 C cold milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 5.1 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
- 8 oz Neufchatel cheese, unwrapped and microwaved for 30 seconds or until it easily spreads when touched by your finger
Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Use the blade of a paring knife to split the vanilla bean in half and then gently run the blade along both interior sides of the vanilla bean pod to remove all the vanilla bean specks. Add the vanilla beans to the milk and begin mixing at low speed.
With the mixer running, add the instant pudding and mix for another minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and whisk at medium speed for 2 minutes, until the pudding is thickening. Add the softened Neufchatel cheese and whisk for another minute. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- 1 pint heavy cream (reserve 1⁄4 C. to make the glaze below) 1/3 C powdered sugar
- 1 TBSP vanilla
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Start at low and gradually increase the speed to medium-high, about 8. Watch carefully and when the cream begins to hold high peaks, about 3 minutes, stop the mixer.
Dark Chocolate Glaze:
- 1⁄2 C dark chocolate chips 1⁄4 C heavy cream
- 2 TBSP corn syrup
Place 1 zip top sandwich bag inside another zip top sandwich bag and all the ingredients to the bag. Microwave for 20 seconds and massage with your hands until the mixture combines and is completely melted. If needed, microwave for another 5 seconds in order to get the ingredients warm enough to melt and combine.
Éclair Cake Assembly:
Spread the vanilla bean filling evenly atop the cooled cream puff base. Top with an even layer of whipped cream. Remove the exterior sandwich bag from the glaze and clip a tiny piece from the bottom corner of the bag. Exerting gentle pressure, squeeze the chocolate glaze atop the whipped cream in parallel stripes about 1” apart. Lightly drag a toothpick in 1” parallel lines that run the opposite direction of the glaze to create a beautiful pattern.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Cut into squares and serve.